Race Fees: What Does it Really Cost?

This post originally appeared on Ben’s old blog, Running From the Physio.

Recently, over on one of my new favourite blogs to read, Magpie in the Sky, Stephanie posited an interesting idea: a race price cap. She has decided that she will only pay a maximum of £1.90 per kilometre in the race, meaning that she is willing to pay more for a marathon than a half, and more for a half than a 10km race. It seems a pretty sound idea, and as she suggests, is a good way of deciding which races to do, out of the thousands available.

So, I decided to take a look at my own races: I haven’t done all that many, but I was interested. I discovered quite quickly that my first two races exceeded her limit, but that after that I had fared pretty well.

The first two races I ran were pretty big events: both marquee events for their relevant cities. They are the sort of events that are always going to be expensive, but when you’re trying to motivate yourself to get into a running habit sometimes that’s the kind of event you need. In contrast, my more recent and future races, particularly at the 10km distance, have been much smaller and cheaper events.

But, having done this, I got thinking. The entry fee isn’t the whole cost. I recalled another blog, the brilliantly named Medal Slut, discussing the cost of races last July. She had worked out that the Paris Marathon had cost in the region of £750, once travelling, accommodation and other costs were taken into account. Looking back at Stephanie’s blog, most of her races seem to be pretty local to her, a bonus of living in the London area. Living in the south-west, this isn’t a bonus I share.

So, I added two more criteria: the distance to the race, with a relevant fuel cost, and any accommodation costs. For the fuel cost, I decided that I would use 12p per mile. This may seem a little low, but I currently have a company car, and that is what I am charged fuel at (lucky maybe, but you should see my tax-code as a result!) Although I have not always had this, it seems fairest to charge all races at a flat fuel fee. Accommodation was pretty simple, the cost of the hotel room. I didn’t put the cost of food into the mix, as I still have to eat at home, and working out the difference between the cost of a meal at home, and the cost of a meal in a hotel / restaurant seemed far too in-depth.

The sharp ones among you might wonder while the Isle of Man 10k has “0” distance, despite clearly not being in the south-west. Basically, we were staying with family in the Isle of Man anyway, and from where we were staying, I was able to walk to the start. No extra distance was driven to facilitate racing. Also, all distances are rounded to the nearest 5 miles.

Unsurprisingly, the two races in which I stayed in a hotel the night before leap away as the most expensive per kilometre. Among the rest, the most significant change is probably for the upcoming Chew Valley 10k, which becomes a lot more expensive compared to some of its peers because of the distance I will have to travel.

My conclusion from all of this is that I’m not going to worry too much about race entry costs. While I might be on the look out for races that seem a little more expensive for their distance (such as the Wellington 10), or vice-versa (the Isle of Man 10k was a bargain), the difference is more academic than practical for me at the moment. Maybe if I start entering significantly more races then I’ll pay more attention, but at the moment I don’t think it is significant enough for me to worry. However, what I have decided is that I will only enter a maximum of one race per year which requires me to stay away from home: the accommodation cost really slaps a lot on, and unless a holiday can be incorporated, then I can’t afford to be doing that too often!

One thought on “Race Fees: What Does it Really Cost?

  1. Stephanie M

    Such a good idea Ben, I may have to do the same myself, but you are right I am very lucky and often it's a short bus ride or tube journey to the start. Using my Oyster season ticket (which I use for work) means I often incur no costs.


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