DIY Race Medal & Bib Rack

DIY medal & race bib rack

One of the fun souvenirs that one receives upon completing a race is getting a medal, or being given a race bib. A lot of the obstacle course races give out medals and headbands, and a lot of the road and trail running races give out race bibs. Some road/trail races do give out medals as well, but that tends to be reserved for longer distances or for people who finish in the top 3, overall.

When one has completed several races, one quickly realizes that surely, there must be a way to turn this clutter into magic! How can one prominently display one’s accomplishments? When I did a search for custom DIY medal and race bib racks, I was not satisfied with the results. The medals would be stacked on hooks, and seldom did the racks include spaces for bibs, too. Somehow, I envisioned a two-tiered rack. It was difficult for me to describe when I was trying to find the pieces for it, but I knew what I needed:

  • some rods
  • some metal open loop hooks
  • some circular fasteners
  • a mounting piece about 2 feet by 2 feet in size
  • paint
  • a way to adhere photos to the rackclasping rings

My quest began at a dollar store, where I first searched for the circular fasteners. I kept asking the sales people for “metal rings that look like key rings” and no one could show me what I wanted. Eventually, I found what I needed at a craft store, one that sells scrapbooking supplies. It was important that the rings be able to clasp closed and open easily. Cost so far, $8.

painted dowel rodsI continued my adventure, whereby I went to Home Depot with a friend, and looked around the store to see what I might want. Metal pipes were not exactly the aesthetic I wanted, and neither was plastic PVC. I kept looking about and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted some wooden dowels. Yes! I would make it out of wood! The dowels were 4 feet long and I knew I wouldn’t need them to be that big, so my friend helped me saw the dowel in half. Bought a sanding block to sand off the edges where we blunt-sawed the thing. Knowing that I wanted the dowels to slide into some hooks, I looked around for some screw hooks that would be the correct size. Found what I wanted, and acquired those. Cost so far, $8 ($3 for the dowel and $5 for the hooks).

This is the wood, and this was the paint job I gave it.

Now that I decided my rack was to be made out of wood, I went on a mission to find some scrap wood. The Home Depot only had larger pieces and ones that had already been treated. I wanted wood that was untreated so that I could paint it. Some friends suggested lumber yards, but I was not willing to procure a vehicle to head out to the industrial part of town, especially since they likely would only be open business hours. With the intent of making my way to a more local-to-me lumber shop, I was riding my bicycle home from work one afternoon and saw the back of a lumber shop that I had no idea existed! Guess when something is in your mind, all of a sudden, you see it everywhere! I promptly steered into the shop and asked the sales gentleman if he had any scrap pieces of wood, that were approximately 2 feet by 2 feet. He showed me to the pile of wood, where I plucked out the gem I was seeking! I asked him if I could put it aside to pick up on a Saturday morning, and it cost me a cool $3 !

My next order of business was to decide which race pictures I wanted to affix to the rack. I chose my favourites, and then I used Gimp to change the resolution of the pictures to 300 dpi and make the size of each picture 4 by 6 inches. I ordered them from a print shop and asked them to print it on a cardstock (60 lb), so that the Mod Podge wouldn’t ruin the paper. Mod Podge is that goopy stuff used to make papier-mâché. It can also be used to affix photos or pictures to all kinds of surfaces. I used the matte version. Cost of printing the pictures, $6 and the Mod Podge was $5.

While I was at the art supply shop looking at the Mod Podge, I was contemplating colour of paint to use. The sales person in the store told me that I could use a cheap acrylic on the wood. I asked them if there was a way that I could make the paint into a “stain”, and they showed me the staining medium that went with the paint! I spent at least a week humming and hahing about what colour to use, and I decided silver would look best. Cost of paint and brushes from dollar store, $8. I mixed the staining medium and paint about a 2-to-1 ratio; I didn’t want the paint to be too prominent and 1-to-1 like the bottle recommended still seemed to leave the paint a little too thick, as I wanted the wood grain to show through.

pictures affixed to board
7 layers of Mod Podge later

Now that I finally had all of my pieces, I had to decide where to place the pictures and the dowels. Looking back on where I placed things, I would not have chosen to attach pictures on the bottom, and I would have also used double sided tape to keep the edges of the pictures down. The Mod Podge was causing the edges to curl up a little bit. I ended up using about 7 layers of Mod Podge to get the pictures to adhere, and I think that if I had taped them down properly to start with, the edges of the pictures would not have wrinkled under the wetness of the Mod Podge.

drill hole
Expertly marked drill points

I decided I wanted to put the dowel rods in the middle and at the bottom of the wood, so that the top rod could hold the race bibs, and so that the bottom rod could hold the medals. I measured the total width of the board and drew little dots with a Sharpie of where I wanted to screw in the hooks that were equal distance from the edges. Screwing in the hooks was dead easy, but they aren’t the most straight, and I could not get them completely flush with the wood. That didn’t matter too much to me, since I knew the bibs and medals would hide that. Though, I was a little worried that the weight of the medals would yank the hooks out of the wood…

Hooks in the right places
Hooks are in the right places!
hooks not quite flush
The hooks are not quite flush…





Here is what I meant about the hooks not sitting flush with the wood. At least the hooks were in the correct places!

I slid the dowel rods into the rack, and voila!

finished rack!
Now the rack is complete!!

I haven’t gotten around to properly mounting the piece on the wall, because I would need a drill and some fasteners. This is why the picture at the top of this post has the rack perched on a table on top of another table. Total cost = $38