"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Get off my lawn!

Complaining about the price of races makes me sound a bit like Grandpa Simpson, but I don't think people even remember what decent prices were. Here's an example.
According to the consumer price index, $8 in 1983 is comparable to $18.29 in 2012, not the $105 being charged. People have argued the increases in race fees many ways, but I have never found a race director willing to show their budget - not a single one - so I don't believe them and neither should you. Complain. Loudly.


PiccolaPineCone said...

i think i have really weird post partum hormonal stuff going on but the title of your post made me laugh until I cried and my stomach hurt BEFORE I even read the post itself.
I agree. Race fees are out of control. In Canada the increase is being driven (I think) by the Running Room which purports to bring running to the masses but really brings running to the upper middle class with its $60 5 kms (of course that $60 includes a jacket with a "value" of $80... but if no one really wanted the jacket in the first place... can it really have an $80 value???). our cheapest local races are $20 now for a 5 or 10 km which is not too unreasonable (though i'd be interested to know if you feel differently) of course to get the $20 entry fee one has to register far enough in advance that i often find myself injured or unexpectedly unavailable on race day and once one registers even once for a race that they don't attend, it negates the early bird savings for the next many races!

Get off my lawn indeed!
And while you're at it - keep it down!

Karen said...


Colin said...

I agree some event prices are out of hand, but there's no way the Twin Cities Marathon could be run today for $18 (or anywhere close to that). According to this article, in 2005 TCM paid $14 per runner to the Minneapolis Parks alone; I believe that fee has since increased significantly. The article indicates that Minneapolis Parks was initially a sponsor of the race and didn't charge a fee at all, so there's a lot more at work than just inflation. No doubt there are other fees like insurance which may not have been a factor back then.

From the same article, in 2005 the City of Lakes 25K had $22K in expenses plus paid $8,500 to close the parkways; with 709 finishers that works out to a cost of around $38 per participant (for a much more contained race 7 years ago).

There are still bargains out there -- the MDRA races are usually a good deal (Ron Daws 25K for $5 last week for instance).

I grumble as much as the next guy, but the reality is that complaining isn't going to help as long as there are willing entrants, and there are. Ironman NYC is sold out of both $895 standard and $1,500 charitable entries for their 2012 event, so it could be a lot worse ...

pensive pumpkin said...

post topic: agreed.

moving on to the funny stuff your post title made me think of.

one day several years ago some IDIOTS were lighting fireworks at the gas station near my house. FIREWORKS. GAS STATION. IDIOTS.

Chevalier went over there and told them he didn't feel like dying today just so they could get their stupid rocks off. idiot response was, and i quote: "you could die getting out of bed in the morning, old man!" this has since become a staple affectionate phrase in our house.

today is the old man's 39th birthday, so it amused me. hope it amused you too, as we are often of similar minds.

now get off my lawn. ; )

Evan Roberts said...

It would be interesting to compare the price increases of different races over the same time period (City of Lakes 25k vs TCM).

As Colin mentions, road closures are now more expensive than they used to be. More races employ people year round, compared to more prevalent volunteer model in the 1970s. But that's not the all of it. My null hypothesis is that race entry fees went up significantly in the past decade in a way they didn't in previous decades.

TCM vs Grandmas would be another interesting comparison.

TCM put prices up $10 (just under 10%) this year. One wonders why, when inflation is much less than that.

Johann said...

We have the same thing here in South Africa. Race prices are really getting out of hand and no budgets to show us why. Someone is making lots of money.

Jean said...

Yeah, prices are definitely getting up there for some of these events. But people are obviously willing to pay the price. That Monster Dash over Halloween costs darn near $70 - for a half marathon - yet they get thousands of entrants. By comparison, I am running the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon in May. Entry cost me $45, and I feel like I am stealing!

SteveQ said...

I didn't want to do a long-winded rant about this; I've been complaining since 1986 about prices.

Colin, the Mpls park board didn't charge the race in 1982. In 1983, they charged something like $40000. By 1985, they said that they were charging PER SECTION of park land, so separately for Kenwood, for Harriet, for Calhoun, for the creek parkway, for Nokomis, and for the riverfront, and charged $400000 to $450000; I said they should threaten to have the race go where the 10 Mile course does into St. Paul, avoiding all that, and say take it or leave it (they didn't, of course). The police also volunteered their time the first years, but now it's paid and weekend overtime and, if you look it's all captains and lieutenants - the highest paid (as they choose who goes).

This is becoming rant-like.

SteveQ said...

Evan, the Twin Cities Marathon started in 1982 to replace the City of Lakes Marathon, which later returned as a 25K; it's the same race!

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve, Since you don't race anymore why not start your own race? maybe a trail race of some sorts.
Idea for the race Steve Quick memorial trail run and be the RD.
I don't like the cost of races either.

Carilyn said...

Love the title, and love the rant (not that you were doing that :)

I used to do a lot of marathons as training runs, but since so many of them cost well over $100, I just make myself run fast alone :)

Evan Roberts said...

"the Twin Cities Marathon started in 1982 to replace the City of Lakes Marathon, which later returned as a 25K; it's the same race!"

I know, I might not be from round here, but I read my history :) My point, not made very well, was that comparing the price increases for the two races might help show where some of the increases are coming from. Some of it is park fees and policing, but some of it is the market power that a large well-organized marathon has over its entrants. City of Lakes 25km competes with a range of other sub-marathon distance races on that weekend, but Twin Cities competes with doing another marathon at another time, or in another place.

The proliferation of 5km races is a bad thing, but it probably does keep the prices from escalating like they have for marathons.

Alene Gone Bad said...

Which is exactly why I'm taking up making my own adventure runs. No entry fee. No portapotties, no traffic control, no tshirt, no extra fluff that I don't want or need. By the time you pay the entry fee, and do any traveling- gas, hotel, airfare, food, parking, etc. You're spending on a small vacation, or a big vacation depending on where the race is. In a time when the economy is squeezing us every which way, pretty soon the races will price themselves right out of business.

Anonymous said...

Unless I plan to win a race, I don't understand the need to show up - running has always been a pure solitary pleasure. I tried racing for 3-4 years, found out I am not very fast, always placing in top 15-20%, but no higher. I guess competition is fun, sometimes, but I would inevitably "run" into people after the race who seemed bitter that I could beat them (I don't look athletic, so it is a blow to their self esteem I guess). Factoring in high entry fees, I am sticking to the solitary run - much more pleasant and I don't have to deal with sore losers.

Matt Lutz said...

Great rant, and points in comments are well taken.

The issue with race fees is one reason why I refuse on principle to run non-ultras - it simply isn't worth it on a dollar per mile basis. My only exception is for charity-based races.

I'll guess that the 5K with the hill-complainers was somewhere in the $35 range? That's simply ridiculous.

A review of the fees I've paid recently demonstrates how ridiculous most race fees are: $175 for Zumbro 100(1.75/mile); $10(!) plus state park fee for John Dick Memorial 50K ($0.31/mile); $190 for Sawtooth 100; ~$40 for Voyageur ($0.80/mile); etc. You get the idea. When I ran Twin Cities in '07 and '08, the cost was somewhere in the $85 range. That's north of $3/mile for a shorter race with less camaraderie and cohesion.

Anonymous said...

I don't think many race directors are collecting a fortune. I think they are spending every dime on stupid frills that don't really add to the race experience (technical tshirts, websites, fancy posters, DJs, electronic chip timing, goodies, a nice goodie bag for the goodies, etc. etc.). All of my favorite races are also the lowest frill races. And guess what? They're the cheapest!

Joe Gerard