Showing off the medallion should have been a chance to bask in the glory of their athletic achievement, prompting a string of admiring comments and expressions of concern about the state of their blistered feet.
Instead, many of the 23,000 runners who pounded the city’s streets at the weekend have found their medal has produced some unexpected responses.
Some people have giggled, others have shuffled their feet uncomfortably and seemed lost for words, while others have pointed and shouted an obscenity.
The puzzling response only becomes clear when the medal – which features the acronym EMF, standing for Edinburgh Marathon Festival, against a backdrop of Edinburgh Castle – is held in a certain way. It suddenly looks startlingly like the Kintyre peninsula or, more bluntly, a tacky souvenir from a raucous hen party.
The unfortunate design has amused so many runners that it has started to cause a stir on social networking sites.
Dozens of pictures have been posted featuring the medals in various suggestive poses alongside comments about its graphic design.
One runner on Twitter remarked: “I saw one today and if you turn it round so the plain back is facing forward, the resemblance is uncanny. Everyone who did the marathon was talking about it.”
Ali Wight, 31, from South Queensferry, who ran in the Cockenzie to Prestonpans leg of the relay – officially known as the Cock and Pan leg – wrote: “Little did I know the prize for that would be so symbolic.”
But not everybody was in on the joke. Another runner, Claire, tweeted: “The shape of the medallion....er have I missed something?!”
Edinburgh Marathon debutante Andy Goodson, from Tiptree in Essex, said he was surprised that the designers failed to spot a potential issue.
“My first impression of the medal was that it was a weighty piece of race bling,” he said.
“When I had recovered enough to look at the medal, I realised it was somewhat phallic in shape. Turning it around caused anyone nearby to notice it as well.
“I am a little surprised nobody saw the potential issue, especially as it is designed to have your time added to the back. Someone must have looked at it from that side before it was commissioned.”
“A friend said she noticed its shape straight away and many people in the park and on Twitter have noticed the similarity to reproductive organs. I took it to my running club back home and they all laughed.”
A gold version was given to everyone completing the full marathon and a silver version for runners completing the half marathon and the relay.
EMF director Neil Kilgour said he expected organisers would be hearing jokes for years to come. The design brief for the medal “included detailed measurements,” he said, but no-one had noticed the potential for embarrassment. He added: “It is too early to say whether there will be a redesign of a medal for 2013.”
NOT SO GRAND DESIGNS
Scottish National Party: Its logo, an inverted looped ribbon known as “clootie dumpling”, has undergone a raft of changes since it was launched in the 1960s. One misadventure in 1991 saw a rebrand backfire when the new symbol being circulated resembled a swastika when hung upside down.
London 2012: There was a diplomatic spat when Iran’s government threatened to boycott the Games because it was convinced the Olympic logo spelled out the word Zion – a biblical term for Jerusalem – and was part of a pro-Israel conspiracy.
BBC: Just this week, BBC News broadcast the logo of the fictitious United Nations Space Command from computer game Halo in place of the United Nations Security Council. The corporation apologised for the blunder.