Stickers tell a story

  • This was printed in May of 2015 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 103rd installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

If you take one look at the back end of my car you’ll know I’m a runner.

It started with one sticker — a pink “13.1” surrounded by a pink oval —

affixed to my back windshield. This sticker initiated me into the secret club

of people with seemingly obscure numbers stuck onto their vehicles.

Non-athletes might not know why someone has the number 26.2 attached

to their bumper. Certainly numbers like 70.3 and 140.6 are even more


But if you’re in the “know” you may see such a number and feel a certain

respect for the person driving that car. Running a marathon (which 26.2

signifies) is not easy, nor is completing a half-Ironman (70.3) triathlon or a

full Ironman (140.6).

Stickers have taken over the back of my car as I’ve progressed in my

running. Above the original 13.1 sticker is a 26.2, and atop that is 50m

(miles). I’m in need of a 100K sticker, but haven’t gotten around to ordering


I have two special 26.2 ovals, one with my Boston Qualifying time of

3:29:36 on it, and the other is the official 2015 Boston Marathon sticker.

Even my license plate frame says, “I BQ’d at the Modesto Marathon.”

I’ve been teased for “bragging” through my stickers. My argument is this:

How is putting a running sticker on my car any different from someone

putting any other type of bumper sticker on their car?

The things we put on our cars, the clothes we wear, the way we decorate

our homes and even the cases we put on our cell phones differentiate us

from one another, displaying our uniqueness and individuality. It’s to make

a statement and say, “This is who I am.”

I’m a runner, and my car is filled with running stickers reflecting the

distances I’ve run.

A person who wants to let others know that they are Christian may affix an

Ichthys (“Jesus fish”) sticker to their bumper. Other stickers may point out

that the driver is a Democrat or Republican, a veteran, or the parent of an

honor student or military member.

Minivans and other family cars often feature little stick figure families on

their back windows, sometimes complete with dogs and cats. Perhaps

those motorists put those stickers on their vehicles because they are proud

of their families and their pets.

Sometimes the figures are holding a baseball bat and gloves, pom-poms, a

briefcase, etc. to show the hobbies, occupation, or uniqueness of the

person it represents. It’s just a way to let the world (or just passing

motorists) know a little bit more about us.


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