A Loan for a Car and a Marathon Entry!


Marathon Entry Fees are Skyrocketing


What is up with Marathon entry fees?  Get to your bank right away and take out a loan!  Don’t we go through enough pain training?  I ran my first marathon, Los Angeles, in 1989, and it was about $35 to enter.  In 1991, I ran my first NYC Marathon and though still a lottery to get in, the entry fee was around $45.  I’ve run a marathon in all 50 states (finished in October of 2006) and at that time it was extremely rare to exceed $100 entry fee for any marathon, with the exception of Boston.  Now, it’s almost impossible to find the entry fee under $100 for any large marathon.

By way of background, I’m a business person and certainly understand the costs incurred to put on a marathon.  I’m also thankful for those that take on that challenging task because without them, there would be no marathons to run. Being a runner, when I choose a marathon and  pay my entry fee, I expect to show up to a well-organized, well-supplied, and hassle-free race. We already have enough to worry about as we anticipate and ultimately plow through our 26.2 miles.  Fortunately, out of my 87 marathons, I can only remember maybe two or three that had any sort of issue.  That’s a pretty good track record.

It seems the controversy today is the steep 24% increase in the entry fee for NYC, now at a staggering $255.  Organizers say it’s due to police costs.  (See Article).  Another group, the Rock N’ Roll series, charges a minimum of $100 if you sign up early, but for most people it ends up costing about $140 for their marathon, and if you are doing a half-marathon, plan on paying north of $80. Crazy!  The Competitor Group, owner of the Rock N’ Roll Series, has been buying existing marathons, and starting new marathons in cities across the United States.  They’ve even gone international.  All this expansion hasn’t been without problems.. point in case – 2011 Las Vegas.  All-in-all though, most Rock N’ Roll marathons are well-run and a very pleasurable experience.

Given the fact that you need to add in costs for airfare, hotel, food, and swag (optional), you really do need to take out a loan to take part in the larger marathons.  I guess with the popularity of running and marathons today, it was just a matter of time before the corporate influence took over in some capacity, giving it a chain restaurant feel.  And to be realistic, don’t expect the entry fees to ever come back down.

That brings me to my point today.  If you are a serious runner, you absolutely NEED to experience the New York City Marathon, but in my opinion, once is enough.  Pay the fee and enjoy!  However, in my mind, the real marathon experience is that of a nice local race.  Sure, you don’t have the crowds of a New York, Chicago, Marine Corp or Boston marathon, but you have the absolute heart and soul of the community that provides an enriching, rewarding, and memorable experience.  The upside, there are a ton of them all across the country, and entry fees are usually very affordable.  For a comprehensive list of marathons, check out Marathonguide.com.

One of my favorite inexpensive marathons is the “Running the Gap” Pocatello, Idaho, Marathon.  This marathon is usually held in early September.  If you sign up early, you can get in for $50, regular fee right now is only $65.  It’s a beautiful course and extremely well-run.  For your money, you get a very nice technical shirt, duffle bag and, yes, a sack of Idaho potatoes.  Also, the finisher medal is awesome.  Fly into Salt Lake City, and take the beautiful 180 mile drive north.  Even the hotels are inexpensive.  All around, it’s a great deal and, at this point of my running career, I prefer local marathons like Pocatello.  Pocatello is just an example, but my point is to bring attention and focus to the locally run marathons. Kind of like supporting local coffee shops, retail or book stores!

For me, now and in the future, I will support the little races.  I love them. You will too!  And that’s my marathon speech for today’s blog and I’m sticking to it!  Happy Running!

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Categories: Crazy Observations, Running Related, Twitter
  • jim honiotes says:
    February 23, 2012 8:41 PM

    Isn’t it funny and ironic that you suggest a bank loan and the NYC marathon is actually sponsored by a bank??

  • Gabrielle says:
    February 23, 2012 11:16 PM

    I like the races put on by Mammoth Marathons. Small family business, great locations, very affordable– Under $60 for the Grand Valley marathon in beautiful Palisade, Colorado (I ran it last year) if you register before April 27, 2012.

  • Chris Bielinski says:
    February 24, 2012 9:12 AM

    I could not agree more! So many runners have Boston, New York, Marine Corp or Chicago dreams and never even try the smaller ones. The bigger the marathon the more crowds and logistics issues (last year in Chicago runners had to climb over fences before eventually knocking them over to get in their correct starting corral). My theory: I run the big ones for the experience and the small ones for a better time.

  • RM says:
    February 24, 2012 9:27 AM

    If you think the marathon entries are a lot, just be glad you aren’t doing Ironmans. $650 now for most of the “Ironman” races, and then you have the flight, cost to fly the bike, hotel stay for 4-5 nights, and all the rest of the things you need throughout the year. The sport wasn’t built by the wealthy, but now it really is pricing out those of us who don’t have $150k jobs.

    NYC Marathon is the best though, and agreed – races like Chicago, NYC, Boston: go and enjoy them!

  • February 24, 2012 12:48 PM

    Thank you for the tips. The price seems to be rising here in The Netherlands/ Europe too. I love the medals (its the child in me!) and you even have to pay for them now. HOWEVER – some are run at great risk. For example a several half marathons were cancelled 2010/2011 due to the snow!
    Look forward to reading more.

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