These days I only do events where the finishing token is worth keeping. Not because it's better than anything else, but because the event itself is worth getting out of bed for.
A Basutu Blanket, some belt buckles, some wire animals..
The only participation medal I would accept is a silver at Oceans.
The allure of racing, races and events eludes me these days. I was talked into doing a running race a few weeks ago and to get to registration and have the checks done and make my start batch I had to get up at 4am to run 50km of trails I could have got up and run at a reasonable time the next day. I was grumbly to myself about that and how much of an idiot I was for being talked into it.
BUT, on that, I'm kinda with Skubarra. If you're going to hand out medals, metal ones are definitely better. Unless they are awesome recycled plastic cups made by a community project and the proceeds of the race go towards that community... or some such.
I would definitely take a 500ml coke bottle trophy.
Energy events went through a stage of giving out potted succulents and a stodels gift card instead of medals. My wife liked that