Death by Race T-Shirt

Last weekend, my parents and sister headed to Austin (one sister is already there) for a visit and also to run events associated with the Austin Marathon.  My dad ran his second half marathon, and my sisters ran the 5-K.  Seeing all of them there running one of the bigger deal races the country while I was at home struggling through my uninspired mid-distance Sunday run KILLED me.  But I guess that’s neither here nor there.

My family is proudly nerdier than yours.

I’m so excited that my family is getting the racing bug.  I won’t begin to presume that I’ve inspired that hobby in any of them, but I love seeing people (my family and others) take the leap into running.  For me, running is the activity that gave me more confidence in myself than anything ever has before.  Plus, the running community is one of the most amazing and supportive groups of people.  If other people can discover that for themselves, then I’m happy!

But that’s not what this post is about.

If you’ll look at that picture, you’ll notice that all three of my family members are wearing THIS YEAR’S race t-shirt at the race.  In fact, they do this for every race.  Despite my best efforts, I can’t get them to stop (p.s., they love me.  Even when I write posts about them and their questionable race day fashion choices.  They have to.).


AT Run for the Zoo


AT The Shamrock Shuffle

AT The Turkey Trek

I have an irrational fear of wearing the race day t-shirt on race day.  Granted, most race shirts are cotton (I won’t run in cotton), so the only ones I’ve worn for training runs are from Rock n Roll Arizona and Chicago (both technical and made by either Brooks or Nike), but it has never even crossed my mind to wear a race t-shirt to the race because… SCARY.

photo (3)

Pretty Chicago Race Shirt…I’ve worn it exactly once.

Potential reasons for this irrational fear:

1) Chaffing: Lord knows how that shirt will behave in the latter miles.  I like to wear clothes that I’ve tested.

2) Bad luck: I’ve heard that wearing this year’s t-shirt is along the same lines as breaking a mirror over a black cat on Friday the 13th.  The t-shirt is a memento for a race that you RAN. Past tense.  By putting it on before the race, you are making a mighty big assumption that you will actually finish.  Apparently this is a temptation of fate. I personally need all the good luck I can get for a race…tempting fate isn’t an option.

3) Runners start to all look the same anyway since there are only so many ways to style running shorts and a racer back tank.  Wearing the same t-shirt as half the other runners makes it harder for your cheerleaders to determine which of those sweaty people you are.  On the upside, maybe you’ll get some cheers that were meant for someone else?

But, much like those spirit days in high school where everyone gets giggly over wearing the same shirt and same school color face paint, there is something kind of cool in seeing a bunch of people collectively wearing the race t-shirt. Like, “Hey! We’re all in this together!” Kind of.

And it is quite possible that I am the only person who feels this way.

And it goes without saying that I’ll still love my family and be proud of them for getting out there and staying active (and likely even pose like weirdos in pictures with them) even if they continue with this trend!  I just don’t want them to experience death by race t-shirt!

What’s your take?  Do you wear the race t-shirt to run this year’s race?

34 thoughts on “Death by Race T-Shirt

  1. Never! I don’t like to wear anything new when racing so that’s my primary concern 🙂 I did one time over hear a woman (who was clearly a pretty serious runner and thought she was PRET-TY fantastic) saying that she always wears shirts from a longer event to “psych out” other runners (full marathon shirt in a half marathon, etc). I thought that was kinda lame sauce!

    • Haha. That is lame sauce! I might joke about racing people in my car with my 26.2 sticker, but actually doing it (with the intention of psyching people out) is kind of mean-spirited.

  2. Nope! While I don’t share ALL of the same fears as you necessarily, I definitely share fear #2. Also, I LOVE laying out a race day outfit ahead of time…so why would I wear the race T? 🙂

  3. Never ever! I’ve never really thought about why I don’t do it before but I guess for all of the good reasons you pointed out. I’ve gotten a couple of quality race shirts before that I end up wearing later on for workouts but you can’t tell that they’re good without testing them first. I trust my own running clothes much more and I also don’t want to blend in like a sheep in the race flock. Come to think of it I’ve never even worn a well-tested past race shirt in a race before. Maybe that sort of feels like being a show off to me.

    • I agree…I like and trust my other clothes more! I will wear a different race shirt to maybe the expo or around town. It usually ends up being a great conversation starter! But I’ve never worn a tested one to a race either!

    • I agree! I secretly also wear Lululemon because I think their posse cheers louder for runners decked out in their gear, and they are usually positioned in a place where I appreciate the louder cheers!

  4. I’ve always said that wearing the race’s shirt during the race itself is tantamount to wearing a band’s shirt at their own concert. For some inexplicable reason, you just don’t do it. You can wear the shirt you got at their previous tour (like wearing the 2010 Chicago shirt for the 2012 marathon), or wear a shirt from similar bands in the genre. But you don’t wear THAT tour’s shirt.

    I don’t know who wrote that rule, but a lot of people follow it. I am too picky about my racing clothes to even bother with race shirts anyway (I tend to stick with the skintight UA base layer for several reasons). But when I need that extra layer, I like to brag and show the rest of the field that OTHER race I did some other time.

    We’re an odd bunch.

    • Confession…I actually did wear a Journey shirt to a Journey concert. But maybe since Journey is more of a tribute band these days, it is a little less weird?

      I’m pretty picky about my race clothes too. But I’m sure come April, I’ll be wearing my Boston Unicorn jacket to every race event I go to from now on!

  5. First of all, that Chicago tshirt is so nice! You should at least wear it as a sleeping/lazing about the house tshirt, which is what I do for my previous race tshirts (all 2 of them). The one I did receive that was dry wicking was too big, so my husband wears it for running and work.

    Like Hyedi, I pick out my race outfits before the race, sometimes a while in advance when I spot some nice stuff on my favourite online shops (my Balmoral 10km outfit is already chosen, and the race is at the end of April!). I’ve never thought that wearing the race tshirt was bad luck, and I’m definitely not one to try and intimidate other runners with my racing feats (because I don’t have any). If it were my softball feats however, definitely. I was all about being competitive and showing off :/

  6. Race shirts usually fit so poorly that even if I thought the design was cool I wouldn’t be able to wear one. By the way, the designs are NEVER cool, they are always TERRIBLE. At the Pasadena R’n’R Half this past weekend I actually wore the shirt for the first mile over my regular shirt…only for warmth and only because I knew I was going to leave it on the course at some point, which I did. You’re funny for calling out the family but I am so envious that the running runs deep with your fam and friends, it has feel awesome to always have support.

    • Very true on the design thing…especially with the little races. And it is really awesome to have a running-supportive family. I absolutely believe that if I had any other husband, I wouldn’t be into this at all. This is a new hobby for all of us (aside from Aaron). Both of my sisters have even convinced their boyfriends to get involved!

  7. I have only worn a race shirt at the actual race once. Generally, I’m afraid of jinxing things by doing so, but a couple of years ago I registered for a half marathon, decided not to run it and was just going to spectate while a friend ran it. On our drive down to the race site the day before, my friend talked me into running it after all. I didn’t have any other technical tees with me, so I decided to wear the race shirt that one time. I definitely felt weird about doing it, though.

  8. Nope, totally feel that way. Completely superstitious!

    What I really don’t get is when people do this when it is *completely* weather inappropriate. I ran a half once where it was 70 at the start & the race shirt was a dark-colored long sleeves. I was sweating buckets in a tank just a few miles in! Crazy town.

    • Rock n Roll Arizona had long sleeve shirts this year, and the same thing happened! It was easily 70+ degrees when the race finished, and people were there wearing their long sleeve shirts!

  9. I’ll wear the hell out of nice race shirts after I’ve completed the race, but not the day of. Why? Because I’m superstitious and I’m afraid of chafing.
    However, your family is pretty darn cute in their matching race shirts. 🙂

  10. Hockey players are some of the most superstitious of athletes. I’m less so than most, but I do fear wearing the race shirt on race day. I tend to think that I’ll be injured or won’t finish…and thus won’t have earned it…

  11. You are not the only person that feels this way. I use to be the person that ran the race shirt to the race until I got schooled. And now..I wouldn’t dream of wearing the current race shirt. I like to wear past race shirts to new races because I consider it good race mojo – I finished the race of the shirt I’m wearing so I can finish the current race. We runners can be so superstitious!

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