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Sarah Warman
over 2 years Pittsburgh, PA, United States Story
Statue Comprised of Medals Pays Tribute To Runners

Your dreams. Your goals. Your accomplishments. What if they were put on display for the whole world to see? This is the inspiration behind, “The Medalist”, a ten-foot tall statue entirely comprised of running medals, located outside of Brooks Running corporate offices in Seattle, Washington. When Brooks Running relocated their offices from the suburbs to downtown Seattle in early 2015, they wanted to make a lasting impression in their new home: the eclectic neighborhood of Freemont. A statue seemed to be the appropriate choice since the neighborhood is known for its artistic vibe including statues throughout the neighborhood. 

In order to construct this statue, Brooks Running put out a request to runners, "Submit your running medals." Initially, they were unsure how many medals they would receive since running medals can be an important symbol in a runner’s life. Over a thousand medals were submitted, which included distances from one mile to ultra-marathons.  The medals also spanned several decades dating from 1979 to 2014. Brooks Running worked along with Seattle based artist Larry Tate of Fabrication Specialties Ltd. to create the statue. 

Standing ten feet tall this statue has many stories to tell. Some of the medals reflect the joy of parents running with their children or a wife meeting her future husband during a race.  Some of the medals reflect the sadness of seeing a parent at a race for the last time.  But all of these medals have come together to become something bigger than they were individually. 

One of those medals belonged to Rebecca Seago-Coyle who submitted her 2010 medal from the 26.2 With Donna Half Marathon in Jacksonville, Florida. The race raises money to find a cure for breast cancer and also assists women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. At the start line Rebecca befriended a woman who was wearing a breast cancer survivor shirt. Rebecca asked the woman how she got through her grueling treatment. The woman responded that she ran through every day of her treatment no matter how badly she felt. A few months later Rebecca was diagnosed with breast cancer. She continued to run and after twelve weeks of treatment she celebrated being a survivor. Rebecca donated this medal as a reminder of the woman who inspired her to keep going through her cancer diagnosis.

In 2013 Stephanie Yee Galzarano ran the Boston Marathon for the first time. Stephanie was a half mile from the finish line before she was stopped because of the bombings. Stephanie remembered feeling angry and scared that such a horrible event had occurred. However, the way people responded to the attack made her feel hopeful. She remembers strangers offering her a jacket and water and inviting her into their home while waiting to be reunited with her family. In her submission Stephanie states, “It was nothing short of amazing; the human spirit is kind and giving.”

Lindsey Mahlmeister submitted a 2013 Heroes on Hines Half Marathon medal on behalf of her father, Roger Mahlmeister, after she found it in a trash can.  Obviously he is not very nostalgic about his race medals and prefers to run the toughest trails in the toughest conditions, preferably rain. He even texted his family during this particular race to let them know that the rain was the best running weather. Lindsey writes in her submission, "He is sixty-four years old, an amputee, cancer survivor, Vietnam Veteran, father of four, grandfather of six and our hero."

Perhaps it's stories like these that make "The Medalist" such a powerful symbol. It represents our best efforts, determination, hard work, and our victories no matter how far the distance or how long it takes to complete the task at hand. It represents our heroes, our survivors and those who never gave up when it would have been easy to do so. 

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Sarah grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania, raised by her parents who met in the steel mills of Pittsburgh. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering Technology she moved to the eastern shore of Maryland so she could take walks [...]

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