I've long had a suspicion that race fees have been on the rise, but never took the time to verify. With my renewed interest in the subject I decided look back and see if I wasn't imagining things. I'm one of those people that track everything in Quicken, so it wasn't going to be too difficult.
First, I ran a quick report and found these entry fees from a few years ago:
|Jul 2007||Red Cross 5k||$15|
|Sep 2007||Senator Stampede 5k||$15|
|Jan 2008||Polar Bear 5k||$15|
|Feb 2008||Resurrection Runs||$15|
|Mar 2008||Founder's Day 5k||$20|
|Apr 2009||Wright Flyers 5k||$15|
|May 2008||CityFest 5k||$18|
|May 2008||Pancake Run For Missions 5k||$12|
|Nov 2008||Turkey Burner 5k||$18|
Keep in mind that I likely signed up for each of these races during the early registration period. I don't have anything to refer back to, but I probably saved a few dollars per race doing this.
Next, I started looking at more recent races. Since my training schedule has kept me from running in many smaller races, I wasn't able to find everything in Quicken. So, I scoured Active.com and our local running club's website for early registration fees.
|Oct 2010||Chili Trot 5k||$18|
|Nov 2010||Turkey Burner 5k||$18|
|Feb 2011||Polar Bear 5k||$16|
|Feb 2011||Run for the Kids 5k||$20|
|Feb 2011||Trinity Run the Race 5k||$25|
|Mar 2011||Resurrection Runs||$17|
|Mar 2011||Centerpoint 5k||$15|
|Apr 2011||Wright Flyers 5k||$21|
I tried my best to find the same races to compare against each other, but had to make due with just a few. What I discovered was a bit of a surprise. For the most part the fee hikes were either non-existent or modest. Sure, there were a couple of standouts like Wright Flyers jumping $6 (yes, that's the early registration fee) and Trinity charging $25, but other than that prices are still comparable.
So, what's lead me to believe that race fees have jumped significantly? I have a few theories.
- The economy. Maybe money's just tighter and every dollar counts more now than it did a couple of years ago.
- I procrastinate more. When I first started racing I would sign up for events well in advance. They would server as carrots for my training, so I was really good about being on the ball. These days I'm more likely to make up my mind much later in the game and miss the reduced fee deadline.
- I don't enter as many small races now as I did a couple of years ago. Fees for half marathons and marathons are understandably higher, so perhaps that's skewed my perception.
- The Seaside Half Marathon. I hate to pick on an individual race, but the organizers of this one have made it an easy target. I ran this race in 2009 and gladly shucked out the $55 to enter. This year when a friend mentioned doing it again this March I balked at the $90 price tag. And that's for the early registration. After December 17th they hiked it up to $115. I sure hope whoever goes really, really likes their hallmark Vera Bradley bag!
- Schwag bags and race amenities have gone south. When I first started racing organizers seemed to put quite a bit of effort into their goody bags and refreshments. I remember coming home and dumping out all kinds of things on the kitchen counter. These days you're more likely to get a bag with a few flyers in it.
Whether I'm right or wrong, I will say that race fees don't seem to be affecting the number of participants at races. That Seaside Half? Yeah, it sold out long ago. And just a couple of weeks ago a local 5k, Cruising the Creekwalk, had over 400 finishers, which is an outstanding turnout for our area.
Have you noticed a rise in race fees the last few years? Can you think of any exorbitant offenders? Have you opted out of a race because of costs? Let me know in the comments.