Buckles in ultras used to be seen mostly in 100-mile races. Occasionally they’d be seen at the 50-mile events. Here in California they were given out in some capacity at the long-gone San Juan Trail 50-Mile and Nugget 50-Mile. In recent years they’ve surfaced at some 50ks and marathons. Now they’ve appeared at the Austin TX 1/2 marathon.
|Half-marathon buckle, Austin TX Marathon|
You’ve gotta be fucking kidding. First, a little history.
Finisher buckles in 100-milers originated at the Western States 100, as a direct lineage from the Tevis Cup Endurance Ride. Not all 100s had buckles for the post-24 hour to final cut-off finishers. Angeles Crest didn’t offer them to the 24-33hr finishers until 1996, after 1995’s winner Fred Shuffelbarger leaned on RD Ken Hamada, hard.
Wasatch had at last count three: sub 24hr, 24-30hr, 30-33hr. I am lucky to have earned the latter two. Because Wasatch is fucking difficult.
The buckle was a compelling marker that the wearer presumably earned it by hard work. When fewer than 1000 people had finished a 100-miler in 1996, you could keep track via UltraRunning Magazine’s year-end roster etc. Twenty years later, the numbers are very different.
Everybody wants that magic token, and if it appears at their distance, all the better. At this rate, I fully expect buckles for Beer-Miles. There are enough Brand Ambassadorks out there to make it happen.
I've got a buckle from the Nugget 50 in '92. Once I got it, I never wore it. Why? Because I’d finished 100-milers. The end.
POSTSCRIPT:I asked Shannon Yewell Weil, former Tevis Endurance Rider, WS100 founding member, if the Tevis Cup Riders had any beef with runners swiping their idea:
No, they never have. All of us who started WS100, including the aid station volunteers were endurance riders. Every one loved the idea and supported it wholeheartedly. That was the first generation of volunteers and they established the attitude. However, later the horse people showed some jealousy over how popular the Run had become overshadowing the Ride (TEVIS). I saw that coming very early on and just smiled when it happened.
|Potential buckles ready for ironic repurposing, Ventura College Swap Meet, Ventura CA|