Design Custom T-Shirts For Your Walk, Marathon or Run

Design Custom T-Shirts For Your Walk, Marathon or Run

Designing Custom T-Shirts for Your Walking, Running, or Marathon Event

Planning a walking, running, or marathon event takes a lot of work. You have to organize routes, aid stations, volunteers, and more. But one important detail that often gets overlooked is designing custom t-shirts for your participants. A good t-shirt serves as a souvenir and walking advertisement for your event. With some forethought, you can create shirts that your walkers and runners will be excited to wear during and after your event.

In this article, we’ll take you through the process of designing custom t-shirts specifically for walking, running, and marathon events. We’ll look at ideas for designs, factors to consider, tips for ordering, and more so you can create awesome shirts for your participants. Let’s get started!

Brainstorm Design Ideas

The first step is coming up with a design idea (or ideas) for your event t-shirts. Here are some things to think about:

Incorporate Your Event Name, Date, Location

You definitely want to include basic event details like the name, date, location, etc. so people know which event the shirt is for. Get creative with how you display this information - it doesn’t just have to be plain text.

For example, you could create a logo just for your event that stylishly showcases the name. Or you could design graphics related to your event’s location and work the details into that.

Use Symbols Related to Walking, Running, Marathons

It’s always a good idea to incorporate universal symbols related to walking, running and marathons. For example:

  • Shoe prints
  • Trail markings
  • Finish line ribbons
  • Medals
  • Stopwatches
  • Mileage signs

You can keep it simple and just use one or two of these symbols. Or design an intricate graphic featuring many of them.

Feature Your Route

If your walking, running or marathon route features any famous landmarks or scenery, consider showcasing aspects of the route in your shirt design.

For example, if your route goes by the Golden Gate bridge, you could silhouette the bridge’s iconic shape. Or if you pass by a famous monument, feature that. This gives your shirts a unique, location-specific look.

Create a Map of Your Route

Along the lines of showcasing your route, another idea is creating a map of your route right on the shirts. It doesn’t have to be too detailed or to scale. Just creatively show the basic path of your route.

This is especially good for marathon routes that cover a lot of ground. The map design would look dynamic on a t-shirt.

Use Inspiring Quotes

Using inspirational quotes is another great way to design memorable t-shirts that get your participants excited about your walking, running or marathon event.

Some examples:

  • "One step at a time"
  • "Never limit your challenges, challenge your limits"
  • "The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start"

You can pair these with related graphics - like footprints walking along a path for the "one step at a time" quote.

Feature Fun Themes

If you want your shirts to have more of a fun, playful vibe, incorporate some themes walkers and runners will get a kick out of. Like:

  • "Will walk/run for donuts" with graphics of donuts
  • "Eat. Sleep. Walk/Run. Repeat."
  • "I signed up so I wouldn't have to train anymore"

Lighthearted designs like these will make your participants smile.

As you can see, there are lots of options for t-shirt designs related to walking, running and marathon events. Brainstorm different ideas, get input from your team, and choose designs you think your participants will love wearing.

Choose the Right Shirt Style

In addition to the design, the other key factor is choosing the right t-shirt style for your event and participants. Here are some things to consider:


The shirt material is important because walkers and runners will be wearing these shirts while being active - potentially over long distances. The material needs to be:

  • Breathable - to allow airflow and ventilation
  • Lightweight - so it's not heavy and hot on long walks/runs
  • Moisture-wicking - to pull sweat away from skin

Polyester and poly-blend fabrics have these qualities. Cotton t-shirts will be very heavy and hot when sweaty.


The shirt fit also needs to allow a full range of motion without restriction for walkers and runners. Consider choosing:

  • Loose fit - the looser, the better for movement
  • Longer length - provides more coverage as arms swing
  • High-neck collar - prevents chafing and irritation

Avoid any tight-fitting shirt styles.


You’ll need to decide whether to offer standard S-XL sizing, numerical sizing (36, 38, 40, etc.) or a combination.

Standard sizing is simpler for ordering. But some participants prefer numerical sizes.

Consider allowing people to swap out sizes if the shirt they receive doesn’t fit well. This ensures everyone has a shirt they feel comfortable walking and running in.

Choosing the right shirt style is just as important as the design for participant satisfaction and comfort during your event.

Ordering Tips

When you’re ready to place your t-shirt order, keep these tips in mind:

Order Early

It’s best to order your shirts 1-2 months in advance of the event date. This gives you buffer room in case of any delays or issues with the order.

You want the shirts delivered with enough time for participants to wear them during training walks/runs leading up to the event.

Ordering early also allows time to swap out any damaged shirts or wrong sizes.

Get Accurate Counts

When collecting shirt size counts from participants, have them fill out registration forms indicating their size.

Follow up with those who haven’t specified a size yet instead of just guessing. The more accurate your counts, the less likely you’ll end up with leftover shirts.

Request Samples

Before finalizing a large order, request a sample shirt or two in different sizes.

This allows you to check details like:

  • Print quality
  • Shirt fit
  • Color accuracy

If anything needs tweaking, you can request changes before the full order goes to production.

Quality Check Delivery

Inspect shirts thoroughly as soon as they’re delivered before handing them out. Look for:

  • Defects in printing or stitching
  • Consistent sizing across all shirts ordered
  • Issues with color accuracy

Catching any problems early allows you to request replacements in time for your event.

Following these tips will help streamline the t-shirt ordering and delivery process so your walkers, runners and marathon participants have great quality keepsakes to wear proudly.

We hope this overview gives you lots of ideas and tips for designing awesome custom t-shirts for your upcoming walking, running and marathon events. The shirts serve as a memorable keepsake and mobile advertisement for participants. If you implement the recommendations covered here, your participants will love repping your unique, creative designs during training and at the big event!