How much should a race cost?

Following on from discussion of a specific race (Ashtead 10k,, one of the writers (Mark Coxhead) posted the following excellent comment (which deserves a thread of its own):
"Having started the dialogue on the cost of race entry fees I feel very guilty about having raised something so contraversial. I realise that one big defect in my argument was that I was basing my observations on my gut feel of average race entry fees.

Therefore on the train returning yesterday from the Great North Run I went through the October edition of Runners World and worked out the average race entry fee. This was a much larger exercise than I initially thought.

The figures below are based on races on pages 98, 100, 102, 104, 106, 108, 110, 112, 114 and 117. I have excluded Duathlons, Triathlons, Tree-athlons and gorilla-athlons, since these cover a multitude of distances and disciplines. The cost of the prestigious Great North Run, (and other similar races), at £38 has been included - you get the RED ARROWS flying overhead for your money. Where the entry fee was TBC, again the race was excluded.

less than 5 miles £6.60 (49)
5 miles £5.91 (28)
10km £9.90 (149)
10km - 10 miles £7.92 (32)
10 miles £7.60 (26)
half-marathon £12.09 (37)
half-marathon to M £8.77 (15)
Marathon £20.79 (7)
ultra £26.45 (5)
AVERAGE ALL £9.41 (348)


  • Steve Winder then posted the following:
    wow thats an impressive piece of work mark and i think there's plenty enough of a sample there for all race organisers to be able to see where they are picthing their entry fees relative to the average.

    the ashtead 10k is indeed expensive (= 'costing more than average') and we have the scientific evidence above! despite this i think it was still good value, especially for those like me with kids running as well due to the element of cross subsidy there.

    from the race ratings/reviews it looks like most who ran it enjoyed it, thought it good value n would run it again but i think that in order to get many more speculative entries next year it would have to be a bit cheaper. not sure that is desirable tho if the objective is to maximise the funds for charity or even possible if the corporation of london limit the number of entries.

    this has got me thinking about some other possible analysis of data on RW - how about looking at the % scores in 'value' and 'would do it again' for various races. these are 2 different measures of the value people put on events but i would expect some correlation. it's interesting to see that the ashtead 10k is unusual in scoring very highly for 'would do again' despite only an average performance (nearly all races i looked at scored between 60 n 80pct) in the 'value' section.

    unsurprisingly some truly great races (e.g. FLM, leatherhead firestation 10k) score very highly in both but many so called 'great' (e.g. GNR) are found wanting. what i havent yet found is the opposite case of a race scoring highly in value that noone wants to do again!

    mark - very interesting results and discussion. thanks for the stimulation
  • Excellent  bit of work from Mark, although it doesn't take into account the variables, Red Arrows, t shirts, medals goodie bags etc. It thows up a lot of questions. Why does a 10 mile race cost less than a 10k etc
  • My own view is that the more extreme the terrain or character of the race, the more outrageous the experience, the longer the memories, the better value.

    I paid £260 (yes, that's two hundred and sixty British pounds) to do an Ironman two years ago, and I think that it was money very well spent. I trained for three years with the event in mind, spent a year focussed on it, had a brilliant event, and still think about it very often (although I wouldn't do it again - too much like hard work). And I've done events which cost £10, and which were instantly forgettable.

    I am interested to see that the greatest value per mile can be had for 10 miles, and the least for 10km...

    I wonder how the top 100 rated races compare for cost/mile, and how they were rated for value by the runners?

    What are people prepared to pay for, and where do they think the money goes?

  • being a race walker, most of my events cost less than a fiver. I also do the X-country leagues where the club pays. I guess I'm a bit of tight-@rse.  Anything more than a tenner would make me think twice.

    The money goes into the coffers of the club putting it on with a percentage going to the County AAA, Area AAA and national body, doesn't it.

  • I think there are to many good people involved with organising races. They are certainly not capitalist to see the potential profit in it.

    I think they are all very cheap looking at the research above and good runners cold well absord entry prices being doubles. GNR & LM dont suffer from lack of interest and many more races fill up nowadays than they did a few years ago.

    Come on organisers realise your profit.

  • I do wonder why some running races have to be so expensive.  

    A bike race might cost an average of about 12-13 pounds but the field will only be 60-80 riders so your total budget is normally less than a thousand pounds,  and you have a 5 car race convoy - 2 lead cars, first aid, 2 commissaire cars, at least two race commissaires (referees),  and when you total up the race permit, BC and regional levies etc about £4 plus of each entry is going to the governing body of the sport.    You'd also expect to be paying out maybe £300ish in prize money.   

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    Why does a 10 mile race cost less than a 10k

    Stab in the dark here, but I would guess that the 10k's in the sample include some higher profile 'mass-event' races with big sponsors where generally higher entry fees cover a bigger scale of organisation, and fancier goody bags often including tech clothing (e.g. Nike events). In comparison 10 miles is not such a popular distance and would be typified by your local club organised race.

  • Just to add - big events that have road closures and police costs are a different matter - but local halfs that have a thousand entries on rural roads and charge extra for entering on line to cover admin costs do seem to be taking the mickey. 

  • nice bit of work there.

    Ok we are talking in averages here but and her is the big but.

    We are starting to see the professional/company orgainsed race. The cost on some of these events is frankly taking the p*ss. To compond the problem these are races aimed at "newbies" and one off charity racers.

    Margam park 10k this year is £17.50! So no road closure to pay for. T-shirt and medal in goody bag, money well spent. NO.

    Nos Gallan 5k is under a tenner. The road is closed, well 1/2 the valley is closed for about 6 hours. you also get a good quality t-shirt and a good bling medal.

    The newbie or on off racer will pay the high fee and think it is normal. We need to question why the high fees for some races. Otherwise more rip off fees will appear. This will strangle the club races that we love and compete in.

    When I say question I email them and bluntly ask the % of cash to a charity etc. I have no problems a business making money but at inflated costs is taking the p*ss.

    rarebit, race under a tenner. Could i intreast you in a nice south wales race. £3 for a mile.........................but you get booze and food after plus a PW for a mile......

  • I don't know too much about this, but is the avg entry fee for 10ks being distorted at the mo by the Cancer Research series which cost £17.50 each?

  • booze, food and a race for £3.00 ................................. I'm in.

    tell me more

  • and why cancer research charge £17.50 is a fecking joke. All for money rasied for cancer but when the events are in parks(no road closure) the goody bags are shite and marketing tools and they could not organise a p*ss up in a brewary, just under £20 is a joke.

  • £17.50 for a 10K ...........................
  • TT, the beer one .................. I need to know, ................................... nowimage
  • mailed you RM
  • Think that Cancer Research are having a laugh at £17.50 for the Althorp 10k event in a couple of weeks.

    I was interested in doing it because it's supposed to be a good event, but I can do Luton Rotary 10k for a tenner.

    I appreciate there's the charity element to it, but there's Charity and then there's stupidity.

  • There is a problem with the research in that you have presented a single point value estimator, the mean. Unfortunately this actually tells you very little. We don't know if there are a few very expensive races pushing the price up, or a few very cheap  race pulling the price down. It would be better if you could have a confidence interval where we could see where the bulk of the races were.


  • anyone want to do an excel spread sheet?
  • I have read somewhere, cannot remember where, that none of the entry fee for the Cancer Research races go to the charity.  So the £17.50 is not benefitting them in any way - presumably it is going into the pocket of some organisers.
  • And how much was the Great Wales Run in Cardiff the other week?

  • Can someone explain to me, if an event is being sponsored by a big named company (like many of the big marathons and half marathons), why are the entry fees more expensive?  I thought sponsorship would reduce the entry fees.  Or does all the sponsorship go towards paying some big name runners to take part in the event, and provide little or no benefit to the ordinary runner?

    I know that many of the smaller local events rely on volunteers to help organise the event, but many of these give as good a medal/T-shirt and goody bag as the big events.  So why all the extra cost?

  • That would be very disappointing if true.  The medal they give out at these £17.50 events is the worst I have seen by a long margin. The T shirt is OK but not great.  Both are mass produced and generic.  You don't get a time or results.  
  • You don't get a time or results. 

    F8ck that for a game of soliders!

  • The Race for Life web site says:


    Why is there an entry fee?

    We have to charge an entry fee to cover the costs of organising our events. By charging an entry fee, we make sure that every penny of your sponsorship money goes straight to Cancer Research UK. We do everything in our power to keep costs as low as possible. Here are a few examples of what Cancer Research UK needs to pay for using the entry fee:

    • Barriers and staging
    • Venue hire
    • PA system
    • Toilets
    • Race numbers
    • Medals
    • Marquees
    • Van hire
    • Signage
    • Postage of entry packs
    • Data processing
    • Call centre operators"
    As I read this, and the other information on the site, none of the entry fee goes to the charity, but all the sponsorship does.
  • I did a fell-race last Sunday
    7 Miles, 9 marshals on route, inc. 4 with radios
    prizes in all major categories
    free soup, tea/coffee and cake at finish
    online results up within 48hrs
    free photos available on request via email

    £3 all in image

    N.B. no barriers, portaloos, police, road-closures, PA, goody-bag/medal/t-shirt/memento (other than memory of the day in my head)...
    ... these are all plus points btw...)

  • Just the way it's meant to beimage

  • Daz

    Sounds great, if there were more races like that I think I would enter more.

  • Try club league races. Many races for very little money (I'm guessing they just about cover costs of numbers & small prizes), usually well-organised by fellow-runners & very friendly. Fell running is good like that too. Buy the marshals the odd pint & everyone will go home very happy.
  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    I got pissed off with being pestered for sponsorship money by Cancer Research after I did a R4L a few years ago (never done one since).

    When I told them I had paid my entry fee and surely that went to the charity, they did say that none of the entry fee went to the charity fund, that it was all used up in admin costs.

  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭
    Oh, and the 'admin fee' to enter on line really pisses me off too!

    It cannot cost more than, say 50p, for them to post the number out, yet I was changed £1.50 to enter the Southend 10k on line.
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