Wednesday, January 04, 2012

How much for that marathon?

How much are you willing to pay for the "experience" of a running a marathon? That question seems fair enough given that the New York City Marathon has decided to raise the entry fees beginning with the 2012 race. Race organizers stated that the reason for the increase was due to the fact that the New York Police Department will be charging the organizers for traffic control and policing costs.

Here is a list of the top 5 U.S. marathons ranked by several sites:

1. Boston Marathon                            $150 = $ 5. 73 per mile

2. New York City Marathon
- Non member of NY Road Runners $255 = $9.73 per mile
- International partcipant                   $347 = $13.24 per mile

3. Honolulu Marathon                      $260 = $9.92 per mile
(2011 price)

4. Bank of America Chicago Marathon -
U.S. participant                                $150 = $5.73 per mile
International Participant                   $175 = $6.67 per mile

5. Walt Disney World Marathon -   $160 - $6.11 per mile

Note: The prices reflected do not include travel, lodging, etc.

Now to be fair, I know that some marathons offer early registration discounts. Take for instance my local marathon, the Detroit Free Press Marathon. The entry fee this week is a mere $60 ($2.29 per mile). After this week, the price rises to $80 ($3.05 per mile) and then on a sliding scale up to $125 ($4.77 per mile).

As a veteran of 20 marathons, I understand the idea of wanting to pay for an experience. Some people say that they would rather pay for an experience than pick up another piece of useless crap ( Tablet, e-reader, etc) that will be outdated in 3 months.  I know that some people have a marathon on their bucket list, or have spent years and invested blood, sweat, and tears to get to the starting line to take their victory lap during the marathon. Some make marathons as their vacations and find it the best way to see a new city, often seeing things that are not mentioned in tour guides or would never see if you only stayed in the "tourist areas". You hope that when you pay your entry fee, your experience will be on par for what you have paid. In some instances, I have been happy with my return on investment (Boston, Chicago)  and other times left scratching my head wondering where does all the registration money go (Nashville).

With rising registration fees, how much are you willing to spend for the experience of running a marathon?


pwilson said...

The worst IMO are the Rock and Roll Marathon series. Has Nashville been taken over by Rock and Roll? My feeling is that it's a corporation taking over the races, raising the fees to astronomical levels; the money goes to huge medals, cheesy tshirts, excessive sdvertising, and their corporate profits. They took over the Philadelphia Distance Classic, which had raised money for local charities, and returned a tiny amount to charity while practically doubling the entrance fee. The only race I've ever banditted was the Las Vegas Half because it had been taken over by Rock and Roll.

I don't really have a problem with Boston, NYC, and Chicago raising their prices--part of the rise, I would think, is because so many people want to run them, so why not raise the price? I may be wrong, but I believe the extra money goes to extra costs and to benefit the charities supported by NYRR and BAA (not sure about Chicago). I just am convinced that Rock and Roll is all about corporate profits and they'll NEVER get one more cent from me (i ran a couple of their races early on before they started taking over so many local marathons and HATED the experience).

That said, many people like the huge medals and goodie bags and all the other junk that comes with Rock and Roll.

I've been paying for races for 33 years, and mostly feel like my money is being used wisely by race directors and excess is going to good causes, but I'm fortunate that I can afford to spend that money. But in the last couple of years, i've run mostly ultramarathons, and they are generally a huge bargain calculating them price per mile.

Dan said...

I'd agree that Boston is well worth the price. When you throw in the expo, pasta dinner, transportation to the start, athlete's village, & the post race party, I don't think I've had a better overall marathon experience.

Pamela McGowan said...

Running is expensive! And now that I am well into my triathlon 2nd career - I am really broke. lol!

Greg Strosaker said...

There was a great article in Running Times December's issue on the future of running, and how marathons are losing their appeal to (especially men) competitive runners as the "just finish" or "run for the experience" crowds are dominating the show - this crowd is clearly willing to pay the prices asked (and since I'm a capitalist, I can't argue with the race organizers for increasing the fees until they find the market price at which they no longer sell out). I'm becoming more turned off to the big races - while I'll do Boston again, I'm not sure I'll ever do Chicago again and my desire to run NYC is diminishing.

Maggie W said...

I'm still somewhat of a newer runner, and have yet to do my first marathon (plan to do Chicago this year mostly because I'm from here). For me, it's not just about the race itself, but the experience. If a bunch of my friends are doing a big race (Rock 'n Roll, Chicago's Shamrock Shuffle), I'd rather do that and enjoy the camaraderie than race alone. Also, as I plan for my first marathon, I like knowing that my friends and family will be able to hop on the train and come cheer me on, something that I think I'll really need for my first 26.2.

I'm sure over time my opinion might change as I become a more experienced runner/racer, especially if I start travelling for races. I have done a few smaller "homegrown" races (at the half marathon level) that have been pretty fantastic.