Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Cost of a Marathon

I was really bummed when I didn’t get into the Chicago Marathon lottery for this year.  I had thought about possibly running for charity (and I still might if I can figure out this fundraising thing!).

I have been looking into many other options to fill my fall marathon void.  I have already signed up for a race for next year (DC!), but I like to keep my race schedule relatively full. 

In my race searching and lusting, I have learned one thing.  Holy shit, have marathons gotten expensive!

While it is true that running is one of the least expensive hobbies you can have, actually signing up for an organized race is quite the opposite.  The average fee for the Top 25 most popular marathons has increased by 35% since 2007.  

One of the races I have my eye on for this year is the Naperville Marathon.  I remember when the Naperville Marathon was in its inaugural year.  I was already signed up for Chicago but I thought that Naperville would be a fun race to finish out the year.  It cost $150.  $150.  This is a small town race located about 40 miles west of Chicago.  It is run on neighborhood streets, through Naperville’s downtown and through a forest preserve.  I couldn’t believe that number when I first saw it.  And I guess others couldn’t as well.  There was a huge social media uproar that cause the race organizers to then lower the entry fee to $105.  Now that sounds more like it.

Race organizers are reporting several key factors that are adding to the increased cost of putting on a race.  These include post race food and drinks, technical t-shirts included in race bags, and music playing at the post race party.  Not to mention the cost of closing city streets, city permits, the need to increased police patrol around the race course, timing chips, and finishing medals.  

When runners add in the cost of transportation to and from the race course and hotel stays, the cost for individual runners begins to sky rocket without including the cost of running gear such as clothes and shoes.

The ever increasing race fees are one of the reasons I tend to only pay for marathons and a select few half marathons.  Many other runners have found this is the way to go in order to afford to race, as well as choosing fewer races to run throughout the year.  

Are you looking to save money on racing fees? Sign up for smaller, less popular races.  Races with less bells and whistles also have lower registration fees.  You can splurge on one big city, popular race and run the rest of the year in races with smaller fields and less amenities.  Your bank account will thank you.

What big races must you sign up for?

How much do you like to spend on a race?

Do you prefer to run local or travel for a race?
What are you training for in 2015? 



  1. Naperville was my backup plan if I didn't get into Chicago. One of my friends at work didn't get in, and she's planning on Fox Valley.

    1. I like both for fall marathon options. I'm jealous you got into Chicago!

  2. I've run Boston and Chicago. Both were totally worth the price tag. Philadelphia is somewhat expensive but didn't knock my socks off. I'm running NYC in November, and when that charge hit I couldn't believe it. Running is not cheap when you think of all the logistics of racing. I would love to travel to a lot more races but it is just too costly. My ideal entry fee for a full marathon is around $130-150. For a half, $80 is the sweet spot.

    1. That's about how much I like to spend on races. Those big city races are worth the cost for the experience of the race!

  3. Race fees have definitely gotten crazy. Thats part of the reason why I limit how many I do. For alot of my marathons I travel to the race so there are alot of expenses that ago along with the race fee!

    1. I limit my races as well, and I tend to not pay for shorter races like 5K and 10Ks. I like to save my money for the big ones!