Cost of Events

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18/09/2010 at 20:20
Hi All,
Is it me, or are running events becoming more scarce and increasingly expensive?. When I started running events 10 years ago there was always a local 10k on every weekend which you could just turn up at and run for £6-8. Now, entry-on-the-day at your average 10k will cost at least £15 (and 10 milers and halfs are worse).

As a consequence, I hardly run at any local events now. Why should I pay the best part of £20 to run an event on public roads that I can run on anyway for nothing?. Some may say that you get a medal and goody bag, but do you know what?. I don't want a medal. I've already got a whole draw of the bloody things. I also don't want a goody bag. Half of the contents is advertising material and the rest will probably end up (one way or another) in the bin. Surely, there's enough rubbish in the world without handling out this unwanted stuff to hundreds of runners (ever heard of global warming?). Incidentally, the policy of providing whole 500ml bottles to runners at water stations is hugely wasteful, but this is getting off topic.

The next thing that gets on my wick, is higher fees for on-the-day entry. I can think of no good excuse for this. Now, I can understand that organisers would like runners to pay and register in advance. After all, probably 10% will not be able to attend for some reason so this is easy money. I also understand that if they insist on handing out the above mentioned tat then they will want to know in advance how much tat to order. So the solution?. Yeah, don't hand out the tat. Or at least, don't offer tat to those who enter on the day.

Anyway, just wondered whether anyone else feels this way or am I just being tight? (I'm not even Scottish),

Happy Running,

18/09/2010 at 20:53

Have you ever organised an event Dave?  I do and it ain't cheap.  I'm actually wondering if you are being deliberately provocative.... .  I'll answer your questions/points.

1. No, running events are becoming more common - the problem for small scale events is that there are now so many large events which attract large numbers of runnners that the smaller events struggle to survive -just finding a date which doesn't clash with another event within 40 miles on the same day is becoming increasingly difficult.  Unless you are on the far north coast of Scotland where there isn't a problem......

2. Your point about medal/goody bag - well Dave, for every one who feels as you do there is another runner who wants a decent goody bag/medal.  You don't have to take one and newer runners are encouraged by them.  Our goody bags cost us little, in return for putting the advertising blurb in the bag we get free samples to put in.  On the water issue, I agree - we use cups but TBH on a marathon/half I prefer to have a 500ml water bottle to carry with me.  Again that is my personal preference - just as yours is not to have this.

3. higher fees for OTD entry - well, we need more volunteers to handle this.  Volunteers are not easy to come by to help organise an event.  But the main reason is that we like to know how many are likely to turn up at the event so really the cheaper entry is an incentive to help us out.  We like to know roughly how many will turn up.  An extra £2 - £3 or so OTD surely isn't too much to ask (though I know pre-entries for big events can be quite a bit cheaper). But the incentive is there for you to pre-enter.

4. People these days have come to expect a certain level of slickness at events...... we want people to return year after year to our events.  And they do.  So we must be doing something right!  Hidden costs of putting on events is not always apparent.  Start/Finish gantries/banners, chip timing, toilets, donations to volunteer organisations, paying for the course measurer to come up and measure the course, PA systems, sweep vehicles, numbers/pins, trophies, tiger tape, water, t shirts, website/pre entry on line, - its endless. 

However, there are races that cost virtually nothing....... take a look at the FRA website.  Fell races happen throughout the year all over the country and generally cost £2 - £5 to enter.  There are no medals, goody bags, facilities etc. etc. They are brilliant - just running in the raw!  Its the road races that cost and while you are not alone in your opinion on cost - there are others who really enjoy the rigmarole of a full blown road event with all the trimmings (else why do we keep completely selling out well before the event dates?).

18/09/2010 at 20:58

Unfortunately the cost of setting up events is increasing and organisers have to pass that cost onto the runners.  Just one road closure can cost a lot.  Most races (excepting charity races and those organised by companies, like GNR) make little, if any, profit.


The contents of goody bags are generally provided by sponsors so is unlikely to have a bearing on the entry cost.


The reason why organisers charge more for on the day entries is because of the increased work in registering people on the day.  They also want to encourage people to enter in advance to increase the chances of a full race and reduce the risk of no-one turning up if the weather is bad.  It's simple marketing.


If you don't like it, don't race.

18/09/2010 at 21:11
Well said Tigerlilly

As a student I find everything expensive from chips and cheese at the local kebab house to race entries, so I guess I am not entitled to an opinion on the matter!

Maybe the secret to cheaper races lies in some kind of pricing levels system - For example, you could have runners who are after goody bags paying a higher price, and then have concessions for experienced runners, regular event runners and of course students and the elderly

As if you don't already have enough stress to cope with!

My Running Blog
18/09/2010 at 21:16
Thanks for your feedback TigerLilly. I have organised events previously but these are orienteering events, which manage to process hundreds of entry-on-the-day (no pre-entry) runners at a typical cost of £5-6 whilst having to supply competitors with maps and computer equipment for downloading, insurance costs etc... I appreciate that these events do not happen on public roads and therefore there are addition health and safely/insurance concerns.

The thing is, I know it can be done cheaply. For example, take these two events. What is the difference?.

1). Gade Valley Runners organise a series of excellent training runs (in race format) for runners preparing for the London (and other) marathons. The 20 Miler course is entry-on-the-day only, costs £5, are excellently run and you get tea and cakes ate the end for free. How bloody good is that?.

2). Tomorrow there is a 10k in Tunbridge Wells. I know not of the facilities offered but it is £18 on-the-day-entry.

Please don't get me wrong. I am extremely grateful to those clubs and individuals who put a lot of time and effort into organising events. Honestly, I do understand. However, I think it needs to be highlighted that people will choose not to attend if they think the entry fee is excessive.

W. r. t. M.ister W's comment, I don't!!.


18/09/2010 at 21:22
KinverRoss wrote (see)
 As if you don't already have enough stress to cope with! ................ My Running Blog

Yes.... you get the picture KR!  Though I do sympathise with your point - though consessions for the elderly..... that would encompass a huge proportion of our runners - I'm always being passed by some wiry 65 year old racing snake!  What is it with OAP's these days!    I'm guessing from your name you're in Scotland?  You don't even get the discount from joining a running club do you?  You have to join a club and Athletics Scotland from what I remember.  Tough break!  We have never carried forward much of a profit towards next years events from event entries.  We rely on and are extremley grateful for local business sponsorship and donations.  We couldn't do what we do without it.  We thought the recession would really harm our races but so far it hasn't. 
18/09/2010 at 21:24
One final comment on entry-on-the-day. Why do event organisers and organising clubs feel that it is appropriate not to offer discounts for affiliated club members for entry-on-the-day runners?. I don't know what the rules are w. r. t. offering the affiliated club discount, but this seems like a very questionable policy. People join clubs with the expectation that they will receive discounts on race entry fees (amongst other things) irrespective of whether they enter on the day or not.
18/09/2010 at 21:38

I hear what you are saying Dave - as you must agree though an orienteering event and a road race is totally different.  We organise a series of 8 winter trail runs - £3 entry - refreshments at the end.  It CAN be that simple and as you say (though confusingly in your OP you say there aren't a lot of such events) these type of events do exist if you know where to look.  As an orienteer - you must know about the fell runs around the country.  Our yearly flagship event is different though - we do pull out all the stops.

I'm unsurprised as the Tunbridge price - a big town 10k will be about £15 to pre-enter so £18 OTD is unsurprising.  As you say, you don't have to enter.  And TBH for every person who feels as you do there is another who doesn't - I honestly don't think it effects numbers on the day.  Perhaps you could organise your own local 10k at a really bargain price - you are right that you would probably be overwhelmed with numbers! Butmaybe a little light on your bank account the day after the event .

18/09/2010 at 21:48
Dave, with regard to "no discount for Aff runners for OTD" entry - £2 of your entry fee will be paid to English Athletics.  The extra £3 or what ever you are paying over the odds for OTD entry will be retained by the organisers of the race.  As i said, ideally we would like to know how many are entering the race before the day - for lots of reasons from H&S & risk management point of view.  The only reason I have EOTD is because I know a certain percentage of entries will not turn up on the day and at our event we are strictly limited to a certain number of entrants so its always a guessing game! This is why we prefer pre-entry and it's that entry that is discounted where as entry on the day is not. 
cougie    pirate
18/09/2010 at 22:19
Parkrun is cheap ? Set one up if there's not one by you ?
18/09/2010 at 22:37
coasters cost nowt and it is big Set up your own challenge and get people just doing it. Power to the people!!!
18/09/2010 at 23:15

I want an accurately measured course (unless it's XC) which provides finishing time and position without having to dodge non competitors.

Everything else is relatively unimportant.

I couldn't care less whether it costs £2 or £15.  If I really only wanted to do cheap races I'd just do cross country, open track meets, park runs, league fixtures and my club's races.  Hang on - there's a list of 5 different types of races there - how many more do you want?

Fuck me, all people do on here at the moment is find things to complain about which they can easily avoid.  I can't wait until it snows again and we get all that pathetic bitching and complaining. 

Edited: 18/09/2010 at 23:16
19/09/2010 at 06:56

Fuck me, all people do on here at the moment is find things to complain about which they can easily avoid.  I can't wait until it snows again and we get all that pathetic bitching and complaining. 

You noticed Andrew

Good entertainment though - but you do need to have a good look to find the 'interesting' threads!!

20/09/2010 at 11:19
Tigerlily wrote (see)
Dave, with regard to "no discount for Aff runners for OTD" entry - £2 of your entry fee will be paid to English Athletics.  . 

I understood that since the changes a couple of years ago, the unattached levy on races is retained by the race organisers, not paid to UKA any longer.
20/09/2010 at 12:14

I live in New Zealand and races aren't cheap here either but we generally don't get medals and fancy goody bags. i paid $60 (around 25 pounds or thereabouts) to run a half marathon at the weekend. We got a banana, a chocolate bar and a plastic cup of water. I've entered dozens of races and have two medals for special anniversary events. That isn't a problem for me. But I have to say i think you actually get a lot for your entry fee in some UK races!

 I helped a little bit volunteering to organise a race here recently and it is right that it is not cheap and a lot of work to organise. I enjoy races and don't mind paying. it's worth it and not like I enter a big race every week. What matters to me is that the course is accurate and I also like k markers at reasonably regular intervals because i'm crap at pacing myself. The rest of it doesn't bother me!

Edited: 20/09/2010 at 12:16
20/09/2010 at 13:19
I like a medal. I have a little collection and it makes me smile and a little bit proud
Edited: 20/09/2010 at 13:20
20/09/2010 at 15:48

I take the point about costs etc.

 However I have a sneaky feeeling that the increased costs of local races is at least partly an unfortunate knock of the growth of the large, mass-market hyped up mega events and the ridiculous prices they charge. Can't help but feel they have pushed up prices generally as runners have accepted the idea that races can cost that much, so other races charge more as that's what the market will support. It's one of the disadvantages of living in a capitalist society.

Of course the upside is that we, the consumer are the ones with the power. If we don't want high prices, we just have to avoid paying them, search out the lower priced races, or not race. When they can't sustain their races with high prices, they'll have to drop them. We just all need to stick together.

20/09/2010 at 15:53
I find the events very motivating in terms of my training. I work shifts and have not joined a club as trying to find training around my schedule. I train solo and just bought myself a 20 quid stopwatch to properly monitor times. It is nice to have chip timing, also nice to push myself and look at my improvement. The cost can be expensive for some but most of the events I run are on a Sunday and in the past I would have spent more on a Saturday night out so not only am I saving money but also not drinking and doing something healthy.
20/09/2010 at 16:31

Sometimes I want something more special then just a training run so am willing to pay to have the 'thrills' of a race.

I've recently just bought my first house so have barely done any races in the last few months. Basically, if I don't want to pay out then I don't have to, we all have the choice.

Some people treat themselves to a new pair of shoe or a night out on the town but for me, it's running stuff/races.

Dubai Dave    pirate
21/09/2010 at 07:00

As another who lives and races outside the UK I'll throw in the perspective here.

In general a 50K here in Dubai will cost you about 10 pounds, 10K 20 pounds, 10 mile 20 pounds, 1/2 M around 25 pounds, full marathon 60 pounds.

In the case of the marathon there are road closures so the cost escalates, the other races are all run off road or on the pavement so no policing costs but I'm well aware being involved in organising of several of them that none make a profit and all rely on sponsorship to break even.

Costs includes water / isotronic drinks, race permits (very expensive here), race T shirts (all Dubai races have them, its the land of bling) medals, race numbers (all the last three have to be imported at a fair cost), Liability insurance, trophies, medical staff, safety pins, etc etc. In short it doesn't really matter if a race is 5K or 21K the costs other than the quantity of water consumed are the same.

Anyway anyone who complains about the cost of running races should try Triathlon, after you have bought all the kit  you are then hit by some very high entry fees.

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