Race Fees: My Race Price Cap

As you can probably tell, I love a good race medal, I could easily and happily run one every weekend but I am not made of money.

Sometimes my friends do races,  I’m immediately tempted to sign up and then I see the price. E.g. “just £50” for the British 10km. No matter how good the t-shirt, organisation and goody bag, it put me off. I just don’t have the pounds to be splashing out on a £50 on 10km. Not when I can do a fab one for under £20  and not have to spend on travel either.

To save myself some money I decided to set my self a race price cap based on a price per mile I’m willing to pay. This makes it easy for me to give a yay or nay to races without thinking and worrying about it too much. If it’s too pricey, it’s off the list.

I was really interested in The Royal Parks Half and Ultra but again the steep entry fees put me off. As much as the route is amazing, I could grab my friends and do it any time. Sometimes it’s a tricky decision, I had my head turned by the upcoming Gloanna race which offers Sushi, yoga and prosecco at the finish. But now I have this cap it makes decision making easier. I also wonder why it’s so expensive when I know Freixenet are sponsoring the event and therefore they won’t have paid for the prosecco. I suspect the same will be for the Sushi. As a marketing manager I know a lot of it is hype and marketing, they are profitable businesses after all. Don’t become the marketing man’s dream and fall for all the sparkle and bling! NB: There is nothing wrong with them being a profit making business with a marketing department. I’m just raising the point. If I could organise races for a living I would.
Price per kmIt’s not as simple as just a calculation, I have a few other caveats which are below. To start my calculation I analysed the races I had run/will run and assessed them based on enjoyment, what was included and the price per km.

The cap: £1.90 per km

What does that mean in reality?

  • 10km = £19 The keen eyed among you will notice I have broken that. The race was actually free, I donated £20 to British Heart Foundation who organise it.
  • 1/2 marathon = £40.28
  • Marathon = £80.18

The caveats:

  1. I have not and will not pay for a 5k race. I can do parkrun for free every Saturday and still work my way up to a free t-shirt. For me, personally, paying for a 5k race is a waste of money. I run 5km regularily and it’s not a challenge, I don’t need a medal. But what about the social side I hear you cry, if I really want to be there to be with friends I will support or volunteer.
  2. My Marathon cap is really £60 which is one of the reasons I removed my name from the NYC ballot. If it’s one of the big ones I might break it but I’m looking forward to finding small interesting marathons in the UK.
  3. I round the decimal places down.

There are some great bargain local races out there, you just need to find them. Being part of a club, active on twitter and friends with runners helps me find out about these races. One I recently entered is The Wimbledon Trail Run series: 3 midweek races, £8 each, buy 2 get the third one free – I’ll write a report once I’ve done it. But what’s not to love!

Other Opinions

If you are interested about costs of races then please also read these great posts

How much does a marathon really cost?

Would you pay £50 for a 10km?

Keeping the cost of running down

How do you decide whether to enter a race or not?

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14 comments

  1. Laura says:

    Great post Steph! I totally agree that a lot more thought than just “do it to get another medal to add to the collection” needs to be undertaken when entering a race. While I haven’t put a price on mine yet, I do ask myself if I will a) enjoy the event (as for me running is about being in the moment and enjoying the whole thing not just the finish) and b) be challenged.

    For example, the Bacchus half marathon continues to challenge me in drinking 7 different types of wine during a 13.1 mile race. I expect this to be a challenge for the rest of my life 🙂

  2. Leah says:

    I love all the spreadsheets in this, it excites me no end (heads off to google docs to create similar).

    This is great that you work out your cost per mile and you set yourself a limit. I probably need to do that more!! However – I have paid for 5k races, but only charity ones (Mo Run, Race for Life, Snowsports Disability) and really enjoyed these. I don’t mind paying if I know the money is going to a good cause.

    In defence of Royal Parks Half, it is the penultimate London half marathon and is an amazing course. The opportunity to run those closed roads, in that kind of atmosphere, is something I would absolutely pay for – let alone the great medal and technical tee from Crewroom. I don’t regret the £50 it cost me one bit because I enjoyed it SO much. But £50 for Run to the Beat, or Run Hackney, or a 10k? Not sure about that.

    My rule this year was “more bling for my buck” – meaning, I wanted to diversify from the big expensive races and run smaller, new races, more often. I don’t want to repeat races I have done before – which is why I sadly passed up registering for Brighton Half 2015. LOVED it this year, but now I can do Bacchus instead!

    Finally, I LOVE the look of the trail series, might be joining you on that one! xx

    • Stephanie says:

      Thanks Leah, I’m such a nerd. I kind of wanted my head to rule my decisions so I didn’t ever look back over my bank balance with regret. I agree with you about the charity 5ks, I’d be interested to know how much they raise from those events. I think that it is great there are 5k races out there and great that people run them and are encouraged to run, it’s just a personal thing to help my bank balance 😉

      What do you mean that is is ‘the penultimate London half’ are there no more London halfs after this but one? Again I agree with you it does sound great and the atmosphere is something that wouldn’t be there if I just ran the route but I have to accept that with a cap I will miss out on some potentially great races.

      Great motto! So glad you can do Bacchus, I look forward to seeing you there! Bring on the cheap races! xx

      • Leah says:

        Sorry, meant “ultimate” but was typing too fast & must have auto corrected haha! By that I mean that it’s the only half in central London that circuits the sights of the city – hence why it’s SO hard to get in each year! Quite glad the choice was taken out of my hands thanks to a ballot this year 🙂

  3. Sarah says:

    I really like this post Steph! I’ve long since thought that races are becoming a bit of an overpriced circus, especially some of the biggest ones, where they’re so crowded it’s impossible to get a decent run in anyway. I will pay plenty for, say, a marathon, where 26.2 miles of road need closing and all the support I’d like needs paying for, but over £20 for a half marathon seems pretty steep to me- some of my favourite halves and 10Ks have been local club races, which are super fast, friendly and cheap, as well as having more interesting souvenirs- who needs another white tshirt when you could have a mug instead?

  4. Lissy says:

    I think it depends what you like. I like the big field, city centre races (like Brighton, Royal Parks etc) so am willing to pay for it. BUT only if they are well organised (which both of these are).

    I ran the British 10k last year (on a corporate place, so for free) and even that was not worth it. Awful, disorganised. Charging people £50 is an absolute insult!

  5. Andy Bickerstaff says:

    The old days of races for runners appear to have all but gone. We used to rock up pay a couple of quid and run the race, much like fell races still are or if you are a member of a club the winter cross country leagues which tend to be free. Do you guys do the race for the medal or is a mug just as good or just for the fun of the competition? All these things about a race cost of course, the race organisers can’t do it for free….. unless they are parkrun but they have big sponsorship and advertising to pay the employees.

    • Stephanie says:

      Funnily enough Andy I’m just reading Feet In the Clouds, and the fell races are really appealing to me! My club runs a series of races called MABAC, which cost me nothing and I love participating, there’s nothing at the end except our camaraderie, lovely!

      I race just for the competition and sometimes (such as yours) just as a new route training run.
      As much as I love a good medal, I’d rather a mug than a generic medal with nothing to show what race it was. I’ve never had a mug before. Might be interesting to run home with! However I do know some people who would be put off by a mug.

      I completely agree with you, I would never expect a race to be free. I am happy to pay, I just like a good bargain and my budget doesn’t stretch to some of the bigguns.

      Thanks for reading. On Wednesday I have a post from a race organiser explaining where the money goes.

  6. Will says:

    It’s funny how a few months experience wises you up on these things. The first race (other than ParkRuns) I did was the British 10k last July. As said above I now realise £50 for a 10k is pretty ridiculous – especially as some of the organisation was poor (although there was lots of water at least).

    I have since done three half marathons and a Tough Mudder of varying prices but probably getting a bit carried away have booked for some more of varying prices. Hackney and Royal Parks are both around £40 but I think there just seems to be a London cost – although I live in London so that off-sets it I suppose against those who would have to pay more travelling or staying here.

    Interesting post though and will probably apply more and more scrutiny as my experience grows of what to expect for your pound.

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