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Saturday, March 4, 2017

What cost a marathon?

The other day I saw a post on Facebook about a half marathon in nearby Bay St. Louis. I was interested, because the race would allow me to stay at my in law's, and I haven't actually raced a half marathon in over a year. A quick glance at the Facebook page illustrated how small-town this race was: tough course, open to traffic, the sign-up link was broken, the url for the race was being offered for sale by GoDaddy, and the date of the race was posted differently in several places. So kind of a mess - that must mean cheap, right?

Well, it was $70!
That's not cheap to me - especially not when I might show up on the wrong day. I really can't believe how expensive some of these races are these days!

Take marathons, for example. The big ones are well over $200, and you can be assured that you'll never get a discount on them. The cheapest marathon I've run is the Mississippi Gulf Coast at $35, but the Rock N Roll New Orleans fee is just $59 if you sign up early. That's not bad at all.

Half marathons can be less of a value. I was appalled that the Louisiana Marathon half is now $140 at the expo. One hundred and forty! For a half! I don't run that many half marathons, but I remember feeling like $60 or $70 was a lot for some races. An early sign-up special got me into the Ole Man River half for $35 this year, which is an excellent deal.

I pay $25 on average for a 5k, $35 for 10ks, and I resent both of those enormously. But they're often assisting a charity, so I suck it up.

What do you pay for a marathon? A half? A 5k? What's the most you've ever spent on a race?


  1. I paid $100 for the half marathon that I DNSed this morning. With a code!

    That was one expensive tshirt. I registered back in January too, so it's not like I signed up last week or something. I hate signing up too early because you never know when something might pop up on that weekend or you might be injured, but I felt safe (whomp whomp) six weeks out. Oops. As a spectator at the race but someone who attended, I don't know that I think it was a good value, either. In fact, I didn't even get a shirt in the size I requested and that was a $100 shirt.

    That race you looked at sounds janky overall. I wouldn't care if it was $20 I wouldn't run something with broken websites, different dates, or was confusing. I'd pay $70 for a half marathon like today's, which I feel like was a $70 half marathon but NOT a $100+ half.

    For me it's all about experience. You can't compare a small marathon to say, NYC or Boston. But I want to get what I pay for.

  2. I also feel like a lot of race pricing has gotten out of hand. I have a 3 race series I do in the fall (2 10Ks + a half) that is $100 for all 3. It totally spoils me for all other races.

  3. I signed up almost a year early for a very small local marathon and paid only $25! Won't even feel too bad if I can't run it.

  4. The Twin Cities Marathon is so expensive, as you know. I want to say it's maybe $170 or something like that? The race director runs with our club and she has talked about how expensive it is to put on a big marathon, especially to hire the police force to close down the roads. It is one of the best ran marathons I've run so to some extent you get what you pay for... I rarely run 5k or 10k races because I just can't justify spending the money on a registration fee when I can go out and run it on my own, but that's not my distance so I don't really benefit from the race environment. No matter what, my time will suck. But I will pay for 10 mile or up because the race environment gives me extra motivation to run even faster!

    1. I agree - while the Twin Cities race was pricey, it was so well done that I thought it was worth it.

  5. As I recall, Chicago was pretty pricey. Honestly, I come from a background of showing horses, which is about 50x more expensive than running, so a three figure entry fee for a well run race really doesn't bug me.

    However, there are some situations where it's clearly just a rip off. In DC, we have a group called the "DC Running Club" (NOT to be confused with DC Road Runners, which is a great organization).

    The DC running club regularly organizes races on a train that is open to the public. They erect a start/finish arch, put a cone at the turnaround, and have water and donuts at the finish. And they hand out numbers and safety pins. No mile markers, no closed course, no chip timing.

    They charge ridiculous fees. This sort of casual race should be a $5 affair. But they charge $40-60. And people who are very new to running don't know any better, and pay it. It's a scam, and embarrassing for the sport.

    And...I just checked out their site now, and I see that they are soliciting "donations" including both $ and cars. Despite the fact that they are NOT a 501(c)(3)....

    1. err...."regularly organizes races on a traiL that is open to the public."

  6. Here in Colorado there are so many choices for races I have the ability to skip all those races that are $100+. I like to race, but I don't like to spend money. Last year I don't think I raced a single half that cost over $50.

  7. When I registered for Boston, it was the year it filled the day it opened, and the system kept crashing. I had to type in all my info, and hit "authorize payment" over 40 times at $140 a pop I think. I was so worried I had just charged over $5k on a single race. Fortunately, it only processed once...
    $25 for a 5k is standard here, and also usually benefiting a charity. Marathons vary largely on how early you sign up. I am signing up at RNR Dallas for next year, and I think it will be $50 plus processing (it's a half only), and I sign up for RNRSA at $60 the year before. I'm usually pretty good about registering in advance, but there are some that are so poorly organized, even the early price is too high.