History & Timeline
Theme Runs gives Puzzle Piece finisher medals to everyone who completes one of our races. What many people don't know is that those medals evolved over time, with various design elements and themes through the years.
This is a timeline, featuring every medal we've ever awarded (and pictures of races still to come.) You'll be able to find out what your medal represents, hidden details about it and even be able to order medals for races you might have missed.
Inventory of previous race medals is limited, because we tried to order only as many as we needed for that event. Once a medal is sold out, that's it. We do not re-issue medals from previous races.
2/2/2013 - Buddy Pass
This is the race that started it all. Beth Moyes was an avid runner and she decided to hold a race as a fundraiser for the Anchors Aweigh clubhouse. They are an organization that provides meeting spaces for 12-step recovery programs.
Theme Runs (and Puzzle Runs) did not yet exist when this race was held. Beth worked with a running club to handle all the details from registration, promotion, event coordination and even race timing. The race ended up being one of the biggest fundraisers for the club that entire year.
Winners were given awards created by a local company. They were laser cut and made out of wood. This would be the only race that Theme Runs owns that did not have puzzle piece finisher medals.
While the race was successful, Beth felt like there could be so much more. She wanted everyone to have some kind of momento when they we done, not just winners medals for the fastest runners. So she decided to start giving out finisher medals to everyone who completed the run.
Traditional finisher medals ranged widely in size and styles. There are bottle openers, coins and medals the size of a dinner plate. The idea Beth hit upon was to make a finisher medal shaped like a puzzle piece. But instead of edges that only fit together a certain way, she had the piece designed so ANY SIDE can connect to ANY OTHER SIDE of ANY puzzle piece.
Over time you can build a puzzle that grows without end, it’s only limited to your imagination how everything fits together. Over the next few years that idea would be improved and expanded upon, until you end up with all the puzzle pieces you see below.
The original series of puzzle piece finisher medals we call RAYS. Inspired by a picture of Mickey Mouse’s head, surrounded by rays of light beaming out from all around. The character we featured in the first year’s medals is the Theme Runs mascot.
ABOUT THE THEMES: One of the things we decided when we planned the races, was to make it more than just a 5K run. We wanted to make it like a themed party, where everyone dresses according to a grand idea or does something more than just run. Our first theme was the Buddy Pass for the Anchors Aweigh Clubhouse. Since the 12-step programs that are hosted at Anchors Aweigh are built on sponsors and sponsees helping each other, we encourage people to “run with a buddy” and “pass the help along.” Thus the name, “Buddy Pass.”
6/1/2013 - Tutu Relay
The Tutu Relay was similar to a traditional relay race, but instead of passing a baton you have to pass a tutu. You can’t take yourself too seriously when you’re running a race in a Tutu!
This was the very first race we made finisher medals for. Our thought was that we would use the same medals for two years and then change them. So we ordered enough Tutu Relay, Red Shirt Run, Tube-a-thon and Buddy Pass medals for two years. We later learned people really wanted a new medal every single time, but it was too late. So for those four races the medals were the same for the first and second year. For the Red Shirt Run, the medals remained the same for the first three years.
The Heroes and Villains race was so large the first year, we were able to order a new medal for that race the second year it was held.
We experimented with a custom WINNERS medal during the Tutu Relay race as well, which featured the puzzle piece medal inside a circle. It made for a nice looking medal, but didn’t actually allow you to connect it to anything. We kept this design for almost two years before moving on.
8/31/2013 - Tube-a-thon
This race was during one of the hottest times of the year, so we thought we would include a portion that took people into the water. It was also a relay, starting with blowing up a tube. Then you would run the tube to the water, paddling the tube around a buoy and finally finish by running the tube across the finish line.
Everyone who entered the race loved it, but we were never able to get enough people to join in. People who just like regular running were scared of the water portion and people who liked extreme runs didn’t think it would be challenging enough.
9/28/2013 – Red Shirt Run
Since AIDS Help was the beneficiary, we chose the color red from the ribbon people wear for AIDS awareness. Each entry allowed people to cast a vote for their favorite king and queen candidate for Fantasy Fest.
It was during this race that a few contestants showed up in red themed costumes. A couple of the outfits were so impressive, we decided we needed to add another element to all our races. We would have a costume contest and hand out awards. After all, not everyone will be able to win a 5K race, but anyone CAN put together something fabulous to wear! (Thank you Joanie Sullivan for kicking off the costume fun and winning this first award.)
RAYS continued. We just made tweaks to the original medals for the second year races. The rays we introduced in our first year stayed, but we changed some of the colors in the background elements. The designs were fun, but we still really weren’t pushing the boundaries of what our finisher medals could become.
RAIN DAY MEDAL.
There was one big idea we introduced in 2014. It was a finisher medal featuring our mascot running through the rain. We wanted to encourage people to show up, even if it was raining. So we designed a medal that we would give out ONLY to people who completed the race while it was raining. You still get the regular finisher medal, but you also get this BONUS medal too.
We ordered 1,000 of the Rain Day Medals and when a batch is gone, we will order 1,000 more with a DIFFERENT design. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these, know that you’re part of a special group that’s willing to brave a little wetness for charity.
These are the dates for races that were held, where the same medals were given out as in the previous race. Don't worry, we heard you. New medals every time now!
6/14/2014 – Tutu Relay
Same medal as the first year.
9/6/2014 – Tube-a-thon
Same medal as the first year and this was the last time this race was held.
9/27/2014 – Red Shirt Run
Same medal as the first year.
2/7/2015 - Buddy Pass
Same medal as the second year.
5/9/2015 - PAL (Police Athletic League) 5K
Same medal as the first year.
9/26/2015 – Red Shirt Run
Same as the first two years.
SWIRLS. To shake up the design a little, we decided to alter the background from the rays to a swirl behind most of the images. It wasn’t that significant of a change, but it was enough to get us to think about choosing different “common elements” that we would change each year and incorporate into our medals. Updating the background colors just wasn’t enough.
8/15/2015 – Fashion Victim
The idea behind this race was to have everyone dress up in their most tragic outfits. Mix plaid and stripes! Wear outdated styles! Nobody’s a diva, we’re all a collection of fashion misfits. We even had a red carpet people could walk down for photos.
Unfortunately not enough people wanted to be seen in their fashion mistakes. Because of poor attendance this race was only held once.
LANDMARKS. We wanted to show off some of the interesting architectural items in Key West, while also linking them to the organization that the race was for. It was also our first attempt to create an annual theme where medals from different races, could also fit together to form elements that were bigger than just one medal.
We did that by designing a background that drew four medals together. There were two sets of four medals, and we returned to the “ray” background we introduced in our original medals. The rays start at a corner of the medals, and you combine four of them together to get the full effect.
There are two sets of four medals. One group has a silver and yellow background and the other has an aquamarine and yellow background.
This was a difficult design challenge, because we had to make sure just a few lines would be enough to make the buildings and structures identifiable. Hopefully you recognize a few of these landmarks.
1/9/2016 – Snowbird 5K
A one-time race that was for the Key West High School. For the medal we picked one of the most recognizable pieces of art in town, the giant conch shell in front of the school. The artwork that we were given by the high school included a pink flamingo in front of the shell. It was the perfect bit of whimsy the medal needed and we quickly incorporated it into the design.
We introduced our GIANT puzzle piece WINNERS medals during the Buddy Pass race. We thought it would be appropriate to have winner’s medals that fit into the smaller finisher medals. The center circle changes for each race and the outer design is changed once a year.
The red rays with yellow stars is the 2016 design.
2/27/2016 – FINtastic 5K
This was the first “color” run held in the Florida Keys. Runners are splashed with one of 10 colors as they pass various points along the route. The name of the race was “Colors of the Sea” so we put a coral reef on the finisher medals with some of the colors you would be splashed with.
While the reef is not an architectural landmark like all the other medals of this year, we still felt it was appropriate since it is a natural landmark that’s a vital part of our ecosystem.
6/11/2016 – Tutu Relay
The Custom House was chosen because it’s both pretty (like a tutu) and a little ridiculous (like a tutu). The Custom House was built using a standardized design, so it included several fireplaces, to keep people warm…in the tropics. It also has an extremely steep roof, so snow doesn’t build up on it…in the tropics.
7/4/2016 - Key West Rotary 4th of July 5K Walk/Run
This race didn’t have finisher medals, but it did use the GIANT puzzle piece winner’s medals.
11/24/2016 - Hawk's Cay Turkey Trot
This was the first year this race chose to use finisher medals. They feature a running turkey on the front. This is the only medal we don’t have a picture of the final version.
If you have one, we’re offering $30 to purchase it from the first person who contacts us with one. Give us a call at (305) 747-8563.
TRAINS. Henry Flagler built the bridges that originally connected the Keys for his railroad. It was an unprecedented engineering feat that was considered one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. We thought it would be fun to put items representing each of the races, on top of railroad cars that would all fit together. To make it more fun, we designed many of the train cars to look like they were part of a circus train.
One of the complaints we got from the previous years’ landmark series, was that if someone missed one of the four races that fit together, the puzzle would appear incomplete. So in designing the train, each car stands alone…except the engine that starts it all off. To make sure people could get the engine, we purposely ordered extra and have made them available for sale.
2/25/2017 - FINtastic 5K
The Gerald Adams logo placed on a train car like it’s an aquarium.
The original batch of these medals was too thick to properly fit together. The company that produced them shipped us a "slimmer" version that we exchanged for free if you had a "thicker" version. If you have the "thicker" version, slim ones are still available for exchange. Just call Beth Moyes at (305) 747-8563 and she'll let you know how.
4/29/2017 – Mariners March 5K
When a church is awarded the status of minor basilica, they can display a red and yellow umbrella that’s called an umbraculum. It’s opened when the pope comes to visit. We thought it was a great element to put on the train car to remind runners of the church’s basilica status. We added the Mariners logo and running children underneath.
You’ll notice the umbraculum is not opened, since the pope was not visiting during the race.
7/4/2017 - Key West Rotary 4th of July 5K Walk/Run
They don’t use the finisher medals. But when the childrens run was held, we wanted the kids to get something special. Each child that ran was given a Rain Day Medal since we experienced a very slight rainfall during their race.
This year featured designs with POP ART and a return of the original RAYS background.