Close up of the custom Melbourne Marathon 'Marathon' medal.
The medal we custom-made for Melbourne Marathon’s longest event - the marathon!

How do you take a landmark year for Australia's largest marathon and make it unforgettable?

This was the challenge facing the Melbourne Marathon in the lead-up to its 2023 event, and Badges And Medals had the answer. In this article, we will reveal how our partnership resulted in unique, memorable awards that captivated every racer and helped make the event a success.

Our work was so impactful that we have been hired for several of the Melbourne Marathon’s sister events and its 2024 marathon!

So, if you're wondering where to find awards that your participants will cherish for life, you're about to find out why Badges and Medals might be your perfect fit, too.

History of the Melbourne Marathon

The Melbourne Marathon was established in 1978 following the success of the New York City Marathon in the United States. It has since been picked up by Nike and grown to include five races to cater to runners of different skills: a 3-kilometre walk, a 5km race, a 10km race, a half-marathon, and - of course - the marathon itself.

A record-breaking 40,000+ racers signed up for its 2023 event. However, the Melbourne Marathon team knew the awards they'd used in previous years just weren't going to cut it for the event's 45th anniversary, which was that same year. They needed something grander.

But where to find it? For that, they turned to custom award-maker Badges And Medals.

The team asked Badges And Medals to deliver:

  • 26 wooden trophies
  • 40,500 medals across five designs
  • 48 podium coins across two designs

Why Badges And Medals stands out

Brad King, operations director at IMG, which operates the Melbourne Marathon, said there were "a number of elements" which made the team choose Badges And Medals.

"The quality of the medals and the production timelines is really important. Then what elevated them to the next level was the ethical policy that they hold," King said.

From the get-go, Melbourne Marathon knew partnering with Badges And Medals would prevent 81,000 plastic bottles from entering the ocean due to their partnership with Plastic Bank. That's 1620 kilograms, or the same weight as about 108 adult koalas.

And it wouldn't stop there.

Badges And Medals would make the marathon's wooden trophies from sustainably sourced wood and its medals and coins from recyclable zinc alloy. In fact half of the medals and coins would be made from a metal that had already been recycled.

Brad said Badges And Medals took the marathon's sustainability to "another level".

Designing Melbourne Marathon’s custom awards

The Badges And Medals design team embraced the marathon's rich history as inspiration for the awards. 

They recognised the importance of featuring the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, where victorious racers completed their journey with a final lap. Moreover, it was essential to pay homage to the vibrant spirit of Melbourne itself.

In a matter of days, the team had compiled a range of designs.

After a few refinements, Melbourne Marathon settled on a universal design for its medals, but with different medal and ribbon colours and sizes, depending on the event.

What truly set the medal's design apart from those used in recent years was the innovative use of colour. The Badges And Medals design team decided to fill in the logos and event names on the medals - an element that the marathon had not done for eight years.

Front and centre was the Melbourne Cricket Ground, as seen from above. The cut-out in the middle represented the stadium's field. It doubled as a bottle opener post-race - a fun detail thoroughly enjoyed by several sharp-eyed racers.

Close up of the custom Melbourne Marathon 'Half-Marathon' medal.
This medal was awarded to participants that completed the half-marathon.

The stadium also appeared on the medal through the artwork The Gathering Circle.

And the artist behind this masterpiece? None other than Simone Thomson, a gifted Australian Aboriginal artist. Simone, a Woi-Wurrung Wurundjeri and Yorta-Yorta Traditional Owner through her mother, holds a special connection to the land where the stadium now stands, as the Wurundjeri people are the traditional custodians of the land.

The Gathering Circle features traditional Australian Aboriginal symbols that tell the story of how the cricket ground, as the finishing line of the marathon, brings people together.

In Simone's own words, posted to the Melbourne Marathon website: "The central circle represents the Sun, the giver of life. The Sun symbolises health and wellbeing and signifies the [Melbourne Cricket Ground] as our significant meeting place."

The stadium was also a key feature in the marathon's trophies and podium coins.

However, central to the podium coins were the 3D busts of Australian running legends Kerryn McCann, a three-time Olympian, and Steve Moneghetti, a four-time Olympian. The busts matched images of them at the Melbourne Marathon finish line - a fitting tribute to the women (for the Kerryn McCann Award) and the men (for the Steve Moneghetti Award) who finished first.

The quality of the awards was "really good", Brad said.

Free marketing materials generate online excitement

As part of the partnership package, Melbourne Marathon received two marketing assets.

The first was a medal reveal video. The video gave participants a glimpse of their chosen course and the exquisite medal that awaited them at the finish line. All the Melbourne Marathon team had to do was upload it to their social media and add a fun caption.

It was an immediate hit.

The video amassed over 56,200 views on Instagram and, for a time, held the record for Nike Melbourne Marathon's most liked and shared Instagram post. Allowing participants to see the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into the marathon's custom-designed medals got them buzzed for the event days before it had even happened!

The second marketing asset was an infographic that showed how much plastic was prevented from entering the ocean because of the Melbourne Marathon's partnership with Badges And Medals through Plastic Bank. This piece showed participants that the medals the marathon had chosen aligned with its commitment to be a sustainable event.

A sustainability pamphlet for the Melbourne Marathon, which reveals that their medals saved 1620 kilograms of plastic.
The marketing materials we provided the marathon were a hit with viewers.

Followers loved it. One person said to her friend on Instagram: "This is absolutely brilliant, another reason you, Leigh And Chris should be proud of your participation."

Racers loved their custom awards

Awards are a critical part of race days, and the Melbourne Marathon was no different. For the recipients, the awards symbolised months of hard work and determination.

Just take a look at what they had to say:

Melbourne Marathon’s online engagement increased

In the two weeks following the event, the @MelbMara Instagram handle was tagged 734 times, mainly by people showing off their medals. That's a 28.8 percent increase on the year before, at the 2022 event, when it received 570 tags.

The hashtag specific to that year's event, #MelbMara2023, also received more uses than the one used the year before, #MelbMara2022, with 171 and 124 uses, respectively.

The awards were such a success that the Melbourne Marathon team commissioned Badges And Medals to produce the awards for the 2024 event, scheduled for October.

Brad said the business was poised to take the awards industry to "another level".

"The experience with Badges And Medals has been really good," he said.

"They're great to work with. They're approachable and offer a great range of products.

"For anyone out there looking to have medals produced, have trophies produced, or even looking for a different supplier to look at your scope of works, I'd definitely recommend reaching out to the Badges And Medals team."

Melbourne Marathon medal recipients smiling at the camera.

Elevate your next event with custom medals

We at Badges And Medals understand the importance of choosing the right award supplier. Our work with the Melbourne Marathon illustrates our commitment to excellence and our ability to turn a simple award into a cherished keepsake. By choosing us, the marathon not only got awards, but they got free marketing and better ethics.

Now, it's your turn. If you are facing the challenge of finding the right partner to commemorate your event, look no further. Whether you are organising a local race or a large-scale sporting event, the Badges And Medals team is ready to bring the same level of dedication and quality to your awards. Fill out our contact form today for a free, no-obligation consultation on how we can help make your event a stand-out success!