There were a lot of negative comments on Twitter on the cost of races following the price increase for the Virgin Sports Hackney Half Marathon now costing £58. Cries of “Too expensive”, and “Rip off” were being thrown around so thought I would weigh in with my experience.
For a hobby that only requires some basic clothes and running shoes, running races can be an expensive business. It’s also a growing market with more and more races available, to part the runner with their cash.
My most expensive race entry was for a Race I knew very quickly that I wouldn’t attend. I had entered the London Marathon ballot and was so convinced that I was not going to get in, and not wanting to waste training, I entered the Brighton Marathon for the sum of £70 in 2013. Yes £70. That is a huge sum of money, and I felt slightly stupid for parting with so much cash.
It wasn’t helped by the face that the London Marathon, one of the greatest races in the world costs only £35. This is the biggest argument against high race costs and it is wheeled out every time a race becomes too expensive. But, and there is a big “but”, it costs £35 IF you get in, which in the ballot process could be 30-40 rejections to every successful applicant.
Races have costs and the longer the race the more costs are associated with putting on the event. Costs such as a Road Closures, Medically support, as well the materials needed for medals, shirts, goody bags etc.
The expensive race (that I took part in) was the British 10k (£50). Now this is an event that is universally hated, it’s reviews are appalling year on year. Bad Organisation, High costs mar the British 10k and to make things worse it has a Sibling Super Model in the Bupa 10,000 (now renamed and only £28). An event which universally gains praise.
I knew the British 10k reviews when I entered. But I justified the £50 fee beause it came with 2 technical running tops, and a free photo for download. I have used those running tops hundreds of times to the point where the logos are no longer visible. It was a poor event and I wouldn’t do it again, but conversely I felt I did get good value for money. And here lies the problem, there is a huge amount of people who would pay £50 for an event if they wanted to.
Running is still a cheap sport when compared to Cycling, or Triathlons.
There is also a split in the running community in regards to “optional extras” such as a medals and shirts, there are those who prefer a purer form, no medals no shirts or paying extra for those items. But I would rather pay an inclusive price of say £30 with a medal than £25 + £5 medal. I’ll be honest, if there wasn’t a medal I probably wouldn’t do the event. I am never going to win a race, or get an age-graded victory; to me only a medal or shirt will do.
I recently entered the ballot for the Royal Parks Half which at just shy of £60 is twice the cost of my alternative race the Perkins Great Eastern Run in Peterborough. For £30 you get a good medal, decent goody bag, technical shirt and a canvas shopper bag. Ultimately even if I get into the Royal Parks I might still decline the place as it’s a difficult to justify the cost. Yes running in London would be special, but twice the cost? really??
For those interested, as a rough guide you can expect to pay up to £30 for a 10k race, and up to £40-50 for a Half Marathon.
As you are here, I would love to hear your comments.