Race day is one of my favorite days of the year. I love the expo, the adrenaline on race morning, the crowds, and the chance to put my will to the test and see what I’m made of. These are arguably all things that you cannot get while running the same distance on your own (although a group track workout may *almost* simulate the last one).
One thing I don’t like about races is the price. Lately it seems that race registrations have gone up. Half marathons (correct me if I’m wrong) used to be in the $55-75 range and marathons in the $65-95. Now a half is $90-100 (if you’re running RnR even higher) and fulls are $100-120. 5ks are usually $30-40. It’s hard for me to fork over money to run a race that lasts less time than it takes to drive there. The worst of all races is the Rock n Roll series which charge $110-$165 for the half and $125-175 for the full (based on 2013 San Diego RnR prices)! The only benefit I see to doing a RnR series race is the music along the course but let’s be honest when you’re hitting the wall at mile 20 the last thing you want is a rock band blaring in your ear.
To put it perspective, I plan to run 3 half marathons, a 15k, and a marathon this year. I may throw in a 10k Turkey Trot. At $90/half, $110/full, $65/15k and $40 for the 10k, that’s $485 in race registrations before including processing fees. Although, now that I added that up, it seems like nothing in comparison to the $600 Ironman entry fee that about 25% of people lose by getting injured or changing plans before the race (most races do not offer refunds and Ironman is one of them). Last year’s races cost me over $1300 (full marathon, two half marathons, half Ironman, Full Ironman). And of course, there are way more costs associated with racing than just the entry fee (see my post on how much it cost me to train for a full Ironman here).
The major races in the most desirable cities charge the most. While researching this topic I found an interesting article that confirmed my suspicions – race prices have gone up. For example, here’s a look at how race fees have increased for some of the most popular races since 2008:
Graph thanks to stridenation.com
If you’re into math, the NY marathon price has gone up 62% over 5 years. That definitely beats inflation.
What’s Included in Your Race Fee
In case you’re curious, your race fee for a running race pays for the following:
- Bib, timing chip (and online race results), t-shirt, food and water
- Race event staff (although most people you will encounter are volunteers)
- Porto-Potty rental
- Insurance (a big one!)
- Police department staffing
- City permits
- Buses to/from start and finish, if necessary
- Prizes for winners and age group finishers
- More that I don’t even know about I’m sure!
Of course, you get more than just the race day and all of the above for that fee. Signing up for a race provides motivation for workouts for months as well as camaraderie if you join a running group or train with friends. Clearly, I think it’s worth it because I continue to sign up for races. However, I don’t race that often (March will be a first with two races but May-July I’m race-free for now). I see some bloggers/twitter friends who race monthly or even twice a month. I’m sure some of them receive sponsored entries but at the end of the day, it all adds up, from the training fuel (gels, bars, etc) to the running shoes to the transportation costs to get to the expo and race day, hotel and flights if its a destination race.
In the end, most fitness endeavors cost money. CrossFit, Dailey Method, triathlon, a fancy gym membership, snowboarding, golfing (possibly the only sport more expensive than triathlon) – it all adds up! But I’m sure the reduction in lifetime healthcare costs will make it all even out in the end (or the savings from fewer nights out). And if not, at least you had fun right!?
What is the most you’ve paid for a running race? What is the most you are willing to pay? How often do you race? Does cost even play a part in which races you choose?