Happy Saturday evening, readers! Today was pretty uneventful and I spent most of the day being lazy with a splitting headache. I did, however, manage to squeeze in 7 miles late this morning. I thought they were some pretty hideous miles – slow and sluggish. I began falling apart between 4 and 5 and knew then that I should’ve brought my water bottle with me. It was warm and I was parched. Rookie mistake #47859 in the books!
In this post I want to get down and dirty about races and good ol’ cash money. I’ve received the same questions on numerous occasions over the past month or so from the Ruggles (non-runners, similar to their Harry Potter Muggle counterparts): “Do you have to PAY for races? Why? What’s the money used for? I thought you just run!”
Let me start off by saying that I’ve never directed a race so I won’t claim to know where every dollar and penny is spent. I do know that there are t-shirts to be made, refreshments to be served, awards to be given, police to be paid, and local permits to be acquired. I assume that these costs start to rack up, especially for small, local races. For large race productions on the other hand, I will assume that most of the registration fees collected are put toward these overhead costs with the remainder going toward company profit.
It used to be that if you were a runner, you would just run, usually for little to no money. Times have changed! You can attribute this to inflation or to the fact that the sport has taken off and folks realize there’s money to be made. Again, I’m not too sure. What I do know is that some of these races are insanely priced and that will inherently dictate who can and can’t participate. That bothers me.
Personally, I don’t have too much beef with paying a race fee especially if a portion of the proceeds is going to charity. However, I want to know exactly what the charity is and how the money will be used which is sometimes hard to figure out. I also place a self-imposed cap on the races I run. I paid $90 for RnR NOLA plus the Active.com fee (about $8). For me, anything over $100 for a marathon is too expensive for my pocket unless it’s going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity, e.g. NYC (2012 price is $255), Boston ($300), etc., neither of which I’m running. And, let’s face it, I’m way too slow to qualify for Boston anyway. For half marathons, I think a price range of $40-65 is reasonable and from what I’ve seen this is pretty average.
Sometimes there’s a “no t-shirt” option. I see t-shirts as a perk. I don’t expect one because I choose my races based on my schedule, training plan, and what I think will be a fun or challenging race or distance – not on whether or not I’ll receive a shirt in my registration packet. I have weeded through many shirts lately and a good portion have been donated to local shelters or charities. It’s the memories that matter the most, not the swag that comes with those memories.
In a nutshell, it’s clear that race fees have skyrocketed over the years for a variety of reasons. To recap, if you are looking to race but money is tight, here are some good alternatives:
1. Choose the “no t-shirt” option if available
2. Look at your local race schedule. Many times you can find the distance you want at a fraction of the cost of larger races conducted by a race company.
3. Enter a virtual race. Many bloggers host virtual races of varying distances for free. Sure, you’re not running with someone right beside you but the same reasons you race will still kick in – camaraderie, competition, and pushing yourself beyond your limits.
4. Outline your race calendar early in the year if possible so you know your projected expenditures. Like anything else, budget yourself. And, if you just HAVE to run a Rock n’ Roll race or any other big name production, limit yourself. Your wallet will thank you!
Do you think race fees are overblown? Do you choose races based on price? How do you feel about big race companies making pure profit off runners?