I'll examine what I believe to be costs for your mid size race(500-2500 runners). I received some input from some local race directors but the figures you will see below is not for any particular race but general costs involved with planning a running event. With that introduction, let's dig into the details.
There are many different categories of expenses involved with races and these are in no particular order. I've also assumed in some of the numbers a race size of 1,000 runners just so you can see a per runner cost.
|Many races use Active|
|Everal Race Management is one of the most known in our area|
|Custom bibs cost more|
Race management(paid staff) - The larger the race, the larger the costs. For something of this size, likely not more than $1,000 for the race. $1/runner
|Detroit Police at Mustache Dache|
|When you got to go, you got to pay|
|Barricades all the way back at mile marker 13 at the Detroit Marathon|
|Signage for Mustache Dache that this was only a small part of what they had|
Announcer - it's fun to have an announcer there but it's not typically free - $150 - $0.15/runner
|Food tents for Kona Wicked Halloween - they had 2 large tents and 4-5 smaller tents|
|A Luau at Kona Run in June|
Uhaul rental - There are plenty of logistics in a race and all the stuff needs to be transported - $500 - $0.50/runner
|Brooks Trail marathon tech shirt - the best in my opinion|
|Back to the Beach participant glass|
|Pizza at the Ann Arbor Half marathon|
|Brooksie Way packet pickup at Oakland University|
|This medal is clearly more cost given it's size - yes, all half marathons got this too|
Website costs - costs here need to be factored into this annually since the race is typically promoting a race for a year ahead. $2,000 - $2/runner
City Fee - these can vary widely per City but permits are typically necessary - $200 - 0.20/runner. In addition, many cities are going to a "per runner" charge. A race for 1,000 runners could be up to $2/runner or $2,000
EMT support - $500 - $0.50/runner
Marketing costs - Facebook, news ads, websites, t-shirt and graphic design, etc - $5,000 - $5/runner
Postage for marketing - $1,000 - $1/runner
Printing/copying - $1,000 - $1/runner
Liability insurance - $1,000 - $1/runner
Charity(10% of revenues) - $5/runner
Add up those costs and you have $47.95 per runner! Remember, that's cost not profit!
If you assume an average price in our area for a half marathon of $55, that does not leave much for the race from a profit standpoint -- at $7.05 per runner that's only $7,050. Not much when you consider the time and effort that goes into an event that can take almost a year to plan and can require 100-300 volunteers. I think this is the reason why races have started to increase their numbers where they can in order to make more money whether it's for charity or for profit. Even if all the profits were going to charity, that still only $12,000.
Of course, one of the key things I'm not taking into consideration is sponsorship to help pay for things. With these, the race might gain back anywhere from $2,500-$15,000 depending on the size and popularity of the event. I would imaging that the number would be on the lower size especially for a new race that has yet to prove itself in the market.
The above is also assuming a basic event. It's not any fancy post race party. It's not something that offers special food or entertainment at the beginning and end of the race. It's not counting all the bling that you might get like huge medals, extra shirts, sweatshirts, or other unique things race directors come up with. These items just push the costs even higher which leads to a higher race registration for runners.
I know all of us try to watch our money closely and we get to decide where we want to spend it so having lots of race options is an advantage for us runners. It also means that races need to come up with new and exciting ideas to lure runners to their race. Unfortunately, to do that, it means race costs go up.
So next time you are thinking about signing up for a race, keep in mind that the hard work, time and commitment to put a race together for us, much of that race registration fee goes into putting on the event and is not making anyone rich. It is, however, providing choices for runners to race.
If you don't like the costs, you can always just run outside your door and not race but I, for one, really enjoy the race atmosphere and welcome new races into the area. I know there's a cost and I'm willing to pay for it to keep these companies offering more races for our area. We are very lucky to have so many choices for races in our area.
So tell me what you think about race fees? Are they too high? Would you pay more?
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!