Great ways to create meaningful awards beyond winning the race

Participating in an event is so much more than trying to finish first. For many, finishing at all is a win. Your event may be a driver for self improvement, a remedy for mental wellness, and a motivator to prioritize their physical and mental health, despite everything else going on in their lives.

Whether your event has 500 or 50,000 participants, there’s a good chance you’re handing out the same number of awards. For quite some time, It’s been the standard to base your awards off of age, gender, and the order of those in each category that reached the finish line first. However, there are so many other factors that could be considered!

Every person has a story. They show up on event day with a completely different background, and when they cross your finish line, there are so many reasons to celebrate.

The impact of meaningful awards

Let’s take Casey Smith for example. Casey is a mother of 3 children. She works a full-time 9-5 desk job Monday through Friday. 2 years ago, Casey was diagnosed with breast cancer. She spent over a year going through various treatments, and thankfully recovered. Casey has been working hard to build back her strength and has committed to walking everyday. For motivation to keep going, she signed up for your event. When Casey crosses the finish line, what will she be recognized for?    

Casey Smith, the 32nd female to cross the finish line within an age range of 40 and 50.


Casey Smith, the fastest mother of 3 children with a full-time job. Casey Smith, the fastest cancer survivor. Casey Smith, the fastest person running the race for the very first time.

Think beyond winning the race: Ideas to get started

Creating unique awards is a great way to make your participants feel special. They have worked hard to get to that finish line, and being recognized for personal details can feel extremely rewarding. We’ve put together numerous ideas to help you think beyond winning the race and create personalized awards that truly mean something to the recipient.

  • Fastest mother of [insert number of children]
  • Fastest father of [insert number of children]
  • Fastest [insert job title]
  • Fastest 1st time participant
  • Fastest person participating for the [insert number] consecutive year
  • Fastest person participating for the [insert number] time 
  • Fastest [education level] student
  • Fastest frontline worker 
  • Fastest musician
  • Fastest recovered/recovering [insert]
  • Fastest [insert] survivor
  • Fastest person who raised over [insert fundraised amount]
  • Fastest person living with mental illness
  • Fastest person wearing a costume

These are just a few ideas, but this list could be endless. Think about what might be personal and important to someone to be celebrated for. Your creative awards could also be in-line with your event’s theme or cause. For example, the fastest person dressed as Santa Claus or the fastest food bank volunteer. 

Of course, this data needs to be collected before you create your awards. This can be done using registration questions.

Collecting data through registration questions

You’ll need to decide on your awards before you create your questions. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to form your questions to get the data you’ll need. For example, if you will be awarding based on job category, such as the “Top finisher working in Health and Social Services”, “Top finisher working in Finance and Economics”, or “Top finisher working in Legal Services”, you will need to create a question with a selectable dropdown of options.

Note: We recommend making your questions entirely optional, especially if you are asking for sensitive and personal information. You may also want to include a disclaimer stating that their information will only be used for personalizing their results and awards. Please connect with your legal advisor for guidance.

Our participants are so much more than numbers, genders, and age categories. Recognizing them for how they got here today, what they’ve been through, what they are going through now, and all that they have to celebrate is a fantastic way to make the accomplishment of crossing your finish line that much more meaningful.

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