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 race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


02 2014

23 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Love this idea – that is too cool how far you’ve come in your running journey! Great job!

    Also, that is so true what you said about medals – they aren’t just a piece of material. Whenever I look at my medals, I smile when I think about all the hard work I did to earn them. I am less than a month away from my first marathon, and I cannot wait to get that finisher’s medal. I’ve spent the last 18 weeks preparing for my race, and it will mean SO much to me!

  2. 3

    That looks great! Doug had actually surprised me a medal holder while I was at the Wine & Dine, but I also have waaaaaaay less medals than you do. I’m working on it!
    It’s amazing how far you’ve come with your running! Awesome job! :)
    Kellie recently posted..If You Can’t Say Something Nice…My Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Kellie! I debated getting a medal holder. Some of them are so cute! But I realized I’d need a few of them at this point. That and space were the main reasons I went this route1
      Karla Bruning recently posted..How To Put Together A Race Medal DisplayMy Profile

  3. 5

    That looks really good! I have all of my medals in a box in my closet, except for the one nearest to my heart, my 2013 Boston Marathon medal. It hangs in my closet by where I see it as a reminder of all that race and day meant to me. You have inspired me to pull the other medals down and actually do something with them now!
    Beth @ Miles and Trials recently posted..Tommie Copper Product ReviewMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Yay! My husband’s are in a box too. But we have mostly duplicate medals anyway, so we figured hanging one set was plenty. I can only imagine how much the 2013 Boston medal means to you.
      Karla Bruning recently posted..How To Put Together A Race Medal DisplayMy Profile

  4. 7

    That’s a lot of bling :) I have a simple hanger from Allied Medals and still have room for more medals.
    Lesley recently posted..Next Stop: Olympus!My Profile

  5. 9

    I’ve actually taken mine off their ribbons and made them into magnets. A lot of the first few races I ran didn’t give out medals, so I have much fewer medals. Hope to make my own bib display sometime soon — I have almost all the materials for it!
    Sadye recently posted..Shout-outs to Annah and MarcoMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      I love the idea of magnets! I actually counted: 27 of the 67 races I’ve done gave medals, then one was a medal for doing the Disney Coast to Coast Challenge. Of that 27, 6 were 5Ks or 10Ks. The rest were all halves and marathons. That’s why doing something with bibs is cool too–you get one at every race, not just some races.
      Karla Bruning recently posted..How To Put Together A Race Medal DisplayMy Profile

  6. 11

    First of all, I am totally jealous because I don’t have nearly as many medals as you do and yet my medal hanger is a hot mess. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! (And I’m probably going to steal it at some point). Such a great idea, thanks for sharing! Also — you’re such an inspiration! :)
    Jennifer @ The Final Forty recently posted..Help! I Hate RunningMy Profile

  7. 13

    This is much nicer than the plastic hooks I have them randomly hanging from… And I have a few horse show ribbons I can add in!
    Nicole @ Pink Elephant on PArade recently posted..Adventures in Cross Training: Seeking GuidanceMy Profile

  8. 15

    That looks good! Great idea.
    Ewen recently posted..Coming back, ever so slowlyMy Profile

  9. 17

    Love it! Now I just need to figure out where to hang my medals. I haven’t even managed to hang the framed Toronto Marathon medal that I wanted so badly as a reminder of my first marathon. It would be nice to actually see everything.
    Kristi Raz recently posted..How Do You Know…My Profile

  10. 19

    One of the ladies in my running club set up a separate Christmas tree from her family’s tree and used them as ornaments. Of course, silly me asked her ‘why the separate tree?
    Steve recently posted..Episode 46: Natural Food Alternatives To Sport Drinks And GelsMy Profile

  11. 21

    This looks amazing! It’s so colorful and such a great visual reminder for everything you have achieved! It’s definitely the best medal display I’ve ever seen. So much nicer looking than just having a bunch of medal or wood displays next to each other (even though I have a wood display, haha). Are you going to do anything with your bibs?
    Kristina @ Blog About Running recently posted..Which celebrity would you LOVE to go running with?My Profile

  12. 23

    Love your finisher medal collection! Congrats on all your accomplishments.
    Lauren recently posted..Banning Thong Bathing Suits: Long-Sleeve Suits Next Summer Trend?My Profile


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