How To Put Together A Race Medal Display

race medal display

My race medal display (Photo:

It only took six years. I finally put together a race medal display for all my running medals. Here’s why, where and how I did it.

Why I Put Up A Race Medal Display

On Sunday, November 4, 2007, I earned my very first marathon medal.

NYC Marathon, ING New York City Marathon

My first running medal from the 2007 New York City Marathon. (Photo: Christy Hourihan)

I wore it for the rest of the day, unable to believe that I had actually finished a marathon. But the medal eventually found its way into a drawer. Over the years, medal after medal joined it.

No more. Those medals aren’t just pretty pieces of metal and ribbon. They’re tangible representations of all the hard work that went into each race. More importantly, they’re reminders of what I’ve overcome as a person and as a runner.

I came to the sport from square one, having overcome a bone tumor that plagued me for a decade and caused me to walk with a limp. I’ve gone from hating running to loving it to rearranging my life and career around it. I’ve gone from running 11:30 minute miles to 8:00 minutes miles. And I’m still growing as a runner, running personal bests and loving experiencing races all over the world. I think that’s important to remember.

race medal display

My desk isn’t usually this clean. (Photo:

I’ve got 28 different medals hanging in my display. I’ve run another 40 races that didn’t give out medals. Maybe someday, I’ll even earn an age group award. Who knows?

I’m also thinking of digging out my old medals and ribbons from when I was a competitive swimmer and putting them on the opposite wall. I’ve probably got hundreds of them in a bin in my storage space. We’ll see. That’s a project for another day.

Where I Put My Race Medal Display

Because I work from home as a freelance writer and broadcaster, and live in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, I don’t really have an office. That’s where I’d normally put something like this. My desk is in the living room next to the kitchen. I have zero wall space there. Bookshelves and windows fill the only two walls near my desk.

What wall space exists in the rest of the apartment is already spoken for.

race medal display

My inspiration

But I do have an office closet filled with shelves, filing cabinets and my printer. It’s also where I keep personal knickknacks that hold fond memories: my baby shoes, piggy bank, and the like. Now, the closet also houses my running medals. Suddenly, printing things has become much more appealing.

What Kind Of Display?

Because wall space—like most space in New York City—is scare, I opted to hang my medals as a sort of collage. No neat rows hung from a medal display rack. I got the idea from a photo of horse show ribbons that I clipped from a magazine—I don’t even remember which one. It was an entire wall filled with them. I actually think it’s visually more interesting than neat rows.

As my collection grows, I’ll eventually fill the entire wall too. Suddenly, my closet wall is no longer boring and the blank space there is no longer simply blank space. Now it’s a canvas waiting to be filled with more racing memories.

How To Put Together a Collage Race Medal Display

The best part about this kind of race medal display is it’s cheap. All I used was a hammer and some nails. You can’t even see the nails because the medal ribbons cover them up.

race medal display

My display (Photo:

1) Lay out all your medals

2) Separate them by length into two groups, shorter and longer. If you want to be precise, arrange them on a bed or table beforehand roughly in the arrangement you’d like to hang them. Or you can just freewheel it as you hang, which is what I did.

3) Begin at the top corner of your hanging space. Hammer in your first nail and hang the first medal. You can see I started with the Disney Family Fun 5K medal.

race medal display

Top row starts with Pluto.

4) If the first medal you hung was a longer one, pick a shorter one next. Place the medal so it hangs just above and to the right of the previous medal and hammer a nail in place. You can see I picked the NYRR Mini 10K next.

5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the entire row. Your nail heights and spacing won’t be exact since you’re setting each one to the individual medals, which will vary in size, shape, and length. If you look at the nail height and spacing of my top row, you’ll see there’s variation.

race medal display

Nail height and spacing doesn’t have to be even.

6) For the second row, place the first medal so it hangs just below the medal above it. Hammer in the nail. You may have to push the ribbons from the first row of medals out-of-the-way. You can see my second row starts with the Philadelphia Marathon medal.

race medal display

Row two starts with Philadelphia Marathon and continues with Disney.

7) Hang the next medal slightly lower and to the right. In my photo, it’s the Disneyland-Walt Disney World Coast to Coast Medal. Again, you may have to push some ribbon out-of-the-way to hammer in the nail.

8) Repeat steps 6 and 7 to finish out the row. Space them however you want depending on how close you want the medals to be versus how much ribbon you’d like to show. You can see I put some of my bigger medals toward the middle of the race medal display. So I gave those a bit more room to breath than the smaller medals in the top row.

9) Repeat the process for all the rest of your rows.

10) Voila! You’ve got an attractive and inexpensive race medal display. It may take some playing and rearranging to get it just right. But I think I only re-nailed two holes in total.

What have you done with your medals? Do you have them on display?
Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a regular contributor to, the host of NYRR's On The Run web + TV show, and a race announcer at events like the TCS New York City Marathon. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now she freelances as a running reporter. She's run 7 marathons, 20 halves, 6 triathlons, sings in an '80s cover band, spoils her dog + travels compulsively.

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02 2014

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