Thursday, June 14, 2012

Are Race Entry Fees Making You Bankrupt?

Some people spend lots of money on fancy shoes and daily mocha no-whip lattes. Me? I spend my “extra” income (if there is any) on – yep, you guessed it– race entry fees.

I will tell you this – I almost spit my non-fancy coffee up out my keyboard earlier this year when I thought I might enter the lottery to for the New York City Marathon.  I know NYC is on everyone’s marathon bucket list. I wanted to get there, or at least start trying. I went through the motions to enter the lottery, but stopped dead in my tracks when I got to the fee page.

$255

Yes, that is right. $255 for a stinking marathon. There has been a 65% increase over the past five years for this race. Last year it was $196. Oh, and if you are unfortunate enough to live outside of the U.S., it is $347.

Yes, I get it. It is NYC and everything is expensive there. I understand that somewhere in that town there is a famous statue holding a torch and arguably the best pizza in the world.  All I can say is that for that price, the water at the aid stations better be specked with gold and the porta potties better be spotting the softest Charmin this side of the Mississippi. No, I did not end up registering.

Imagine that each of these millions of bodies paid $255
{source}

You have to figure that for most people the race entry fee is just the beginning. Then there are airline tickets, food, lodging, car rentals, etc. It costs about 4 million dollars just to travel to and run a race. Too bad Oprah doesn’t do marathons anymore because her bank account has got what it takes.

I’ve only been running for a few years, but even in that short time I’ve seen race entry fees sky rocket. Running is now a business.  I understand the costs that go into putting on a race (permits, timing, police, emergency services, aid stations, staff, insurance, swag bags), and I can appreciate that entry fees need to offset certain expenses. I also know that with more people running certain races, the course has to stay open longer, thereby increasing costs.

Is it just me or have the Rock ‘n Roll races gotten way more expensive? I think my entry for Vegas last year was $165 or so. In the end, that was some big bucks to have post-race diarrhea for four days. But, that’s another blog post.

Here is a detailed graph from Stride Nation showing the fee increases for some of the most popular US marathons:

image

Yes, I make a choice to enter and pay for races. Yes, I could stay home and watch The Simpsons and eat Pop Tarts. The bottom line is that race entry fees have gone up, and it seems that the increase is inching towards price gouging. As running, and marathons in particular, get more popular, it seems the race planners are becoming more and more opportunistic. I guess they figure, why not charge it if people will pay it? I know most races donate to charities, but I would love to see the actual breakdown.

For me, I see race entry fees as a necessary evil to do something that I love.  I enjoy races. I love the race energy. I love the swag and the after race beer gardens. I enjoy destination races where I can make running a part of my vacation. I have budgeted the fees and will continue to pay them. But, just like your Aunt Ethel who complains every year that her hemorrhoids are getting worse, I will complain about the rising costs of racing. Heck, I’ve got nothing better to do. First world problems for sure!!

Some tips to save money on races:  

  • If you want to stick to smaller or less known races, you can still get some real bargains.
  • With most races it’s worth it to register early for reduced fees.
  • The Rock ‘n Roll races usually offer coupon codes, so Google that before you make your final payment.
  • Another way to offset costs is to join a group like Team in Training and do some fundraising. They will usually cover your race fee and travel in exchange.

What do you think? Have race fees increased over the past 3-5 years? Are the increases warranted?

What’s the most expensive race you’ve ever done? The Boulder 70.3 at $250. I can “get” why races like this are so pricey given the multi sport aspect.

SUAR

96 comments:

  1. My most expensive to date was the Goofy Challenge at Disney. While I realize it was 2 races, the $300+ fee was hard to swallow. I recently looked into a 5k that was $75? Are you kidding me?? I'll go run around my neighborhood for 3 miles instead thank you very much.

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    1. I'm with you and the one I saw was only $65 for a 10k.

      p.s. GO TEAM!!!

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  2. I paid $100 for Tough Mudder and to do so I had to sign up the day registration opened. Early bird catches the cheap race entry worm right? I started racing in 2006 and definitely have seen prices jump. I live in Northern Virginia so races are easy to come by but I still have to shell out sometimes $40 for a 5k. So I try to do all my races locally so I have very little expenses for travel. Times are tough for the financially strapped runner :( *plays worlds smallest violin*

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  3. I've written about this, and I agree that it's gotten crazy. I think the popularity of the Rock 'n' Roll races and their fees (and effort to seemingly monopolize races) have made it a standard to charge $100 for anything that's 13.1 or farther. People have come to accept it and as they do, race directors realize that people will pay more and up the entries. I think it takes away the spirit of running - that you can just lace up your shoes and go - because it makes it almost an exclusive club. At least that's how I feel when I see blogger after blogger race great races as I'm trying to stretch my grocery budget and count the days till my son is out of diapers.

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  4. I haven't been able to bring myself to pay more than $85 for a race. If there was some great swag associated with it maybe I would but in the end it's just running for a medal for me and I don't really care usually what the medal looks like, so I stick with races that are small and close to home.

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  5. I have 35 races scheduled this year and budgeted $4,000 for everything (incl. airline tickets, hotels, parking etc). It's definitely steep but I figured it's better than spending them on designer handbags.

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    1. Of course also better than feeding 3000 starving children in Africa.

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    2. @ anonymous :What an asenine response.Next time you go buy yourself something, remember how YOU are not feeding those children in Africa. Seriously, so stupid.

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  6. I agree it is expensive I try and do early bird or find a.coupon I also only do local raves that I can drive to sms maybe only spend the night because of the expense

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  7. I agree it is expensive I try and do early bird or find a.coupon I also only do local raves that I can drive to sms maybe only spend the night because of the expense

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  8. I agree it is expensive I try and do early bird or find a.coupon I also only do local raves that I can drive to sms maybe only spend the night because of the expense

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  9. I definitely want to run NYC and would pay to do it b/c I've heard such great things about it. However, RNR I think is absolutely ridiculous and I DO NOT think their prices are warranted. I could go on and on but I think it's generally a mediocre/crowded race experience (I don't mind big races but...) with average swag and lazy course mapping (you can do better than impersonal out and backs!!)

    My last full marathon was like $75 and the one I'm eyeing for this fall is $85 which is totally reasonable, IMO.

    Also speaking of price gouging...have you seen the advertising for the Color Run? It's a 5K series going on across the country...$50 for "late" registration ("late" still being 3 MONTHS prior to the race) I have friends that want to run it, but no thanks for that price! I've signed up to volunteer instead!

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  10. i think the bigger races increase their fees to discourage not so serious races which helps keep the numbers down. there are a lot of costs to running a big race such as police fees, potties, street closure fees etc.... and what is said is a lot of these races the money does NOT go to charity. wouldn't it be nice if those big fee races also had a hundred or so that they gave away for charitable reasons to someone that deserve to run that race but couldn't afford it. just my opinion.

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    1. I don't know about discouraging less serious racers. Seems the bigger races are full of people who are newer to running. I think it is more because they know people will pay it regardless. And, they do.

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    2. Agree with SUAR On this one...seems like there's a lot of newbies at many races...nOt like that's a bad thing, but yeah...

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  11. The worst part about the higher race fees is that it forces me to do fewer races than I would like to. But when there are races I know I want to do, I make sure to sign up early so I get the best pricing. I typically prefer smaller races that are less expensive and give money to charities.

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  12. The price of the NYC marathon is exactly why I didn't register. Living in Canada didn't help my case either. And this one (of course) is on my bucket list. Race fees can be outrageous these days!

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    1. At the bigger races like NY and Chicago, they are paying the elite racers to show up. I read Liz Robbin's mediocre book about the 2007 NYC marathon called "A Race Like No Other" and they were paying the elites $100K just to show up!!!!

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    2. Interesting, did knot know that.

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    3. That makes the fee even more frustrating for me.

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    4. I have no objection to elites getting huge appearance fees. If they are among the best in the world, they should be doing well for themselves and I want to see an amazing race at NYC, Boston, etc.. Other athletes (NFL, NBA, etc certainly do far beyond this).

      That said, as someone running since 1997 the fees are absurd. I think it's a combination of simple supply/demand (and the rise of for-profit racing companies) as well as the consumer demand for more high-tech things (tech shirts, chip timing, fancy food afterwards, etc.)

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    5. Elites fees can be much higher. Paula Radcliffe commanded $500,000 in her prime. This article is a bit dated but makes the point. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59283-2005Apr16.html

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  13. I couldn't do a fraction of the races I've done this year had I not been picked for the team at BRC...it's just WAY too expensive. I've found, too, that you can ask RDs if you can volunteer in exchange for a race entry - that has worked for me for about 4 races this year. Won't work on larger races, but rather the small local ones and those are actually really fun. I balance out the fees I do pay for by cutting out something else. I don't go out very often and I don't shop hardly at all. Unless it's running shoes. :)

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  14. Jeez now that I think about it I paid a fortune last Fall/winter between Nike Womens, RnR Las Vegas and Disneys Tinkerbell halfs. I've basically cut back on the shorter distance races - I used to do about 2 5ks a month, but those can easily be at least $35 a pop.

    RnR sucks me in with their National Running Day discount every time, but at least I play it smart and register for a race that is a ways off and it came in under 70 bucks.

    I am still fairly young and single so I am going to enjoy my traveling for races while I still can. Last year was Vegas and San Fran. This year it's been Portland and Maui is next!

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    1. Okay, Maui. That is one that I will have to do someday.

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  15. Boston was $300......and, in my opinion, worth every penny. That said, I normally won't pay more than $100 for any other race of any distance.

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    1. I agree...there are just some races you pay for because they are a life experience you will never forget.

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  16. My husband is very tightfisted when it comes to racing so I don't race more than once a month, and I don't think I've spent more than $70 on a single race.

    Thankfully, I like small races and I don't care about bling or swag. I just want to get out there and have a good time.

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  17. Don't even get me started on this subject, cause here I go! I have boycotted any races by one promoter after a bad experience at one of their races when they decided to open it up to 30,000 runners after only 3000 the year before. No course adjustments, terrible course management with the 5K runners and walkers lining up with the 15K runners. After the race, the lines for food were ridiculous, because of course, the 5K runners finished way ahead of us. The other race I did by this sponsor was a half and I paid $85 dollars for "the best goody bag on the north shore" aka a crappy men's shirt that would have fit my 250# husband and a hat. If they are going to make us pony up big bucks for these races, they better up the perks, that's what I say. No race day packet pick up? So they can get us to go to the expos and spend more $$$?

    And while we're at it, what's up with medals for short distance races, like 5Ks and 10Ks? Reminds me of when my kids played soccer and they got "participation trophies" every season.

    Yep, I'm a cranky old runner. Been at this a long time. I'm glad more people are running, but like everything, greed is ruining the sport I love.

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  18. I was kind of frustrated with the fees for the Rock n' Roll 1/2 marathon in San Diego. I registered fairly early and with a coupon and still ended up paying abut $115 or so. I was especially frustrated to find that they included a "free" ticket to Seaworld with that. I basically felt like I was paying for that ticket, which I didn't want to or intend to use. :/ I would've been happier paying less for the registration sans that ticket. I also think you end up "paying" for your shirts. There are very few race shirts that I wear again...I think races should give you the option of registering for a reduced price w/o the shirt. Just my $0.02. ;)

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  19. I actually think what has been going on over the last couple of years is an actual increase in the "running movement" and because of that, more people are running, more interest, and now more price adjustments. Running has become this "bling thing" now, women are running in sparkle and outfits and it's now this fun time thing you do with your besties. I actually like how fun it all has become - however, when something becomes popular, all the price gougers usually come out to take advantage. ugh!!!

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    1. And I should mention, I won't pay much for 5k's anymore. I run 5k's or more with all of my training runs so I'm certainly not paying money to run one. ha ha Also, for some comparison, the Indy 500 Mini Marathon (Half) that I just ran and is the nation's largest Half is $60 at the moment. I think that is up about $5 from last year, but still reasonable right now. :-) If it budges closer to $100, then I certainly won't run it again. There are enough other Halfs going on to choose from in my neck of the woods!

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  20. They have gotten WAY more expensive sine the late 80's when I started racing.I sign up as early as possible to get the best deal and this year even got some great deals on everything from 5k's to olympic distance tris. Schwaggle, groupon etc.. have deals woth looking into.I paid 130$ for R&R vegas, only to be publicly humiliated when I barfed in fromt of hundreds of people! That was my most expensive race to date!

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  21. I just registered for the California International Marathon, which cost $105, making it my most expensive race. However I didn't have sticker shock since I paid $85 for the Oakland Half Marathon this past March. When they're closing down roads and there are a lot of logistical hurdles, I think those prices are reasonable. Also, Oakland Running Festival actually donated a significant amount back into the local community, which made me feel better about the registration fee. On the other hand, I've seen prices get jacked way up for the wine country runs organized by Destination Races. I ran the Napa-to-Sonoma Half 4 years ago when it was $60 or $70. Now the half marathons start at $100 or so. I really doubt that their costs have gone up that much to warrant the price increase.

    In general, I like running local races, especially the trail ones, precisely because they are cheaper, smaller, have prettier scenery,and filled with REAL runners. ;) Also, the local racing club puts on monthly races that are $5 in advance and $7 day of!

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  22. Here in South Africa road races are fairly reasonable and about two rand per kilometer (80 to 100 SA rand for a marathon). Trail running is very expensive and totally unaffordable for most.

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  23. I like pricing out my races. My ideal race costs under a $1.00 per mile. Disney and Rock n' Roll are WELL over $10.00 which is ridiculous (but yet I pay).

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  24. I got a less expensive entry into Chicago this year for $100 by signing up for Run For Autism. Obviously a cause dear to my heart but I completely agree that some races esp RnR races are to expensive. There are many more smaller marathons that are under $100 in our area to but not many halfs esp in the summer. I think like for NY it's a place I've never been and it's like a bucket list race for me. But I would have to live in a bubble and not get hurt to not blow that amount of money on the race kwim?

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  25. The most expensive race(s) I've ever done have been Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Switzerland ($450 USD) + all the travel costs + the copious amounts of food we ate while training. I'm surprised I didn't go bankrupt.
    I managed to get a qualifying spot for NYC this year and just about shit myself when I saw how much entry fees were for out of country folks. But, it's on my bucket list so I paid it. The last time I did Boston (2003) it was $100 USD and I thought *that* was expensive. It's now up to $300 I think but, I'll pay it. It's worth every penny.

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  26. I have just run my first race, The Warrior Dash… It was the most amazing time so now of course I want to run more races! I have my heart set on a half marathon and the rock n roll one seemed like a great idea- at over $100 I hesitate to register.. especially since my husband and I were planning on doing it together.. but I feel like it would really be a great time.. Maybe at least once :) I know this is small peanuts to the cost of marathons- but I really don’t get how it’s ok for them to be that much money!

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  27. I will not run New York because it is so expensive. At least in Chicago, we would have family that we could stay with. I can't justify spending $1,000, on a race. I am pretty sure that is how much I would spend. I entered the lottery last year, but didn't this year. DH wold blow a gasket to see that charge on our credit card.

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  28. Tough Mudder is the only race I don't mind paying extra for- I mean, come on, it's just that freaking awesome, and someone has to pay for all those paramedics-but even at that, I register as early as possible. If a 5k is more than $20, it better be 100% donated to charity, and even then, I might not run it. I've found many small, local events that range from 5k to half marathons that only cost between $15 and $25. And they all give t-shirts!
    I also tend to think of race fees in pairs, since most every race I enter, my husband is running, too.
    I won't run some of the big names races that are purely for profit, nor will I ever run NYC- too many people, too far away, too much money.
    As it is, I like to joke with my husband that the only reason I have a job is to pay for our race fees, since that's where 75% of my income goes (I don't make much... at all).

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  29. As I found out yesterday, even TNT doesn't pay your race fees (at least for cycling) anymore. We are required to raise $1600 per person just to be labeled as part of their team and be able to participate. They, in turn, pay for our hotel for the night and a couple of the meals (which still very kind! But they don't pay the race fees.)

    Sarah
    www.thinfluenced.com

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    1. Wow, really??? They paid everything for me, but that was back in 2009.

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    2. They paid my race entry this spring and are doing it again this fall...

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    3. Must just be cyclIng/specific race feed cos they paid for my 26.2 this past March...

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  30. My first marathon cost me 7 cents! True story. The entry fee for the 1978 San Francisco Marathon was $7. When my bank cashed the check, instead of debiting my account for $7.00, they posted it as $0.07. My second marathon was the 1978 New York City Marathon. I forget what the entry fee was, but everyone should try to run that race at least once in their lives. Ditto London, which I ran in 1986. Did anyone out there run either of these races? New York in 1978 was brutally hot. London in 1986 was miserably cold and wet. It's tough when you spend a lot of money to travel across the country or across the ocean and then have to run in horrid conditions, but that's the non-monetary price you sometimes have to pay on top of the entry fee.

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  31. I ran several marathons before I had my daughter and met my husband/her father at one--which never would have happened if race fees cost back then as much as they do now! I was a coach for ~10 years and most of my race fees were covered, but I NEVER balked at paying fees when it was my responsibility. Marathon entry fees were rarely even $100 dollars - the year I ran NYC, I think it was only $85.

    Fast forward 6+ years: I announced to friends/family/everyone who's tired of hearing me bitch for the past six years about how I haven't run a marathon since before I got pregnant (I was training for one when I got knocked up and was a high risk pregnancy and had to decrease my mileage, blah blah sad trombone) that I'm going to run a marathon for my 40th birthday this year. When I went to register for the race, the only thing that made me pony up my race fee was pride. (Okay, and the thought of my daughter's enthusiasm. We're running a 5k together the weekend before, and she's SO excited!)

    When I factor in the cost of shoes, clothing/sports bras, travel and lodging, how early one usually needs to register to get an entry (not to mention an 'early bird' special) -- I definitely feel the pinch. I have students that I'll train for a 5- or 10k, but then they don't register because they can't afford the fees, even for local races. I'm glad I did most of my marathoning when I could afford it!

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  32. This is why I didn't register for New York! I was in the time-qualified bracket, too, in which I could register without the lottery. I'm not anymore: you have to run sub-3:00 as a woman to skip the lottery starting next year. But I couldn't justify that race fee after paying an arm and a leg for Boston already.
    RnR is just disgusting. The only one I run is the one here in New Orleans since there is no travel cost for me. And who can resist a marathon in your own hometown?

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  33. Some race fees are out of control. I was going to register for some out of state races a week or so ago. Yeah, the race fees were somewhat reasonable, the flights were not. I know I couldn't convince the BF to drop $1000 on plane tickets for me. I did try though. lol

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  34. I was thinking about this the other day - when I did RNR PDX there were issues with being stopped for traffic (I personally was stopped 4-5 times. Too delirious to truly remember or time it). Comments were made by traffic control people that they can't block traffic for our silly little race. It had 15k runners and I'm assuming an average of $100 a head. My calculator tells me that there were 1.5 million dollar bills floating around our silly little race.

    If I'm going to pay more, I better get some great support and swag. I can pay $2 and run a 5k race with the road runners club that offers you a pat on the back at the finish.

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  35. This year I'm not doing any smaller races simply because of the fees. I'm saving my $$ to run races that are longer, like 1/2s. Typically, 5k's don't offer alot in the terms of support/schwag and to pay >$25 for 30 minutes of running is not what I want. Last year I did several fun/mud runs and they were a blast but I'm skipping them this year.

    As far as the RnR races, the Seattle RnR was the first race I ever did and yes, it was a shock how much it cost. But it was SO well organized and supported that I felt it was worth it. I run it every year and now I just sign up at the Expo for the next year's race and pay about 50% of the cost by registering early.

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  36. The most I have paid for a race is $110, it was for the Ragnar series, but those fees I can see being justified and it's really 3 races in one. They run 200 miles through multiple cities.
    They run through our city and county and last year with all the late snow they paid the county $50,000 to clear a mountain pass that is the trademark of the race. They also pay our city $5000 for the police presence and cars that are used to control traffic.

    I won't pay more than $20 for a 5k or $30 for a 10k, luckily we have quite a few small races that aren't in it for the money locally and we try to support those each year.

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  37. I bit the big one & registered for NYC, only because it's been on my "to run" list for years, I finally qualified after not getting in via lottery, and It'll be my 50th b-day "gift" to myself(and I'm worth it!). The registration fee is insane + the added travel/lodging/necessaties, will make this venture shrink my savings.
    I have had to cut down on local races & sacrifice in other areas, because it's what I love to do.

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  38. Another tip to save money is to skip the road races and hit the trail races. I'm in the DC/Northern Virginia area, and the trail races are much cheaper than the popular road races.

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  39. Since I started running this year - it is hard for me to gauge. I usually run with NYRR (the organization that puts on the NYC Marathon). Usually their halves are $25.00 now their halves are $45.00 early registration (huge hike for a year). I don't know what is going on - but def need to budget for it.

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  40. If we lived in the US I would never be able to afford races. Down here a 10K is around $1USD to $20USD and I'm pretty shocked at the $20USD ones. Triathlons are getting pricey also. The last sprint I did was around $40USD but I see a new one going for $65USDish and there is No Way I'm paying that much. There is an Oly at the end of the year for around $45USD but that seems really high and I just don't know. Most expensive was about $100USD for a HIM. That was a big expense.

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  41. I used to do 5Ks but at $25 (at least) per race, it is too pricey for a 3-mile experience. I can have that experience myself.
    There's a half marathon about 3 hours from where I live. Early registration is usually around $30ish and on-site registration is less than $80. I make it a point to run that because it isn't expensive and the proceeds go to a children's home in that town.

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  42. $120 for RnR in Phoenix, 2011.
    $420 for Ozark Adventure Race in Springfield, MO (team event), 2010.
    $225 for Ironman 70.3 in Branson, MO, this coming September.

    But I'll only pay around $50 to run the Bass Pro Half Marathon in November. And I get to wear a really cool, giant bass medal to embarrass my kids.

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  43. WOW, I am fairly new to running so I am still figuring out race fees. I signed up for the Seattle RnR the day registration opened, so it was $80 plus fees. That was a lot to me. My first 1/2 was I think $65 but then they ran a "groupon" type deal and gave me a partial refund of $30. That was definitely worth it. The thing that annoys me is that I pay a lot for races and get crappy shirts, I wish more races gave you the option of paying less to not take the shirt. Currently considering a 1/2 that is only $30 if you don't take a shirt but something like $60 if you do. Racing is definitely expensive, especially when runners are already shelling out for shoes, clothes, gadgets, childcare, massage/PT/other appts, etc . . . . Whew!

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  44. It's been a bucket list dream to run all the Disney races in one calendar year. I had decided 2012 would be the year and shelled out $1300 last summer for entry fees to Goofy, Tinkerbell and the Princess half for my husband and I. That was just the entry fees-not including airline tickets, resort stays, park tickets, etc. Got pregnant in Sept and managed to push myself through Goofy and Tinkerbell, but had to sit the Princess out due to hitting my preggo wall. I def. won't be able to do the Expedition Everest, Disneyland Half or Wine and Dine.

    New dilemma: do I shell out this crazy amount again in the future and try to hit my goal after all? Or do I call it a wash, cut my monetary losses and say the goal was half accomplished? Sigh. It stinks when cost is such a consideration. I have about 6 different local races I want to do this late summer/fall after the baby is born, but they will really add up. I guess my co-workers spend their money at the bar, and we spend it on races!

    PS-I also agree that the swag bags are pathetic. I love the local Mermaid races because the shirts are decent and wearable and the bags are REALLY nice canvas that I use again and again. I hate unisex shirts (why ask our sex and size ahead of time if not using that information??), and the postcards are useless.

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    1. You need to complete your goal. Never give up! I have faith in you.

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  45. Yes, race fees have gone in the past few years but I really do enjoy them. So, I try to limit myself to around 3-4 a year. Every year I run the local Two Cities half marathon in Fresno, CA. For $65 (early bird registration) you really get your moneys worth. They give you a technical shirt, finisher's sweatshirt, and breakfast after the race. It's great.

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  46. Wait until you pay to do an Ironman - all other races will feel like a bargain from that point forward (-:

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    1. Yeah, I am kinda dreading that registration fee when the day comes. Need to pull the trigger after a couple of beers for sure.

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  47. The Goofy Challenge has been my most expensive to date. However, I am running RnR Chicago Half this year, and even signing up on January 1st ("special discount"), still put the race over $100. The other 3 races I am running this year are close to home and between $50-$65.
    Oh, when I ran Goofy, I spent $1300- air fare, hotel, and races (packed my own food/water, flew in Friday, ran Sat. & Sun., flew home Sun. afternoon). $1300 for 2 1/2 days.

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  48. As a mainly half-marathoner, I can usually register early and find races in the $65-80 range. Cheapest ever: $50. I registered for that sucker almost a full year in advance. Most expensive: my first marathon (taking place this fall) at $100, which is pretty cheap for marathons in SoCal.

    My husband just registered (yesterday!) for his first Half Ironman. $300. Then in the same day he got fitted for new running shoes. Yesterday was an expensive day.

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  49. I've decided that after the Denver Rock n Roll marathon this fall that I'm done with entering organized events. After that, if I want to run a marathon, I'll just put on my running shoes, fill up my water bottle and run 26 miles for free. I'll then save the $250 entry fee for something I can't do for free.

    Dana Roueche

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  50. I hear you on the race fees. I got into NYC as well, and they had charged my credit card before I even agreed to run the race! My husband is not happy about the cost of my running habit, but I remind him it could be drugs or alcohol!

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    Replies
    1. if you put in for the lottery that is saying you agreed to run the race. you dont enter a lottery for a marathon and then get a choice on whether or not to be charged. at least not in NYC or Houston.

      Delete
  51. So the upside of being as slow as I am at the moment is saving myself $347. I might buy myself an extra coffee today.

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  52. So true. I chafe at the high cost of races, simply because I remember how much less it used to cost.
    The libertarian in me believes it's silly for my fellow ultrarunners to take offense at the high price of the JFK 50 miler. It's supply and demand. Enough people are willing and able to pay to run it, so clearly the market is working fine.

    I can afford to run the ones I want to run. And of course one can choose smaller, less prominent and cheaper races.

    But the running purist in me finds the "races as a business" kind of depressing. It's no longer (really) about the spirit of the race, but about crowding the courses with bodies so you make a profit.

    Running has always been one of the most egalitarian sports - all you really need is a pair of running shoes, not a bunch of fancy equipment. But what about the folks who can't afford even the less expensive races? It's kind of a shame to think that those with little money get shut out before registration even opens. Races are often what motivate a recreational "jogger" to get deeper into the sport of running, shooting for that next better time.

    Something to think about in this age of sedentary living, obesity, heart disease, etc.

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  53. So my most expensive race was last year. My Canada Ironman entry fee was 1100.00. This was a community slot, granted the actual fee is about 700.00. The total cost for me after itemizing everything from airfare to hotels to house rental to training and buying a news bike etc...... was about 14,000. No MISPRINT... But you really did not think about this figure crossing that FINISH LINE!!!!!!

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  54. I have been racing for only 2 yrs and so far the most I've paid is $85 for a half (RnR USA and Philly Half) - it helped to register early! I live in the Boston area and I'm lucky that there are a bunch of great local races of all distances at reasonable prices. I will bite the bullet at some point and run a Disney race.

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  55. Here's my tips:

    Groupons (someone already mentioned it but it's a great deal if you can get it).

    I ran Colfax this year and Steamboat and they both accept transfers. I checked Craigslist and got a bib for $50 each. Total steal. They were not the only ones on there, unfortunately, someone is always having a family emergency, injury, traveling, etc.

    Race within driving distance.

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  56. I think its funny my mom introduced me to running because its a "cheap" sport. Yes, in high school it's relatively cheap in terms of athletic fees, but in the real world it's expensive! This year I've registered for Dopey in Disney, DL Half, and a handfull of 5 and 10Ks and am well over $600. It adds up fast!

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  57. I switched to trail running a few years ago and it was the best thing that ever happened to my wallet. :) Most 50K's that I run are below $60 and that includes awesome aid stations with full smorgasbord, tech tee's and lots better scenery. I recently ran one that was $35. I've never looked back to road racing!

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  58. I recently started a new job that offers a "Wellness Reimbursement" benefit. OMG. Best.Thing.Ever!

    They pay 50% of my husband and my race fees up to a certain amount every year. I'm not even 6 months in and already just about ready to cap!

    Most expensive registration was my husband's "Goofy Challenge" - though that might not count for the price gouging category, since it is essentially 2 races, 3 medals, 3 t-shirts, etc....

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  59. I (almost) always sign up for the early bird rate so it's cheaper. Not the case for big races, I know but the local ones at least. Active also sends coupon codes I seen recently. I received one for a race in April 2013! Ha! I'm thinking about it though. Put's a half under $50 - not bad.

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  60. I recently paid $175 to run a 3 day trail race in West Virginia that covers about 95 miles. That works out to $1.85/mile. I paid $140 for the R'n'R Las Vegas marathon: $5.34/mile.

    There's a dormitory-style building near where the race is held in WV that you can stay in for $10/night or you can camp in your tent there for free.
    Las Vegas, hotel, airfare, etc.
    Simplicity, gotta love it!!!

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  61. It makes me SO mad to see races getting so expensive... It used to be that running was a sport that is truly accessible to everyone, all you needed was a pair of running shoes. Now - I spend SO much every year paying for races, travel to races, etc. It's terrible - and I've not entered races because it was just too expensive. I think it's sad that people can't participate in our sport because of the unnecessarily high cost.

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  62. I don't run enough races to really feel the pinch, but just signed up for the Run for Your Life Zombie 5K. Cannot believe that I shelled out $75, but seriously. There are zombies. I'm doing it with a group of friends, and I'm not actually counting it as a "race" since you're running around avoiding Zombies and thus, the course may range from 5K to 10K... I consider this to be a social event instead...

    Totally agree about Wine Country, too - not only is it getting pricy, but MUCH more crowded (in Solvang), and truly some of the weirdest medals ever.

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  63. i have been part of 5 or 6 convos this week (and countless others)about the prices of races. i so SO SOOO wanna do NYC mara. I cant. the cost is prohibitive. OF course the cost of travel is also big too. But it sucks the cost of a "big" race, is discouraging. And, anything that is popular means paying up. Sad. I feel stuck at home this year ...but honestly, i need to find the FUN in that. Also i volunteer for lots of races to get discounts or free entry. One has to be choosy in selecting races. that's a pity!

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  64. You know I'm going to give you the "when I was a kid" response here...I've been racing since 1998 and I think the price increases are obscene! I pretty much have written off the big events and this is part of the reason. I like to race, not have an "experience." So I much prefer the smaller, easier to coordinate races that have reasonable fees. I think the RnR events should be blown off the planet, quite frankly!

    Hmmm, I think I have strong feelings on this.

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  65. I think registration fees are totally out of hand. And don't even get me started on triathlon....$130 for a sprint? That's the same(ish) race time as a 10K. Would I pay $130 for a 10K? Hell no.

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  66. I agree. Part of the reason I'd rather do the trail run races, that and the scenery is usually better! :) Granted they aren't as big of races and I don't think the swag is as good (I can't say from experience since I haven't run a road race), but they are usually run by volunteers and fun is had by all afterwards with a meal, beer, swim, etc.
    For example, I'm looking at doing a trail marathon later this season with a race fee is $75. Race t-shirt and a meal included. That's acceptable in my books!

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  67. this is why I'm really glad my company pays my race fees :-)

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  68. I agree, I'm spending way too much on entry fees! With that said, I am running NYC this year. I just had to go for the once in a lifetime race and got guaranteed entry for the last time possible for me since they are making the times much harder going forward.

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  69. Doing the BTC this week- but since we are staying in hotels I figure the fee is about $1200 each.

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  70. The most I've paid so far has been $75, but there are still plenty of good runs in my area for $20 or $25 - not just 5K's, either. I really like it when a run is for charity (although you won't catch me doing another Race for the Cure, sorry). The last $75 half I did included a really nice Nike Dri-Fit women's tee shirt. So that made me feel a bit better!

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  71. This year's Chicago Marathon, my first 'thon, is the most pricey that I've signed up for. Actually, Ragnar was maybe more pricey when you throw in the added costs involved (ie: van, food, etc). Still, I'm doing enough smaller races that are more affordable that I'm not quite ready to stop signing up!

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  74. Okay, I realize I'm a couple years late to comment...I did the same thing this year for the NYC marathon and stopped in my tracks when I saw the price tag...hence ended up googling "expensive marathons" and your post came up.

    I just wanted to note that those "swag bags" cost the organizations almost no money. Companies actually PAY the race, in order to give away their product for free in the swag bag. Crazy huh?

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  75. I am a President/Race Director for a non-profit running club in a small area and try really hard to keep the price down and the caliber of our races way up. I do believe that prices on races have gotten out of hand. Part of the reason is the participants themselves who expect tons of race swag or frequent gimmicky races- and will forgo a awesome local race so they can go to a Zombie run or a color run (both really stupid in my opinion). The smaller your event is the harder it is to provide that swag because it cost small events more per piece. It is really hard for me to compete, so I work my butt off promoting/cajoling to have a little extra money after all the expenses are paid to give to other charities (kids sports) and back into our running club. In order to even do that, I need to obtain a bunch of financial sponsors. One small race takes about 4 months to put on. I guess what I am saying, is support the local races and when they do a good job please invite your friends and family to participate, it makes all the differences in the bottom line.

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  76. To the club President/Race Director whose reply is just above mine, why are you offering swag at your events and then bitching about the expense? Drop the swag and drop the donations and you'll have economical races again.

    My own club (mcrrc.org) offers inexpensive races ($20 HM to $35 50K) but we also offer premium races that are more expensive for people who want that. Yes, the premium races are significantly better attended. So what? We still offer bargain quality races for people who want them.

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  77. The irony of this blog is that it's called "Shut Up and Run," yet all that's done here is nothing more than whining. Maybe it's time the author just "Shut Up and Run?"

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