Thursday, September 12, 2013

Race Shirts: An Investigative Report

The other day I was going through my drawer and realized that I have an abundance of t-shirts from races. I’ve thrown many away over the years, but with those currently in my possession I decided to do an investigative report. I went through them one by one, breaking them down into the following three categories: 1) Shirts that I like and wear. 2) Shirts that are wearable, but only for working out or mowing the lawn. 3) Shirts that are unwearable in public, no matter the circumstance.

Side note: Let me be clear that I’m not the type of guy who thinks much about clothes. I never buy clothes. Virtually everything in my possession I’ve either had for 15+ years and/or received as a gift. This test was done with my low levels of caring about what I wear. In hindsight, I think that makes the results even more significant!

My hypothesis going in was that the categories would be somewhat evenly split. As shirt after shirt fell into the “unwearable in public” pile, I realized my hypothesis was dead wrong. I discovered that entry into this category could be attributed to a variety of reasons:

Color: several of my race shirts had absolutely terrible color schemes. Yo race directors, don’t overthink it! You may think white is boring, but it’s much better than burnt orange, lime green, or neon anything to name a few. Also, there’s no need to re-create the Wonder bread look on a race shirt. It’s not a great look.

not my style
Wording: there were a few cases where I deemed a shirt unwearable due to something tacky on it. I’m not the type of person that needs/likes to “show off” that I’m a triathlete to the general public. In my mind, the more simple and classy the shirt, the better. Shirts that had sayings like “I Tri Harder” or TRIATHLETE in a huge font were tossed in the unwearable pile. Also, if you’re spelling triathlon as “triathalon,” I just can’t take you seriously… I’m sorry, but you’re cut. Also, we don’t need words covering the entire front of the shirt. Cover the back with sponsors, but keep the front simple.

Fit: a couple of shirts were decent looking, but simply didn’t fit at all. I’m not just talking size here… I literally could barely pull one of them over my head. Once it was on it felt like Hulk Hogan had me in a chokehold.

The Verdict: 21 out of 42. In other words, for me it’s virtually a coin flip if a race shirt will be wearable in any circumstance without enduring ridicule and shame.

The next category consisted of shirts that I classified as acceptable only for working out or for yard work. Many of them have been worn hundreds of times, and some are hanging by a thread. Most are slightly unpleasant to look at, but are comfortable as well as expendable… a great workout shirt.

The Verdict: 13 out of 42 (~30%)

The last category to discuss consisted of shirts that I like. They’re wearable in public, either on a run or “out on the town.” They don’t scream “LOOK AT ME I’M A TRIATHLETE, DON’T YOU THINK I’M COOL?!?”, but are a little more subtle and dare I say stylish.

Unfortunately this category was the lowest of the three, at just under 20%.

The Verdict
: 8 out of 42

In closing, I think I’ll be saying goodbye to the “unwearable” pile very soon. If you’re not a triathlete but want people to think you are, let me know… I’ve got an ugly race shirt with your name on it!

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