Cost of Events

Hi All,
Is it me, or are running events becoming more scarce and increasingly expensive?. When I started running events 10 years ago there was always a local 10k on every weekend which you could just turn up at and run for £6-8. Now, entry-on-the-day at your average 10k will cost at least £15 (and 10 milers and halfs are worse).

As a consequence, I hardly run at any local events now. Why should I pay the best part of £20 to run an event on public roads that I can run on anyway for nothing?. Some may say that you get a medal and goody bag, but do you know what?. I don't want a medal. I've already got a whole draw of the bloody things. I also don't want a goody bag. Half of the contents is advertising material and the rest will probably end up (one way or another) in the bin. Surely, there's enough rubbish in the world without handling out this unwanted stuff to hundreds of runners (ever heard of global warming?). Incidentally, the policy of providing whole 500ml bottles to runners at water stations is hugely wasteful, but this is getting off topic.

The next thing that gets on my wick, is higher fees for on-the-day entry. I can think of no good excuse for this. Now, I can understand that organisers would like runners to pay and register in advance. After all, probably 10% will not be able to attend for some reason so this is easy money. I also understand that if they insist on handing out the above mentioned tat then they will want to know in advance how much tat to order. So the solution?. Yeah, don't hand out the tat. Or at least, don't offer tat to those who enter on the day.

Anyway, just wondered whether anyone else feels this way or am I just being tight? (I'm not even Scottish),

Happy Running,



  • Have you ever organised an event Dave?  I do and it ain't cheap.  I'm actually wondering if you are being deliberately provocative.... image.  I'll answer your questions/points.

    1. No, running events are becoming more common - the problem for small scale events is that there are now so many large events which attract large numbers of runnners that the smaller events struggle to survive -just finding a date which doesn't clash with another event within 40 miles on the same day is becoming increasingly difficult.  Unless you are on the far north coast of Scotland where there isn't a problem...... image

    2. Your point about medal/goody bag - well Dave, for every one who feels as you do there is another runner who wants a decent goody bag/medal.  You don't have to take one and newer runners are encouraged by them.  Our goody bags cost us little, in return for putting the advertising blurb in the bag we get free samples to put in.  On the water issue, I agree - we use cups but TBH on a marathon/half I prefer to have a 500ml water bottle to carry with me.  Again that is my personal preference - just as yours is not to have this.

    3. higher fees for OTD entry - well, we need more volunteers to handle this.  Volunteers are not easy to come by to help organise an event.  But the main reason is that we like to know how many are likely to turn up at the event so really the cheaper entry is an incentive to help us out.  We like to know roughly how many will turn up.  An extra £2 - £3 or so OTD surely isn't too much to ask (though I know pre-entries for big events can be quite a bit cheaper). But the incentive is there for you to pre-enter.

    4. People these days have come to expect a certain level of slickness at events...... we want people to return year after year to our events.  And they do.  So we must be doing something right!  Hidden costs of putting on events is not always apparent.  Start/Finish gantries/banners, chip timing, toilets, donations to volunteer organisations, paying for the course measurer to come up and measure the course, PA systems, sweep vehicles, numbers/pins, trophies, tiger tape, water, t shirts, website/pre entry on line, - its endless. 

    However, there are races that cost virtually nothing....... take a look at the FRA website.  Fell races happen throughout the year all over the country and generally cost £2 - £5 to enter.  There are no medals, goody bags, facilities etc. etc. They are brilliant - just running in the raw!  Its the road races that cost and while you are not alone in your opinion on cost - there are others who really enjoy the rigmarole of a full blown road event with all the trimmings (else why do we keep completely selling out well before the event dates?).

  • Unfortunately the cost of setting up events is increasing and organisers have to pass that cost onto the runners.  Just one road closure can cost a lot.  Most races (excepting charity races and those organised by companies, like GNR) make little, if any, profit.


    The contents of goody bags are generally provided by sponsors so is unlikely to have a bearing on the entry cost.


    The reason why organisers charge more for on the day entries is because of the increased work in registering people on the day.  They also want to encourage people to enter in advance to increase the chances of a full race and reduce the risk of no-one turning up if the weather is bad.  It's simple marketing.


    If you don't like it, don't race.

  • Well said Tigerlilly image

    As a student I find everything expensive from chips and cheese at the local kebab house to race entries, so I guess I am not entitled to an opinion on the matter!

    Maybe the secret to cheaper races lies in some kind of pricing levels system - For example, you could have runners who are after goody bags paying a higher price, and then have concessions for experienced runners, regular event runners and of course students and the elderly image

    As if you don't already have enough stress to cope with!

    My Running Blog
  • Thanks for your feedback TigerLilly. I have organised events previously but these are orienteering events, which manage to process hundreds of entry-on-the-day (no pre-entry) runners at a typical cost of £5-6 whilst having to supply competitors with maps and computer equipment for downloading, insurance costs etc... I appreciate that these events do not happen on public roads and therefore there are addition health and safely/insurance concerns.

    The thing is, I know it can be done cheaply. For example, take these two events. What is the difference?.

    1). Gade Valley Runners organise a series of excellent training runs (in race format) for runners preparing for the London (and other) marathons. The 20 Miler course is entry-on-the-day only, costs £5, are excellently run and you get tea and cakes ate the end for free. How bloody good is that?.

    2). Tomorrow there is a 10k in Tunbridge Wells. I know not of the facilities offered but it is £18 on-the-day-entry.

    Please don't get me wrong. I am extremely grateful to those clubs and individuals who put a lot of time and effort into organising events. Honestly, I do understand. However, I think it needs to be highlighted that people will choose not to attend if they think the entry fee is excessive.

    W. r. t. M.ister W's comment, I don't!!.


  • KinverRoss wrote (see)
     As if you don't already have enough stress to cope with! ................ My Running Blog
    Yes.... you get the picture KR!  Though I do sympathise with your point - though consessions for the elderly..... that would encompass a huge proportion of our runners - I'm always being passed by some wiry 65 year old racing snake!  What is it with OAP's these days! image image  I'm guessing from your name you're in Scotland?  You don't even get the discount from joining a running club do you?  You have to join a club and Athletics Scotland from what I remember.  Tough break!  We have never carried forward much of a profit towards next years events from event entries.  We rely on and are extremley grateful for local business sponsorship and donations.  We couldn't do what we do without it.  We thought the recession would really harm our races but so far it hasn't. 
  • One final comment on entry-on-the-day. Why do event organisers and organising clubs feel that it is appropriate not to offer discounts for affiliated club members for entry-on-the-day runners?. I don't know what the rules are w. r. t. offering the affiliated club discount, but this seems like a very questionable policy. People join clubs with the expectation that they will receive discounts on race entry fees (amongst other things) irrespective of whether they enter on the day or not.
  • I hear what you are saying Dave - as you must agree though an orienteering event and a road race is totally different.  We organise a series of 8 winter trail runs - £3 entry - refreshments at the end.  It CAN be that simple and as you say (though confusingly in your OP you say there aren't a lot of such events) these type of events do exist if you know where to look.  As an orienteer - you must know about the fell runs around the country.  Our yearly flagship event is different though - we do pull out all the stops.

    I'm unsurprised as the Tunbridge price - a big town 10k will be about £15 to pre-enter so £18 OTD is unsurprising.  As you say, you don't have to enter.  And TBH for every person who feels as you do there is another who doesn't - I honestly don't think it effects numbers on the day.  Perhaps you could organise your own local 10k at a really bargain price - you are right that you would probably be overwhelmed with numbers! Butmaybe a little light on your bank account the day after the event image.

  • Dave, with regard to "no discount for Aff runners for OTD" entry - £2 of your entry fee will be paid to English Athletics.  The extra £3 or what ever you are paying over the odds for OTD entry will be retained by the organisers of the race.  As i said, ideally we would like to know how many are entering the race before the day - for lots of reasons from H&S & risk management point of view.  The only reason I have EOTD is because I know a certain percentage of entries will not turn up on the day and at our event we are strictly limited to a certain number of entrants so its always a guessing game! This is why we prefer pre-entry and it's that entry that is discounted where as entry on the day is not. 
  • Parkrun is cheap ? Set one up if there's not one by you ?
  • coasters cost nowt and it is bigimage Set up your own challenge and get people just doing it. Power to the people!!!image
  • I want an accurately measured course (unless it's XC) which provides finishing time and position without having to dodge non competitors.

    Everything else is relatively unimportant.

    I couldn't care less whether it costs £2 or £15.  If I really only wanted to do cheap races I'd just do cross country, open track meets, park runs, league fixtures and my club's races.  Hang on - there's a list of 5 different types of races there - how many more do you want?

    Fuck me, all people do on here at the moment is find things to complain about which they can easily avoid.  I can't wait until it snows again and we get all that pathetic bitching and complaining.  image

  • Fuck me, all people do on here at the moment is find things to complain about which they can easily avoid.  I can't wait until it snows again and we get all that pathetic bitching and complaining.  image

    You noticed Andrew image

    Good entertainment though - but you do need to have a good look to find the 'interesting' threads!!

  • Tigerlily wrote (see)
    Dave, with regard to "no discount for Aff runners for OTD" entry - £2 of your entry fee will be paid to English Athletics.  . 
    I understood that since the changes a couple of years ago, the unattached levy on races is retained by the race organisers, not paid to UKA any longer.
  • I live in New Zealand and races aren't cheap here either but we generally don't get medals and fancy goody bags. i paid $60 (around 25 pounds or thereabouts) to run a half marathon at the weekend. We got a banana, a chocolate bar and a plastic cup of water. I've entered dozens of races and have two medals for special anniversary events. That isn't a problem for me. But I have to say i think you actually get a lot for your entry fee in some UK races!

     I helped a little bit volunteering to organise a race here recently and it is right that it is not cheap and a lot of work to organise. I enjoy races and don't mind paying. it's worth it and not like I enter a big race every week. What matters to me is that the course is accurate and I also like k markers at reasonably regular intervals because i'm crap at pacing myself. The rest of it doesn't bother me!

  • I like a medal. I have a little collection and it makes me smile and a little bit proud image
  • I take the point about costs etc.

     However I have a sneaky feeeling that the increased costs of local races is at least partly an unfortunate knock of the growth of the large, mass-market hyped up mega events and the ridiculous prices they charge. Can't help but feel they have pushed up prices generally as runners have accepted the idea that races can cost that much, so other races charge more as that's what the market will support. It's one of the disadvantages of living in a capitalist society.

    Of course the upside is that we, the consumer are the ones with the power. If we don't want high prices, we just have to avoid paying them, search out the lower priced races, or not race. When they can't sustain their races with high prices, they'll have to drop them. We just all need to stick together.

  • I find the events very motivating in terms of my training. I work shifts and have not joined a club as trying to find training around my schedule. I train solo and just bought myself a 20 quid stopwatch to properly monitor times. It is nice to have chip timing, also nice to push myself and look at my improvement. The cost can be expensive for some but most of the events I run are on a Sunday and in the past I would have spent more on a Saturday night out so not only am I saving money but also not drinking and doing something healthy.
  • I understand that new runners enjoy their medals, but there comes a time when those things really don't matter any more. We've got carrier bags full of medals in one of our cupboards, several hundred of the things. They've been there for years, never get looked at any more. Most are pretty cheaply made and tarnish badly after a while. Complete waste for us unless the medal is special enough to hang up. Some are, like my 2004 Dublin marathon medal which hasn't deteriorated a bit, neither have my 16 medals from St. Wolfgang in Austria. I much prefer races where you get useful prizes instead - many of our local races give stuff donated by sports stores. I've won a bike helmet, an odometer,  and sports clothing. One nearby duathlon always gives baskets of fruit and veg to all the winners - great idea.

    As for the goody bags - have to say that there I'm with Dave, I'll eat and drink the bars and water but all the ad stuff goes straight in the recycle bin.

  • MrsK8MrsK8 ✭✭✭

    Sometimes I want something more special then just a training run so am willing to pay to have the 'thrills' of a race.

    I've recently just bought my first house so have barely done any races in the last few months. Basically, if I don't want to pay out then I don't have to, we all have the choice.

    Some people treat themselves to a new pair of shoe or a night out on the town but for me, it's running stuff/races.

  • As another who lives and races outside the UK I'll throw in the perspective here.

    In general a 50K here in Dubai will cost you about 10 pounds, 10K 20 pounds, 10 mile 20 pounds, 1/2 M around 25 pounds, full marathon 60 pounds.

    In the case of the marathon there are road closures so the cost escalates, the other races are all run off road or on the pavement so no policing costs but I'm well aware being involved in organising of several of them that none make a profit and all rely on sponsorship to break even.

    Costs includes water / isotronic drinks, race permits (very expensive here), race T shirts (all Dubai races have them, its the land of bling) medals, race numbers (all the last three have to be imported at a fair cost), Liability insurance, trophies, medical staff, safety pins, etc etc. In short it doesn't really matter if a race is 5K or 21K the costs other than the quantity of water consumed are the same.

    Anyway anyone who complains about the cost of running races should try Triathlon, after you have bought all the kit  you are then hit by some very high entry fees.

  • DD - are you coming over for our 10 miler on 5 December this year?  £11 affiliated £13 unaffiliatedimage
  • One of the reasons for the price increases is that that many more races are organised by commercial companies these days, and they have to pay for their staff and make a profit. Also many local races put on by clubs have basically been driven out of existence by the obstacles thrown in their path by local councils & police. The rise the risk-averse H&S culture, and the tightening of budgets has meant that unless you're very lucky they don’t give anything away for free these days, and so they expect clubs to pay the same rates as the commercial companies. Then because you're not getting the negotiated bulk discounts the commercial companies can get for other services, excluding salaries you actually end up with higher costs than the commercial companies. Another issue is the fact that runner's expectations have increased enormously. 20 years ago you might have got way with a few holes in the ground with a canvas screen labelled toilets and a cup of water at the end, but not these days. Many runners now expect online entry, full chip timing, to be able to park within 20 yards of the start, a personal toilet 3 minutes before the start, and a goody bag worth more than the cost of entry. And woe betides if you don't provide these things – you’ll get very negative reviews on this site!

    I'm organising a small event next month to raise funds for a worthy running cause. It's a 300 limit, and we're only looking to make a small profit, certainly less than £1 per runner. Despite the fact that we’re not having to pay for road closures or venue hire, and the fact that the event is being organised entirely by volunteers, there is no way we could get the price below £7.50. I suppose we could have done away with the prizes and the medals, and not bothered with additional toilets to keep the price down - that may have satisfied the hardcore club runners perhaps. The fact is though there simply aren’t enough of these types of runner to make a go of it any more. You have to attract the unattached runners to fill your race, and many of them are used to running the big charity events and base their expectations on what they’ve seen there. They’re not going to enter smaller races without reward, and that makes a big difference to the cost of events.

  • @Tigerlily - surely 50 volunteers cost the same as 5 volunteers?

    To the OP, you could, I guess, just rock up at an event and run it without paying the fee and not claim a medal, tshirt, goody bag, and so on. The only glitch you could face is getting to the finish line as marshals will try to intercept anyone who isn't wearing a number.
  • "You have to attract the unattached runners to fill your race, and many of them are used to running the big charity events and base their expectations on what they’ve seen there. They’re not going to enter smaller races without reward, and that makes a big difference to the cost of events."

    I don't know that that is true.

    I'm a member of a club, but hardly "hard core".  I have done some big charity events, and I wouldn't do them again.  I much rather a small event, fewer people, don't mind if there's no medal or t-shirt.  I do like chip timing, but it's not essential.

    However, please don't skimp on the toilets.  Having to stand in a huge queue to use a filthy portaloo really DOES put me off a race. 

    There are a couple I won't do again for that reason (including one where they had to delay the start as so many runners were still queuing for the three portaloos provided).

  • @ Intermanaut - I wasn't refering to the COST of volunteers.  Volunteers are hard to come by, if you've got 3 - 4 of them on race day processing EOD entries they are not out on the course doing any number of other important tasks that need doing on race day  So for EOTD you need more volunteers - which is why we try to keep entry on the day to a minimum. The only financial cost for volunteers is a donation to their organisation, we feed them and they get a free TShirt if they want one.  The OP was saying that EOTD shouldn't be dearer but by incentiveising (only speaking for my own events) pre-entry it is one less thing to worry about on the day.
  • Wilkie wrote (see)

    I don't know that that is true.

    I'm a member of a club, but hardly "hard core".  I have done some big charity events, and I wouldn't do them again.  I much rather a small event, fewer people, don't mind if there's no medal or t-shirt.  I do like chip timing, but it's not essential.

    In my experience, in my area club runners only make up 25-40% of most races, and that's an area with about 20 clubs within a 10 mile radius, and not far from London. For example, the Wooburn Park 10k was held recently - just 71 of 260 finishers registered as club members, that's just 27%.
  • Looking at the Ely 10k, which is on New Years Eve (and nearly full already), you get a bottle of beer (no medal, no t-shirt, no goody bag), for an attached entry cost of £9.

    Over 40% of entries are unattached.

    This is a fast, flat, course, so has good PB potential, yet is not taken up only by hardcore club runners, nor by people who will only attend if there's a bit of bling and/or a decent goody bag. 

    And it's on a weekday!  There is no OTDE, but it will be full long before that anyway.

  • JFDI: Would love to run but sadly don't get back until 22nd December, anyway I've already got the mug!!!

    Wilkie: Ely might be on a weekday but its NYE and most people are off anyway, its hardly a normal week day. 

    I would be interested to know how many runners on these forums are club members I would hazard a guess its less than 20%  

  • Cycling time trials.

    £7.50 be it 10 miler, or 100 miler. No entery on the day, must belong to an affiliated club. Payment via cheque. Sign on in an obscure village hall, pedal to line. Start at allocated time. Cross finish line. Return to hall. Hand in number for a cup of tea. Await result. Bugger off home.

    High level competition, no frills and keeps the riff raff out. Why change something if not broke.
  • I'm a club member, but a tri club not a running club. I always enter races using my tri club name.

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