Marathon Finisher T-Shirts

Finisher t-shirts is not a rare sight in our country. You must have come across people wearing them and proudly displaying their achievement in all sorts of places, from the gym to the hawker center, and from classrooms to a night out. How many of them are they doing it right?

For the serious runner, choosing just the correct apparel for the right occasion can be a daunting and difficult task. The following guidelines have been compiled (in fun), to help the responsible t-shirt wearer avoid potential embarrassment and/or elevate their perceived status in their athletic community.

We cannot claim the creative license for the following list, however, as we found it to be one of the most hilarious articles on the runners’ sub-culture, we are giving you some of the best as a teaser and encourage you to visit the source for more.

  1. A shirt cannot be worn unless the wearer has participated in the event. There is an exception, though: “significant others” and volunteers.

2. Any race tee, less than a marathon distance, shouldn’t be worn to an ultramarathon event. It simply doesn’t represent a high enough “cool factor ” and sends a red flag regarding your rookiness. It’s like taking a knife to a gunfight.


3. When you are returning to a race in which you have previously finished, then wear the shirt from the first year you completed the race. Don’t short-change yourself by wearing the shirt from the year before. It doesn’t adequately display the feat of accomplishment or the consummate veteran status that you are due.

4. Never wear a race event shirt for the (same) race you are about to do. It’s like being at work and constantly announcing “I’m at work”. Besides, you wont have the correct post-race shirt then.

5. Never wear a shirt from a run that you did not finish. To wear a race shirt is to say “I finished it”. Exceptions: see guideline #1.

6. A DNF’er (did-not-finisher) may wear a race shirt if and only if the letters DNF are boldly written on the shirt in question.

7. Volunteers have full t-shirt rights and all privileges pertaining thereto. So there. Remember, you can always volunteer for a race and get a shirt. I encourage this as your civic duty to be a member of the running community. Races don’t happen without volunteers, folks.

8. No souvenir shirts: therefore, friends or anyone else not associated with the race may not wear a race shirt. If your mom thinks that your Boston shirt is lovely, tell her to qualify for Boston herself, and send in her application early for next year, so she can earn her own shirt. Note that your mom can wear your finisher’s shirt under one of these 4 conditions- 1) you still live with your mother; 2) she funded your trip to the race; 3) she recently bailed you out of the slammer; or 4) All of the above.

9. Your t-shirt should be kept clean, but dried blood stains are okay. If you’re an ultrarunner, you can even leave in mud and grass stains.

10. Never wear a t-shirt that vastly out-classes the event you’re running. It’s like taking a gun to a knife fight.

11. Never wear a blatantly prestigious t-shirt downtown or at the mall among non-running ilk. People will just think you have a big head, which you do.

12. Never wear a shirt that has more sponsors listed on it than people that ran in the event (are you listening, race directors?), or any sponsors on it that you don’t agree with.

13. If an event is cancelled at the last minute, but the event shirts were already given out, you can’t wear the shirt unless you actually ran the race on that day. This means you will have to run your own unsupported event, through snow storms, hurricanes, or whatever lame excuse the Race Organizers came up with for cancelling said event. If you still want to wear the shirt, you have to mark it with a sharpie, “I didn’t run this lousy event, and I’m all the better for it, thank you.” across the front of it.

Adapted from: Bad Ben’s Trail Running Site

Can you relate to this? Do you have your own do’s and don’ts?


    • So true. Wonder why people love wearing finisher tee to coooect race pack?? What’s there to show off when the people there are usually finishers as well.

    • I’m not too sure I agree with this, based solely on a pleasant personal experience. I wore a finisher tee to collect my race pack for another big run. The collections was not merely a station but an expo with hundreds of people. A complete stranger from another part of the world came up to me and spoke to me because of the finisher tee I was wearing. He was intrigued by the run and started off asking me about it, then we spoke about our love for running and eventually became Facebook friends. Now this is a friendship formed with a running enthusiast from a different country solely over a finisher tee. How could that not be positive?

  1. Never wear finisher t-shirt. Use it to wash a car, or as a dishcloth – and possibly to do training runs in, but never never never as a fashion item !

  2. In reponse to hitman:
    I dont see any logic there why you can’t wear a different finisher-t in collecting a race kit from a different event.

  3. My opinion in line with Hitman, but not in line with this article. My style is the ‘cocky’ style. So what? Don’t wear finisher tshirt among finishers, you look like a ‘show-off’ kind of moron. Wear it to the mall, dude. Wear it to the food stalls, restaurant. So what? I don’t care. Make people jealous, then make people go run too. Why not? I was in their shoes last time and now i’m a finisher too. So what to be cocky if you can boost other people’s motivation to run. That’s what organisers want, and we help promoting good lifestyle. Right? Hahahahahaha.

  4. So sad. Paid for the race event, train hard for it, got the finisher tee finally after all the hard effort. Then can’t really wear it without having to look through the list of dos and donts? Why?

  5. I didn’t wear the finisher Ts once, don’t know why, I just keep them. BUT i do wear the race singlets a lot cos i use them for running. Maybe because I know there are others out there that are a much better runner than me… not a good reasoning though… haha… I’ll wear them more often now…

  6. What the hell lah. I paid for the event, run my heart out and finished it. I wear my finisher tee to the mall, at home, work on weekends, going to tamu, majlis kahwin even wore it to sembahyang jumaat. Its not about showing off my tee its just that, people dont what ive been through just to earn it? Wear them with pride. These dos and dont, bagus buat finisher tee jadi lap kereta la

  7. Hi there,

    just one question. I’ve never run in Asia, so please forgive me if this question is stupid.
    Here in Europe you can usually wear whatever you want for a race (t-shirt, kit of your football team, running shirt of a sponsor etc.), do you have to wear the shirt of the race in Malaysia? E.g. everybody wearing the same shirt? The race in question is MRCA CHARITY RUN 2016 on November the 20th.

    Thank you!

  8. A finisher T-shirt my dream..I never have a finisher me..who..use the Champions..complete the full marathon.only some people can do..hard train,hard motivated,hard stamina..and good discipline..what ever people say..
    Finisher T-shirt is the good to show for all runners for motivated to be the champions..of runners..
    People just say but not feel the full marathon…who join who know the feel..

  9. (13) If an event is cancelled at the last minute, but the event shirts were already given out, you can’t wear the shirt unless you actually ran the race on that day
    >> we actually returned home running (19km) more distance than the race (16km) itself as the race was canceled last minute due to heavy rains… of course I never wear that T again

  10. Seriously? If you need to worry about what others may say/think about the shirt you are wearing, then dont bother to go out. Stay in the room.
    To find a finisher tee ‘offensive’? More likely it is because of ‘jealousy’. Why not be inspired and train up to earn one.
    To think that we are “more superior” just because we see someone wears a finisher tee of lesser event while we have completed a much more superior events? Well we were once newbies, no? And likely we ourselves have not participated in many ultra ultras.

  11. I aggree with #4! You need to appear in the crowd. Use your runner’s team shirt, one from a Race that represents your highest achievement. If you run a big Race abroad (like major or anexo ultra), It is nice to create one that shows your identity (country colors for example) or shows your reason for running (someone special)

  12. I paid for the shirts and i finished the races. I do think i have the rights to wear the shirts whenever i like. It doesn’t mean i show off or whatsoever. It means that i feel comfortable wearing the shirts that i paid!


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