The past couple of weekends I ran races that had great “schwag.” No, schwag isn’t the amount of style a race has; schwag is the stuff runners get with their race entry fee. The term can also be spelled “shwag” and “swag,” and is reminiscent of the branded stress balls and other forms of “currency” at recruitment fairs and other corporate events.
I am both easily impressed and easily amused, so schwag has a broad definition for me. All definitions of schwag include the quality of the race shirt (tech or cotton? Fitted or potato sack?) and anything in the race bag runners get at packet pickup. Common items found in race bags include pens, an asinine amount of fliers and coupons, trial packets of sunblock or lotion, an energy gel product, and, recently, a single serving of uncooked brown rice. (Seriously! I’ve gotten rice more times than not this year.)
If you’re lucky you’ll get travel-size products, which will come in handy for your next flight or live in your gym bag. If you’re really lucky you’ll get full-size products, like I did in a race a couple weeks ago. The Our House 5 Miler must have had an in with Nivea, because I got full-size body lotion, hand creme, chapstick, lipstick, and a ridiculous amount of band aids. The race also had a decent amount of post-race food and energy bars available. On the flip side, Our House gives a cotton long-sleeve shirt, so it kind of balances out the race-schwag universe.
Last Saturday’s Newport 10k was a win-win for schwag! Newport doesn’t give a race bag, but runners do get a well-fitting tech t-shirt, and a huge selection of post-race food and drinks, including beers. Newport, and it’s sister race, the Liberty Half Marathon, are also known for their spirited raffles, which always start with random numbers being called off a list, then the remaining
cheap bastards runners end up holding out their bibs for a prize. Raffle prizes usually include various restaurant gift cards, massage packages, Runner’s High gift cards, Road ID’s, and Mets tickets. #Winning!
You may be thinking, “But couldn’t you have just bought all that stuff with the money you paid for the race entry fees?” Yes, I could have. But I wouldn’t! As you learned from my last post, I’m pretty
stingy resourceful, and I don’t go out of my way for extras. And, for the most part, I’m going to be running these races regardless, so I appreciate the thoughtfulness and effort that goes into pleasing the runners.
Could I live off schwag? No. The trial-size shampoos are fun, but only last a day or two, Michelob Ultra is only acceptable to drink after a race, and I’m not about to start wearing race t-shirts 24/7… but I may never have to buy rice again!
The following are races I’ve done that have unique and especially memorable elements of schwag that can’t be worn or put in a bag (you will notice a theme here):
- Miles for Music – Instead of getting their bazillionth race shirt, runners get gloves and a winter hat with the M4M logo. They also have soft pretzels and hot chicken broth at the finish, which are crazy-delicious after a run. Additionally, all runners 21 and over get discounted beer at Harvest Moon Brewery. Whoop!
- Stomp the Monster – In addition to a great tech shirt, this spring race held in Marlboro, NJ has an outdoor beer garden for all participants over 21 and over. They also have locally-made cupcakes and ice cream, and Jersey Mike’s subs.
- Fitzgerald’s Lager Run – The Lager Run is a summer evening race in Glen Ridge, NJ that gives pint glasses to the top 100 male and female finishers, and beer steins to the age group winners. They also offer a variety of post-race beers to be enjoyed with a delicious and unlimited barbecue selection.
- Jimmy D 5k – Jimmy D is a race local to me in New Brunswick, held late summer. Harvest Moon Brewery supplies unlimited Jimmy D Firehouse Red ale, brewed in memory of the late firefighter James D’heron. They also have ice cream, barbecued food, and a bouncy castle (which is open to adults a bit later on in the afternoon).
- Shamrock Running Festival – This weekend, sponsored by Yuengling, offers an 8k, half marathon, and marathon, and is held in Virginia Beach, VA close to St. Patrick’s Day. On both Saturday and Sunday, runners get to drink Yuengling on the beach while enjoying bands and a DJ. Erin go bragh!
(I’m sorry, I had to do it.)