Selling My London Marathon Medal

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After the London Marathon has been packed away for another year and people begin to drift back to their daily lives, slightly chaffed, a strange thing starts to happen: medals from the iconic race start to appear on eBay. I’ve always found this very bizarre, why sell and crucially why buy something earned through sweat, pain and hard work. I wanted to understand, so I put my own London Marathon medal up for sale.

Don’t worry I had no intention of parting with it and removed it before the selling date but by putting it up for auction I could directly talk to those bidding, giving me a better chance of understanding why people wanted my sweat stained memorabilia.

Most of the five bidders didn’t want to discuss the why but two did and offered very differing points of views.

The first had completed the marathon and wanted a second medal to frame and hang in his office. This London was his first and only marathon and he wanted to commemorate the achievement in both his work and home.

The second was a collector of London Marathon medals, having never completed a marathon in his life I found his choice of collecting item a little strange but he assured me he simply likes the design aspect of them and never pretends to have run them. He said at the age of 78 he doubt anyone would believe him anyway.

But what about all the other buyers out there? I actually started looking at this phenomenon last year and noticed something interesting. In the first few days following the London Marathon some sell for over £120 but in the following weeks and months they decrease in selling price with some ending up going for around £20. To my mind the massive price decrease suggests people want to pretend they ran it resulting in frenzied bidding early on which dies out when bragging rights aren’t quite as potent.

On the flip side, however, I do understand that people buy medals online when they simply didn’t get theirs, even if they finished the race. The Bath Half Marathon last year underestimated the amount of people running and 700 people missed out on a medal. Also, some races don’t offer medals past a cut off time, so if you were to take 9+ hours to complete a marathon there is a chance that the medals may have been packed away.

Why sell?

For me, each medal stands as a tribute not just to the race itself but the hundreds of miles and many months of hard work and commitment that went in to getting to the start line. I will sometimes go and look at my medals as a visual reminder that I made possible what many believed impossible. A tangible representation of hard fought mental and physical challenges. However, I can now understand why people would, having also emailed a few sellers as well as buyers.

I sent out a load of messages to sellers laying out why I was messaging them and after literally one minute I got my first, somewhat blunt, reply; “who needs them?”. I asked him to elaborate a little more and he explain that he was a prolific runner without the Gollum like hoarding habits most runners have. Having run every London since 2008 and along with countless other races he felt like they were all just taking up too much space in his house and binned them. This year he discovered that they had a value to other people and has been selling them ever since. He uses the money he makes to fund future races.

The second seller I spoke to did it for charity. She had earned her fourth London Marathon spot through a charity and was some way from her fundraising target after finishing the race. Having seen that the medals went for a premium online she sold her’s to fill up the total.

The final response I got was from a first time marathon runner who just couldn’t afford the costs of his weekend in London. With train tickets, hotel stay and food the memorable weekend had taken a hefty chunk out of his overdraft. He needed to recoup some of the money so I brought his medal and told him to keep it. Ironically, trying to understand why ‘those people‘ buy medals I ended up becoming one of ‘those people‘ myself.

Would you ever consider buying or selling your medals? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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17 thoughts on “Selling My London Marathon Medal

  1. Kathy says:

    I’ve never ran the London Marathon or any Marathon so if I did I would most certainly cherish it. I can fully understand some of the reasons above for selling but only 2 for buying, yours and the guy who wanted one for his office. I ran my first ever 10k in Liverpool about 17 years ago and was extremely proud. However I broke my back 15 years ago after being thrown from my horse and when I moved house not long after I threw the medal away. Rather than it being a momento of my achievement I saw it as a reminder of something I thought I’d lost. Last year, despite constantly being told I could/should never run again I went against medical advice and started C25K and found I could do it. I’ve done 4 live races since then, the longest being 5 miles, and become addicted to virtual races and have loads of bling which I display with pride. If I’m honest though every time I look at my collection I always think about the one I threw away and I would love to get it back. I’m running my first live 10k race in a couple of weeks and will never part with that medal!

  2. matttbod says:

    This is brilliant – I never understood this beforehand and seems to be a wide variety of reasons. I’m not selling my London medal that is for sure!!

  3. Erratic Movement says:

    Interesting article. I would only consider selling race medals if I was in a financial situation where I need the extra money. However, medals aren’t a particularly sacred part of the race experience for me – it’s the race/bib number that I really cherish.
    I think it’s something about it having literally gone the distance with me? I have started writing my finish time, date/location (if not already on the bib) and any relevant notes (e.g. a PB, if I blew up at the end) and then laminating them and putting on my wall. For me, it triggers memories of the event a lot more vividly than the medal does.

    • The Morning Coffee Run says:

      It is interesting a lot of people have been saying the same about race bibs. I collect both of mine! Thats a lov
      ely idea though about making notes on them. I put my notes in a little book as they usually contain swear words!

  4. vegemite says:

    I think some people just don’t cherish them – and that’s okay, no one says you have to build a shrine around it. If I didn’t love my collection, I’d cash in, too.
    As for buying – medals get left behind in hotel rooms, on trains, planes etc and if I lost one of mine, I would try to replace it. Particularly if it was a marathon medal. Or some people want to give a medal to the person that supported them through the months of training.
    I also keep my race bib – I have a folder of all my races with every race bib.

  5. imarunnernowyousee says:

    I would never sell my medals they may just be bits of metal but the effort and journey to get them was hard and long. Having them to look at gives me inspiration to carry on during my moments of doubt!

    I’m not sure I understand why people would buy a medal they haven’t earned themselves either.

    I was in a dilemma recently. With the bad weather we had over winter the Coventry Half Marathon was cancelled but they still offered the medal for collection to those who could show they had run the distance at another time. At first I thought great at least I can still have the medal but then I came to think that the medal isn’t just a representation of you having run the distance, it’s a symbol of you being part of a specific experience, an experience that in this case never actually happened. I left the medal in the end.

  6. Danny Mansfield says:

    This is a really interesting post and something I have often seen online and thought about. It’s strange how you see these medals and often assume certain things. Never would I have thought of someone wanting two to create medal display. My medals are all in display in the training room I’ve created for myself. I, like others also cherish the bib number and display these in number collages. A well written post with some great research behind it!

  7. Sophie Bestwick says:

    I have run enough races to require a second medal rack – and absolutely would not part with a single one of them! Whether it’s a marathon or a 5k fun run I cherish the medal and the memories as a package deal that cannot be given a monetary value. I was given a finisher t shirt as a gift from an event that I have never even heard of and always have my doubts about wearing that, although I don’t think I would ever part with the finisher t shirts either. The medals truly are a testament to individual achievement and selling the medal is unthinkable to me!

  8. Manohar Shintre says:

    I happened upon this post because I am considering selling all of my medals that I can sell, most of which are from various marathons. Why sell or otherwise part with them? I know I ran the races. I will hopefully run many more. Apart from their appearance in photos right after the race, the medals have stayed hidden in one bin or other. I don’t care to put them on display, so to paraphrase some of your responders, Who needs them? But then, I also throw away my race bibs and donate most of my race shirts.

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