Running 13, 13.1's in 2013 and the thoughts along the way!

Race Fees…Are They Worth It?

on July 26, 2013


I was excited when Run with an Idea selected race fees as our next topic for discussion, I was planning a post like this anyways so it was perfect timing! Be sure to check out what other think on this topic and feel free to weigh in on the discussion!

When beginning to plan out my 13, 13.1 challenge I struggled with finding 13 races that didn’t require me to travel across the country. As cool as that would have been, I also have to maintain some type of a budget. Then finally finding my 13 races and making them work with my schedule…I had to pay for them. Yikes! I have spent on average of $50 per race…for those that need a calculator that is just about $650. $650! Do you know how many things I could have bought a Lululemon for that? Ok well not as many as I would like, but still $650 is alot of money and there are alot of things I could have done with it. Not to mention 2 races required a hotel and all but 2 races have been over an hour away….so yes this has been an expensive challenge, but it has been worth it. It is my hobby and while most people have a hobby that they spend some of their hard earned money on, I feel I get a bonus out of mine as I also get the benefits of physical activity every time I run, and there is no price tag for that! Back to the original question, are the fees worth it? While I have accepted the cost, I strongly disagree with many races and the cost that they charge to sign up. Before going further, I just want to put in a side note, that I realize many races are for charity, but many are not, so when all race fees go to the cause, I have alot easier time accepting the cost. For the sake of this post I am going to focus on the cost of a  majority of my races which were not for a cause.

I ran half marathon #2 for $10 in February and then paid $75 for my most expensive half which will be lucky #13. I must say my $10 race was one of my favorites and the after party was amazing.  As mentioned before, the fees have averaged out to about $50 per race and its amazing the difference of amenities each race offers. This just boggles my mind, its the same amount of miles no matter how you slice it, but price can vary by $65??? Sure the location of the race is really going to effect this price, the amount of road closures and police support definitely make a difference. The amount of people matters too, I have run half’s with 200 people and then run others with over a 1000, so again I get it, things like that will make a difference in the price. My problem is I have paid the same price for some of my races and the support was completely different. One race did not offer medals and only 1-2 water stops, I felt I was out for a run by myself but had to pay 50 bucks to do it. The race feel was hardly there. While another race, same price offered multiple water stops, medals, after party etc. Both were about the same number of runners and similar locations, so how does that work? How are the fees determined? I don’t have the answer and would love to hear someone who does organize races. Maybe I am missing something.

Here are some of my pet peeves that I think could alleviate costs:

Race shirts-I have more race shirts than I know what to do with. I understand those that may only run one race in their life want the shirt and that is fine, but most times when I register I am asked what size I would like, why not put an option of indicating you would not like a shirt. While I don’t expect a discount, I think it could overall lower the cost of the event. How many extra shirts do you usually see after a race? ALOT!

Swag-Most times this is donated so I am ok with it, but rather than giving me one more key chain or silly piece of paper, why not get a donation to alleviate race costs and throw up a big banner thanking them?

Start time- While this one is a long shot, I never understand the point of a race starting at 10am, why not start at 6:30/7:00a? There is alot less traffic and need for race support.

After party-I usually am not in the mood for a slice of pizza after a race and so many times the amount of food after a race is out of control. I will usually grab a few things to snack on at a later point, but the pizza, chilli, chips, etc…really not necessary. I am good with some bananas and bagels. Next time you are passing through the after party, also note who is enjoying it most…its usually the spectators! While I love their support and think they deserve a little snack…I am always amazed at the amount of non runners taking gatorade and eating the food.

So would I say no to a race that I thought I was too expensive? At the end of day the answer is no. I am going to run whatever race I have picked and suck it up and pay the entry fee. I am just asking those that organize races to keep in mind the fine line of over the top cost verse reasonable for the size and location. Excuse me while I go throw some change in my piggy bank for my next race.

Run On-


3 responses to “Race Fees…Are They Worth It?

  1. 13 x 13.1 is a big challenge, and I’m sure racks up the costs very fast!
    I normally race only once or twice a year, so I tend to be happy spending more on a race, especially if I can build a race-cation around it.
    I like your idea of a ‘no shirt’ option. Very rarely do I keep the shirts unless they are a good tech shirt which would save me buying one. This would lower the overall cost which would in turn result in lower fees.

    • I also wonder if shirt were not even an option, how many people would be upset, I have run a couple races that were only $20-$30 with no shirts or medals and they still had a great turn out and no complaints!

      • I think a lot of people expect a shirt in a swag these days. But there are plenty of seasoned runners who have more tech gear than they need, for whom extra shirts are wasted, I think a ‘no shirt’ option would be a good idea!

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