T-Shirt & Singlet

Whenever I joined road races in the past, the only thing that I treasured most as an evidence that I finished the race is the Finisher’s T-Shirt. Nowadays, you seldom see road races that provide Finisher’s T-Shirt. What you see are the singlets being given once you register in a race. Before, even if you run a distance of 5K and above, you earn the right to wear a Finisher’s T-Shirt to show that you finished running such distance.

Whoever introduced the marketing ploy to attract runners in a particular race due to the availability of a FREE singlet had been successful in his objective to gather and attract more runners to his road race. I could not think of any road race before in the country (in the 80s & 90s) that offered FREE singlets as part of the road race’s registration fee. Nowadays, I always smile whenever I see and hear “newbie” runners asking if there is a singlet given as part of the registration fee of a certain race. It amazed me to see a lot of runners registering to a particular road race that is sponsored by a popular sports brand due to the quality and color of its free singlet. Adidas had maintained such reputation for the past 2 years and its singlet became the primary factor why runners would register to its “King of the Road” Race. However, do you wonder how many times have you worn such singlet in your workouts and in your competition races?

In my road races in the United States, the Finisher’s T-Shirt is the “individual trophy” given to each runner who finishes the race. I still have some of the Finisher’s Shirts I’ve collected when I participated in 5K up to Marathon Races and I treasure them even if the old ones were made of cotton. What is good when you have these Finisher’s T-Shirts is that you can wear them in casual meetings with friends, wear them while at the park or at the mall, or wear them after you running workouts and road races after changing to your wet/damp running attire, or simply wear them when sleeping or relaxing at home, or simply wearing them in a walking or easy run on the vicinity of your place or within your community. These Finisher’s T-Shirts are fashion statement of what you are and how far you have gone through with your running experiences and adventures. I doubt if you can wear your singlets in your casual meetings with your friends in restaurants/coffee shops or when you decide to go to the mall. You might be violating the prescribed dress code in a certain place if you are wearing a race singlet. I think it is inappropriate and improper to be wearing singlets at places like Powerplant or Ayala Center or Greenbelt or Shangrila Malls.    

What is the difference between a Finisher’s T-Shirt and a Singlet? A singlet is akin to an underwear/sando or sleeveless shirt which is given to you as you register in a road race. The singlet forms part of your race packet. A singlet signifies that you registered for the scheduled race but it does not tell to others that you used the said singlet in completing the race. It does not even proved that you really finished the race. While the Finisher’s T-Shirt simply explains that it belongs to you alone and you have finished the road race. Only finishers of the race are the recipients of such item, thus, it is called a Finisher’s T-Shirt. These shirts are not for sale after the race, they are simply earned honestly by only one way—starting the race at the starting line and crossing the finish line through your own effort!


10 thoughts on “T-Shirt & Singlet

  1. I have not yet heard of any races here in the States that hand out a race singlet for a certain race, though, there might be. Not only would it not be appropriate to wear a race singlet in certain places, but they are also not interchangeable; you would risk serious opposing looks if you wore your Milo singlet to the KOTR 21k, vise versa. Finisher’s T-shirts, however, are great to wear where ever and when ever to display your proud accomplishment (with out having to tell a non runner that you ran a race, they might ask upon).


  2. runningshield

    Ill be honest . i dont really care about free stuff or give aways etc. what i look forward for is a souvienier tshirt ” After” the race.


  3. Some people actually “joins” races not to run but to have that event singlet (most notably in KOTR). Personally Finisher’s tee have more bragging rights as it’s a proof of not only “participating” but also “finishing.” Anyone can have the free singlet but not evryone deserved the finisher’s tee 🙂


  4. fanaticinformant

    Admittedly, I am like one of those newbies that you mentioned. Was excited about the design of the singlets. But after so many races and having many singlets, truth is I hardly use them for my training runs or even for casual wear. I have given them away to my nephews and niece, who adore my singlets like crazy wearing them almost every week and even asking if there are other singlets that I plan to give away.

    There is only one singlet that I have never given away and will not ever do so. It’s the Botak 42k Marathon 2009. It was my first marathon in my life and it happened to be and remains to be the worst marathon of my life to date too. And yet I treasure it because I worked hard training for that marathon. Other than that, I treasure the souvenir shirts of BDM102k and the P2P of PAU. I wear them when I sleep as they are indeed of good quality, soft and comfortable to wear. I can’t explain it, but it just energizes me when I wear those finisher shirts.

    B. Tiangco a.k.a Titanium Runner


  5. jambalayamuzika

    I really don’t care whether the singlet is nice or not. The only thing I have in mind when registering is to finish the race. If there’s a medal or a trophy, to me, it’s only a bonus. Finisher’s shirt, singlet, medal, and trophy, as the years go by, they will eventually fade. What’s valuable is the memory of running in a race and finishing it. No one can take away that experience. I’ve kept the best singlets though. The rest I give. PAU finisher shirts, priceless.


  6. benwah

    I’m totally surprised singlets being handed before the race. I believe it’s more of advertising gimmick rather than the true symbol of the shirt. Nike – One Hit Wonder 10k provided tshirts prior to the event w the runner’s bib number printed. The race passed through famed Sunset/Hollywood Blvd. It has been discontinued the last 2-3 yrs. One Hit Wonder pertains to the bands playing after the race i.e rock bands with only one popular song then disappeared.
    Some races provide tshirts prior to the event but it is always customary to wear them after completion of the race. Some races are very strict like the hilly Catalina Marathon. Finisher’s shirt are worn w pride. It inspires others to run that race too specially if it’s a tough one. The older the shirt (specially the inaugural) and no matter how beat up, the better respect the runner gets. It may be just myself only, but I fold most shirts in my closet. Special shirts particularly tough ones are hanged neatly incl BDM.


  7. runningrealtorph

    Good point sir. I have too many singlets now from two years of racing. I use some of them for my training runs. Having a finisher’s shirt would really be a good idea for coming road races.


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