If the depleted bodies of ING Miami Marathon finishers haven't resorted to feeding on their eye muscles for fuel reserves during the 26.2 miles (or 13.1 for the half) of the race, they'll be greeted with an exciting sight at the finish line. The medal for this year's tenth anniversary race on January 29th features a weighty and bold number "10" backed by the Miami skyline, and strung up with a ribbon designed by celebrity pop artist Stephen Gamson.
Among other high profile projects, Gamson has been a featured artist at Art Basel, where he created a design that adorned a Lamborghini in 2010; his work has appeared at the Cannes Film Festival; and he's been commissioned by Cafe Bustelo, Prince Albert the II, the Sony Ericcson Open, and the City of Miami.
This year, the runner count is expected to exceed 25,000 for the first time. Many participants are collectors of Miami's marathon medals, which over the years have included 3-D palm trees and even a one carat diamond. This year's celebratory medal weighs a massive 8.1 ounces, about six times the bulk of the first Miami Marathon's measly 1.3 ounce medal.
ING Marathon co-founder Frankie Ruiz came to Gamson after seeing his design on the Lamborghini for Art Basel last year, which featured figures running. Gamson was pleased to sign on to the project.
"It's something I'm excited to participate in, especially since it's got such a cult following in Miami, and 68 percent of the people are going to be coming from outside this area," Gamson said. "I thought it would be a positive energy experience to be involved in. These things stay with people for the rest of their lives, [hanging] on rearview mirrors or headboards, or framed and put in people's offices and homes. I thought it would be great to be a part of their lives."
His design features runners of both genders, stars, and clean lines. He purposely kept the design simple in the interest of achieving visual harmony between the medal and the ribbon.
"I thought it would be better to do something big and bold for the easy read, as opposed to something that was busy and so colorful that it would take away from the award itself. So I wanted to keep it understated in a way so you can appreciate the medal for what it is, as a medal, rather than it being about just my artwork."
Gamson's ribbon features lines like rays of sunshine emanating from the top of the medal. "If you look at it the right way, it looks like a sun's rising behind the city of Miami. It was a nice play, collaborating the medal and the ribbon, tying them in together so that they're more of one piece as opposed to in the past, where ... the ribbon was the ribbon, the medal was the medal."
Gamson doesn't run much himself these days, but he used to compete in 10K races, and this project has sparked a renewed interest in exercise and fitness for the artist.
"I have great admiration and respect for anyone that makes a commitment to something as significant as a marathon," Gamson said. "And I'm grateful that I will become a part of this celebration in that my artwork will be a part of the achievement award for finishing the race. And it's inspirational for me to get out there and start exercising myself a little bit more."
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Gamson's upcoming projects include designing Moet Champagne bottles for the Miami Wine and Food Festival and the exterior of a new luxury electric car.