Goodie Bags and Refreshments

Goodie Bags - well as the song goes, "What are they good for? Absolutely nothing!" More and more i am finding they are a complete waste of time, especially at the larger, more advertised events. After the Reading ½ my bag contained: 1 packet of organic minestrone soup (very useful in the middle of a car park), 2 oat biscuits, a (very small) bag of salted cashews / almonds, sample packet of cherry Fisherman's Friends, sample of some lip balm plus a host of flyers for offers you will never use. I appreciate all finishers get a medal, but these are mass produced so cant be too expensive, but where does all the rest of the entrance fee go? Runners are paying on average over £20 (some pay more) to enter large races, and for what - a medal? The samples of the foods / lip balm are handed out in most shopping / town centres up and down the country every Saturday afternooon - and you can run 13.1 miles around Reading (or any other town / city / village) for free any day of the week.
The organisers of all major races need to really understand why people travel long distances to run and to reward them with a bag of goods that were probably donated rather than coming out of their budget is nothing short of criminal.
Refreshments - burger vans seem to be the norm at most major races, am i the only runner who finds the smell of cheap, fatty meat and onions awful after running 13.1 miles? What runners require is a snack that will replace their lost energy not some tasteless burger with limp onions on top.
I recently ran the Hogweed Hilly Half and what a treat that was - there were only just over 250 runners, but the momento was a commemerative swim stlye bag, (much more useful than organic soup!!) plus the refreshments were rolls, fruit and cakes - all foods that runners prefer to eat straight after a run. The course was the toughest i have ever run, but because of the atmosphere, organisation and refreshments, i will be back next year and for years to come....i cant say the same for Reading.
I believe that if the organisers of major races dont start making the runners feel rewarded for their efforts, rather than just trying to make a bigger profit, then the smaller events will become more popular and these town / city halfs will be a thing of the past


  • I run races because I like the support and the atmosphere.
    Don't care what's in the goody bag!
  • At yesterday's half-marathon, every finisher got a medal, a nice t-shirt, and a bottle of wine! Plus the certificates are very pretty, have a village scene on it as background.
  • JJ, I know absolutely nothing about how races are organised and how much they cost. So when I say this don't think I am doubting you, I am just genuinely interested.

    Surely all races need the things you have listed above? If that is the case then why do the smaller races have the money for all the things listed above AND usually a great goody bag when the entry fee is much less than the entry fee for the larger races? If anything surely the smaller races should cost more since they don't have as many runners to fund it but still need to pay as much for things like Marshall bibs, marquee hire, road signs etc.
  • kitana I assume Reading Half Marathon organisers had to pay for roads to be closed and probably for the cost of police.
  • The end of a long race is probably the only time I enjoy the smell of onions and mechanically-recovered meat being fried :o) A few years ago at the Reading half, we were given nearly-out-of-date protein bars at the finish and the organiser had the nerve to come on here and tell us that they'd done it for our own good. I'd much rather have been handed a burger at the finish-line.

    I'd rather have no goody-bag at all than have a goody-bag with silly things in it like little samples of cranberry juice, pots of luminous pink custard, and throat lozenges.
  • the Coventry Godiva half marathon had a very good bag. Nice medal, good quality tee-shirt plus usual food and drink.
  • GavoGavo ✭✭✭
    Jason, I think that you've answered your own question by comparing it to a club race. Some people (bizarrely in my opinion) do prefer the commercial races but club races will give you smaller crowds and more value for money.

    If you don't like the big commercial races then don't do them. There are plenty of clubs out there who would be more than happy to take your cheque.
  • Why are you worried about what the goody bag contains? Can you honestly say you do a race just to receive the goody bag? I concede that some races have better mementos than others - I still use my Bramley shoe bag - but the goody bag is hardly the reason you do a race.

    If you don't like the the contents, throw them away.
  • Apologies for the confusion - i was not bemoaning the contents of the goody bag on their own, it was the fact that the entrance prices to the 'major' races was so high but for so little as a momento.
    Also, I am involved with a running club; a club which puts on a ½ marathon (that does not charge an entrance fee) and a 5 mile race with over 500 competitors, so do know what is involved with organising a race - if we wanted to make more money we could easily increase the entrance fee, but the races are there for the runners not the 'corporates' behind the scenes.

    In specific response to JJ - i really do know how much it costs to put on a race, and appreciate your extensive list, but quite a few of the things you listed, once bought are not purchased again - unless the marshalls keep their bibs as momentoes?
  • One thing that changes hugely between big and small races is the cost of traffic management - paying for roads to be closed is really expensive. Edinburgh Marathon almost got called off last year as they couldn't afford the cost of it; somewhere around 65 grand for that year i think, though I'm sure someone will have a more accurate idea.
  • I did the North Tyneside 10k this morning (incidentally, is it not listed on here or am I just being dim - wanted to rate it and can't find it!) and in my goodie bag was:

    - an adidas formation white and silver running top
    - two pairs of sports socks
    - a sample lip balm thingamie
    - a navy umbro cap
    - a complimentary one-day pass for the local (council run, but still) gym
    - two sports nutrition bars

    all for the bargainous price of £14 (£12 for club members).

    I know that the contents of the bags varied, but I don't have a clue how they could provide the contents of those bags for that cheap a price. And that was before Johnny J's list of other things the price needs to cover.

    I'm very impressed with them!
  • I did that too Beth!!

    mighty strong winds eh?

    I'm sitting here wearing my hat like a right saddo.

    I didn't get any socks in my bag though :o(

    ...but I did get a purple water bottle ;o)
  • mine was a black Nike t-shirt...

  • sorry, am I drifting away from the point?
  • The point about goody bags is they're not generally paid for by the organisers but are generally bits and bobs that the organisers ahve been able to get from local shops and other businesses.

    I just wish they wouldn't because in most cases it's little more than litter in a non-biodegradable plastic bag.

    Beth, you sure you didnt just nick someone else's running gear? :-)
  • that might explain a lot ;)

    did anyone loose their bag...?!

    Yep the wind was pretty bad but I still managed a PB so I'm happy :) I sat wearing my cap for ages before I realised it was making my headache worse. It's worn off though so might have to put it back on! THe socks are far too big for me so I'm going to Start Fitness Tuesday to see if they'll swap them for me.

    Would have liked a black t shirt but I'm still happy with my white one. I've always just had cotton t shirts before, never had spare money to buy a proper one so am chuffed to bits to have an exciting proper top!!!!!

    The lesson is that every bag should be as good as the north tyneside 10k (i can stay on topic, honest)
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    Running clubs put on races for their members and the members of other clubs, and non club runners because they love running, and enjoy races. They have a pool of volunteers to be marshalls, and will sometimes subsidise the cost of a race from club membership fees.

    Corporate race organisers run a business - they pay staff, and like any other business, have to make profit to survive. To think that they should not would be the same as expecting Tesco to sell food at the same price they pay for it.(20p/litre for milk anyone?)

    They provide a service for a price, and it's up to us to decide if it's value for money or not, and whether to enter.

    [adds North Tyneside 10k and JC's club 1/2 marathon to list of "races to do]
  • and to add my two cents worth - triathlon races cost even more to organise, you have to add in things like the cost of the swim venue and use of public roads, police permits and motorbike marshals for the bike course, many more items. Our club is busy with preparations for our annual triathlon in June, it will be the 17th year and it still takes a mountain of organisation, fees for this and that, tee-shirt printing, etc.
  • The North Tyneside 10k goody bag has been excellent every year I've done it - I'm pretty sure this is because the council organise it and it's sponsored by Start Fitness, not some big money making machine like the Greatrun series.

    The Blaydon Race always has a canny goody bag too image 

  • Give me a medal and I'm happy image
  • Did the Reading HM finish in Madjeski stadium? If it did do you really think the owners will have provided that finish and facilities for nothing? If you are running through a town on suburban streets which have been closed down, that sort of thing doesn't happen for free.
    As an example - to shut down a small 1km circuit in a city centre for a bike race / criterium costs upwards of £800/hour. Now think how much it would cost to shut down 13.1 miles of city centre / suburban roads for a few hours....
    If you want police prescence then that doesn't come cheap either. They charge for the privilege I'm afraid.
    Compare this to a local club race and you'll find that the club race uses a rural / quiet course and the runners have to share road space with traffic, ie Hogweed Hilly HM or Nuneaton 10. Specifically I'm thinking of Kenilworth HM - lovely rural course, out in the countryside, minimal traffic compared with the Coventry / Godiva HM which shuts down the city centre/part of the ring road / a lot of surburban roads. Entry cost is similar for both races but the former is run by Kenilworth Runners and the latter subsidised by the local council.
    I've done both last year and they are both on my list of races to do this autumn.
  • I think my worst was a pedometer after the Brands Hatch half .... like I hadn't already done enough steps!!!!

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