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!