As excited as I am about going for my Disney Coast to Coast medal this year, the Disney races are probably not going to be a regular occurrence for me in future years. They are too expensive. The 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon has recently taken the honor of being the the most expensive race for which I've ever registered.
Here are my current three medalists in that category:
1. 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon: $195 plus $13.18 in service fees
2. 2013 Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon: $175 plus $11.85 in service fees
3. 2012 Chicago Marathon: $150 flat
These amounts are definitely at the very top end of what I am willing to shell out for a race. Especially the Disneyland Half. When I clicked on the "Confirm Your Payment" button, I think I literally said "ouch" out loud.
I am certainly willing to pay a premium for a Disney race, a World Marathon Major, or a unique experience like, say, running on the Las Vegas Strip. I am also more willing to pay a premium for a race if its proceeds go towards a charitable cause that means a lot to me.
Comparatively, if I'm running a more "everyday" race, I have a considerably lower limit on registration fees.
I will go ahead and quantify here. My two most-commonly raced distances are the half marathon and the 5K. For races that take place in the city of Chicago, my upper price limits would be roughly $80 for a half marathon and $40 for a 5K, respectively, inclusive of any service fees. Those amounts are not just for any old race, either - they would only apply to races that I really want to do. (For example, I'm personally not into mud runs, color runs, foam runs, etc.)
On a related note, I dislike when races tack service fees on top of their publicized registration rates. I always got irritated when airlines published amazing fares, but then when you went to book something you'd find out that the published fares didn't include a few hundred extra dollars in taxes and fees. It felt a little like this:
Last Friday was my most recent registration service fee surprise incident. I found out that my company is offering an employee discount to the Chicago Spring Half Marathon. I thought, what the heck, this race is logistically easy and the date works well in my calendar. I went to sign up, and found out that my employee discount would be negated almost to the penny by previously unmentioned registration service fees. Ugh.
Personally, I would really prefer that race organizers build any service fees into their published rates. Yes, it's psychological. But I don't like those surprises during the registration process. Just be straight with me upfront!
And with that, I will get off of my soapbox.
Your turn! What are the most expensive races you've done? How much are you willing to pay for a race? And how do you all feel about additional registration service fees?
The Goofy Challenge was by far the most expensive race I've ever run but it was (probably) a once in a lifetime kind of deal. For shorter races I like to keep costs about $10/mile but in Chicago that can be kind of difficult- probably why I don't run many local 5ks!ReplyDelete
I completely relate to the "once in a lifetime" deal when it comes to the Disney races! Especially once you throw in all the travel costs associated with going to Disney. Even so, I wonder if many people that are local to Disney still only do the Disney races selectively?Delete
I've done the cost per mile calculation a lot, too, and affordable 5Ks are super tough to find in Chicago! Almost without exception, when I look at race registrations outside of Chicago they are SO much more affordable! Sigh...
I made a similar "fee" complaint on my blog last March when I signed up for the "Get Lucky Half" where the advertised price was $69.77 (get it? 7s are lucky) which is mildly funny. But when I got to the last page of registration they threw in a mysterious $5.50 "fee". so the final price was $75.32 (which only had one lucky 7). They can pad their bottom line, knowing 99% of people going through the multiple registration screens won't back out for an extra 8% in price. Even if they lose 5% of people they will still make more money than without the fee. I guess the only alternative is to not sign up and vent my frustrations to the race organizer.ReplyDelete
UGH. The lucky-seven advertised price sounds like such a farce. It's a bait and switch for sure, because I think you are absolutely right that most people won't go through the whole process and then back out because of the ridiculous service fees. Incidentally, I ran the Get Lucky two years ago and did not have a good experience, period, so I don't plan on running that race ever again, myself. Let's all be selective with our races, thereby voting with our feet (both literally and figuratively)!!!Delete
TEAM ORTHO - BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! LOL!Delete
*Shakes fist in anger*Delete
Yeah, I have not heard very good things about Team Ortho in general. There were a ton of complaints from their Polar Dash last month in Chicago. Yikes!Delete
I'm with you on those stupid registration fees. Even more so when you figure they get all the data electronically, which saves them time and money on processing hand written entries.ReplyDelete
I often find myself "digging" around just to see if there is a mail in option that skirts the registration fees. About 50% of the time, I can mail in a check and save $3. I know it sounds silly, but it's kind of my little way of sticking it to the man.
My most expensive race... hmmm... I think the Iron Girl Du cost me like $125 - something like $100 for registration and $25 for a one day membership into the national tri group (required for insurance purposes, and also a total scam that should be included in registration costs instead of done separate).
Like you, I try to avoid 5Ks over $40, and honestly, most halfs that are over $50-60 (unless they offer a particularly nice shirt/medal).
It is very counterintuitive that the e-registrations, which require less manual processing work, are often more expensive! I am with you, if there is an online service fee, I always look to see if there's a mail-in option. Those $3-$5 savings add up in the long run!!!Delete
The Iron Girl Du charged $25 for a one-day membership to participate? That is infuriating!!! Reminds me of how most Las Vegas hotels charge a mandatory resort fee on top of their daily room rates and taxes. Grrrrrrrr...
I totally look at the race swag when I'm signing up for a race! There are so many to choose from that I have definitely started cherry-picking them based on the quality of the medal and shirt. If a half marathon doesn't offer a finisher medal, then there's a pretty good chance I'm not even going to consider participating, LOL.
As someone who works on a race committee I will tell you that we think a lot about those service fees and how to make them the cheapest. The problem is that they are tacked on by whatever online registration company you use. For example, SignMeUp charges 6.75% of the registration price plus a flat $1.25 per registration. We use SignMeUp and negotiated what I consider to be a decent rate with them that I believe is less than their published rate. We have included the service fees in the race registration cost in the past but then we just have to jack-up the starting price of the race which, from a marketing perspective, is bad new bears. As Pete said, very few people will back out after they see the service fees. We don't see a dime of the service fees, though. Those all go to the registration company! So most races are probably not using those service fees to make money.ReplyDelete
I did not think of it from the race's perspective and it sounds like in order for races to stay competitive (with other races who low-ball thier fee), they need to advertise their "pre-fee" price. However, I think that Team Ortho did their own processing as I don't remember being directed through active.com or another registration company. I wish all races still had mail-in registration which had no extra fees even though there is likely more hassle to register someone manually like Shinianen mentioned.Delete
In the past we have allowed for mail-in registrations but charged more for them. Meaning, you still pay the "service fee" but in that case it goes directly to our bottom line instead of to a registration company.Delete
It's all so interesting, isn't it?
I've never doubted that the processing fees are often just pass-through expenses for a race organizer to the participants. However, in my opinion it would be nice if the fees could be made more transparent upfront. When you watch commercials, often they'll advertise a product is $X plus $Z shipping and handling. At the very least, I would like if a race organizer published their fees as "$35, plus $3 in processing fees." Or even, "$35, plus applicable processing fees." I know it's about marketing, but I really don't like hidden costs.Delete
Great topic! The price is one of the biggest reasons I probably won't do a Disney race. When you add in air travel and hotel, it's just too much. But for a big name race like Chicago or New York or Berlin (my dream of all dream races!), dare I say it, I'd pay almost anything.ReplyDelete
I'm going to run Bataan in March and it is $95 big ones. (The price is the same for the half and the full, which is part of the reason I'm opting to do the full. Might as well, right?) It's kind of up there, but it's one of those "once in a lifetime" runs and it's for such a good cause, I don't mind shelling out the dough.
One of my all time favorite races (The New Years Double!) has tiered pricing based on how many people have registered. I like doing it that way. It seems the most fair. (The race director is a runner herself and all her policies are runner friendly. That's part of the reasons she manages to put on such a good show.)
I totally hear you - these Disney races are probably going to be a one-time deal for me. Likewise - I'm willing to pay a lot for a World Marathon Major - but probably only once! It reminds me of the whole wedding conundrum. Wedding vendors realize that the majority of folks will only get married once, and are therefore willing to go all out for that once in a lifetime experience. Plus they have minimal concern about repeat customers! So they are in a position where they can really take advantage of people that are not careful.Delete
Oooh, I am excited to hear more about Bataan. If the price is the same for the half and the full, for sure it's worth it to do the full. And I'm definitely with you on supporting a good cause.
That New Year's Double pricing policy sounds awesome. I have heard of races that charge different fees based on whether or not you choose to get chip-timed, the type of shirt you get or if you forgo the shirt, etc. I think that type of flexibility is great. I know it's probably logistically very challenging to coordinate, but it is SO NICE for participants!!!
While I am not an ardent Disney fan, I entertained the possibility of running one just to see what all the hype is about long enough to take a look at the prices. Wow! Felt like I was sucker punched to see a half > $200.ReplyDelete
That said I shelled out $255? 275?? Blocked out the exact amount for NYCM. It's a bucket lister and I've been waiting in the lottery for 3 years. I couldn't turn back now.
Extra signup fees drive me nuts. I've cancelled registration on so many races for this exact reason.
Yeah, I'm definitely chalking the Disneyland Half as a once in a lifetime opportunity. On a per-mile basis, it is by far the most expensive race I've ever seen. For the NYCM, yes, it is pricey but I think it is worth it, especially after waiting in the lotto for 3 years. Congrats on finally getting in this year!Delete
I am glad to hear that you've taken a stand and cancelled registration on races because of the fees. LET'S VOTE WITH OUR FEET (literally and figuratively) on these races!!!
I paid $175 or so for the Nike Women's Half Marathon in 2012. It's also a lottery to get in. I have to say that race did have the highest level of support/swag that I've seen in a while (Tiffany's necklace) and was run in one of the most expensive cities in the country.ReplyDelete
Triathlon races are also very expensive. A sprint distance (1 hr to 90 minutes in length) is usually $75-100. A half ironman is approx $250, and Ironman events are $600+. I consider it the cost of doing business (especially since having the right safety personnel is that much more important on a bike and in the water), so I am being more thoughtful this year to how many races I do. After I decided on Ironman Louisville, I then looked for cheaper versions of the other distances that I will race to prepare for that big "A" race.
I think the Nike Women's Half sounds like it is not too outrageously priced given the swag and the location. Heck, the retail value of the Tiffany's necklace could easily be the entire race fee, right?Delete
Oh my goodness. As much as I complain about the high cost of being a runner for what is supposedly a very low-maintenance sport, I have heard insane stories about the costs of being a triathlete. Even just the cost of the bike gear alone can make running costs pale in comparison. I've been told many times that for running, you shouldn't skimp on good shoes and obviously safety - and I think that is true tenfold for triathletes!!!
I was going to echo what Erin said, but based on what she told me! LOL! It is annoying when you have those fees, but eh? Less than $10 and I don't really care. Then again, I am not one to sign up for something before the price goes up a bit (not a lot) because it isn't a big deal in the long run.ReplyDelete
I think I paid well over $200 to run NYC. I would so do it again. I would pay $300. That is my favorite marathon EVA!!!! :)
Funny you bring it up, because I was thinking about how I was going to avoid taking too much advantage of early-bird registration rates this year. I've had too many experiences where the race rolled around much later and I didn't feel like doing the race for whatever reason. I had said that it was worth it to pay a little bit more and have more real-time knowledge of how things were going before the race... yet I still get super tempted when I do see the early bird rates for races way out in the future. It's definitely a give and take. And I think I need to stop spending so much time looking at potential races. It's like when I go shopping for running shoes - if I didn't keep looking all the time, I wouldn't open my wallet so much. So bad!Delete
I consistently hear glowingly rave reviews about the NYCM, despite the high price tag. I don't think I've heard a single person say it wasn't worth it to run NY! (And one of these days, maybe I'll get to experience it, too!)
Ugh, I hate paying for fees. However, I guess that is the price you pay when signing up for a race. Boo.ReplyDelete
The fees drive me nuts. They really add up after awhile, too, especially on the pricier races like the Disney races! Not cool at all!!!Delete