Last week I registered my details to receive information on some extra guaranteed places for the 2015 Brighton Marathon. Where did these “extra” places suddenly appear from? Were the event organisers always planning on keeping back the extra places so that they could tempt the unsuccessful London Marathon ballot entrants? Are the extra places unwanted charity places?
My reaction got me asking myself the following questions: Have I turned into even more of a tight arse? What do other runners think of the price? Why are some races so much more expensive than others?
Have I turned into even more of a tight arse?
This was actually quite tricky to answer although I suspect that the answer is yes! Since getting obsessed with reading race reports I often find myself asking why anyone would pay loads of money to get caked in mud/covered in paint/swim in a polluted river. I know the majority of bloggers get complimentary race entries, but there are many thousands of other runners who are seemingly happy to pay to enter these events sorry experiences.
OK so I am clearly a tight arse! If I want to get muddy I will pay a lot less money to enter a Cross Country event! I hear that Newbold Comyn was awesome yesterday.
I know that at the end of the day it all comes down to personal preference, but in 2015 I have set myself the following price limits per race distance:
- 5k – free (there is no need to pay due to parkrun)
- 10k – £20
- Half Marathon – £30
These prices should enable me to enter the vast majority of the local events that are organised in the Sutton Coldfield area. Unfortunately my tight arse 2015 race pricing strategy means that I won’t be able to enter any of the events on my Races Bucket List*. Oh well, shit happens!
*unless I am lucky enough to get a place in the Berlin Marathon because we had to provide payment details when we entered the ballot.
What do other runners think of the price?
Following the release of the extra Brighton places there was a mixed reaction on twitter. Some runners were more than happy to pay £72.50 to run in and to experience a well supported marathon. Others seemed to think that the organisers were taking advantage of runners who were unsuccessful in the London ballot. I put together a quick poll on Fetcheveryone and over 75 per cent of the Fetchies who responded selected the option that £72.50 is too expensive for a UK marathon. Phew!Two respondents stated that they would be happy to pay £72.50 to enter a marathon; five respondents told me to stop moaning as I could have entered earlier when the entry fee was far lower (I tend to agree), and three didn’t care.
So some mixed responses, but based on my very limited sample of 42 runners, over 75 per cent felt that £72.50 is too expensive for a UK marathon.
Why are some races so much more expensive than others?
Now before you all think that I am having a direct dig at race event organisers I am not. I have organised tennis tournaments and I have been involved in race event management and organisation. I know how much work is involved, and can recite large sections of the Race Directors’ Handbook from memory.
I have spent many Sunday afternoons and evenings answering the same questions dozens of times via email. I have spent my time pitching to potential sponsors. I have spent hours freezing my arse off during the February half-term refereeing tennis matches. I have been sworn at by pushy tennis parents. I have spent my Sunday mornings and afternoons (hopefully) encouraging other runners.
I get it, organising large races takes a lot of money, time, stress and effort. Larger races bypass the majority of the more stressful aspects of race event planning by employing event management teams. This will clearly lead to higher prices.
I just do not understand why some races are so much more expensive to enter than other similar events. For example, the Bupa London 10,000 costs £26/£28 to enter whereas the British 10k London Run costs £50. I know the entry fee for the British 10k includes a technical tee-shirt but seriously, £50 for a 10k that in my experience was not even very well organised on race day??? Other people must have queried the reasons for the high cost as I found the following info.
As I personally would be happy to pay slightly more money to enter an event that offered (a) partial refunds, (b) the option to transfer my place into the following years race, or (c) the option to ‘legally’ sell my entry to another runner, I got googling again. During my search for answers I discovered the reasons for one half marathon not allowing cancellations and refunds. I then realised just how amazing the organisers of the Red Bull Steeplechase were for allowing me a full refund when I had to withdraw due to injury, yes a *full* refund (and I got to keep the free cans of Red Bull!).
If one event can offer refunds surely more of the larger events could be more flexible and at least offer official race transfers? I found myself left with even more questions:
How do smaller races and events make money and compete with the larger more supported races and events? Will smaller races and events eventually become obsolete? Will races and events get increasingly expensive? Will running events eventually become as expensive as triathlons? Will some runners eventually find themselves priced out of races?