How to run a marathon on a budget
If you run several marathons a year you know that the fees and travel costs can add up quickly. Most people that I run with also run dozens of 5K, 10K and Half Marathons for the sport of it and as part of their marathon training.
According to findmymarathon.com, the median marathon entry fee for 2013 races is $75 (2012 median was $70 and $70 for 2011). There are currently 69 marathons with an entry fee over $100.
Median means half of the races cost more than $75.00 and half cost less than $75.00. Findmymarathon.com lists 714 marathons in the US and Canada for 2013. So in rough numbers this means that:
357 marathons charge less than $75
288 marathons charge between $100 and $125
69 marathons charge more than $125
The New York City Marathon has the highest entry fee: $266. There are several low key marathons without an entry fee.
Low cost races
You may be wondering how many low cost races are there, are they near your home and would you enjoy running them.
I used the following criteria to come up with the table below: It must be a certified course; the race is run on a weekend and not a trail race. Most of us work and can only run on weekends, trail running is a different type of race in my book and if I happen to get a Boston Qualifying time, I’d want it to be on a certified course.
|Price Range||# of marathons|
|$40 to $50||34|
|$50 to $60||77|
|$60 to $70||122|
|$70 to $80||150|
|$80 to $90||117|
|$90 to 100||67|
|$100 to $125||42|
That’s a lot of certified, weekend, road races in the US and Canada to choose from. Most of the races that cost less than $40 have fewer than 100 runners. The Boston Marathon is run on Patriot’s Day, which is also known as Marathon Monday, so it is not included in the $125 + category. Boston is one of the more expensive races to register for.
To come up with a budget-friendly list I looked at races with registration fees between $40
and $100, are certified courses, run on weekends, and not trail races. These are the types of races most of us run. To narrow the list and to keep from feeling lonely out on the course I picked races with 250+ finishers. And because I’m not an extreme athlete I picked average race day temps no lower than 40° and no higher than 70°. Findmymarathon.com found 189 races that meet those criteria in the US and Canada. That’s a pretty good sized list which includes, Bay State Marathon, Hartford Marathon, Vancouver, Ottawa and Marine Corps Marathons.
You can find your own list of low cost and local marathons by going to http://www.findmymarathon.com/ and playing with the selection criteria. I bet you can find 3-4 marathons within 100 miles of you home that cost less than $100 to enter. You may even be able to find some of those $40 races in your area that would be fun to run.
A low cost marathon with few runners may not have a finisher’s medal, any winner’s prize money and few amenities. I’m okay with those types of races but make sure you check the details before you sign up so you know what to expect and can prepare accordingly.
By choosing local, low-cost marathons not only are you saving on registration fees you are also saving on travel and accommodation costs which can be very expensive in large cities. Filling your tank or having lunch before you leave town after a race are great ways to put your savings into a local economy. Supporting the local businesses encourages those local businesses to support races in their communities.
How many marathons do you run in a typical year?
Do you have a running budget?
Do you have an overall budget for races, gear, food and everything else?
How do you feel about the big fancy races like Boston, New York and Chicago? Are they over priced?
Have you run any of the low cost, no frill marathons? What’s your opinion on them?
Run well my friends.