Running Races: How much would you pay for a well organized one ?

Race participation in the USA is going down... is it because races are too expensive?

I was reading an article on the New York Times some time ago that, quoting data from a Running USA questionnaire, stated that 20% of American runners planned to decrease their race participation. Half of these runners stated that increasing race prices was the main reason.

As you know, we run our own survey a couple of months ago (you can find some of the most interesting results here about your running pet peevesand here about what influences you buying a pair of running shoes).

A good chunk of questions was about race preferences and the amount of money people would comfortably spend for a well organized one.

Here are some of your results, based on 2,500+ answers.

Favorite race distances

One in three respondents chose half-marathon as their favourite race with more than half of respondents (52%) opting for half marathon or larger races.

Shorter races between 5K and 20K amount to 40% of all respondents.

Only 5% dismiss racing stating that they do not like to race while another 5% go extreme choosing Ultra marathons as preferred.

5K Races

More than 3/4 of our respondents indicated that they would spend $30 or less for participating in a well organized 5K race.

According to the Race Director website, the recommended registration price for a 5K race is $10-15 for pre-registrations and $15-20 for on-site registration.

10k Race

Some of the most popular 10K races are an annual fixture in a city or area and typically incorporate an element of charity running, where participants raise funds for a cause based upon their completion of the course.

With one in five respondents (20%) interested in a 10K race, 62% of them would spend less than 30$ on a properly organized one and the typical On-site registration for a 10K is $18-25.

Half Marathon

One in three respondents chose half marathon as their favourite race with 79% willing to spend more than $30 on a properly organized one.
Typical On-site registration for a half marathon is $40-60 ($25-40 pre-registration).

Most respondents (20%) are willing to spend between $41 and $50.


One in six (14%) respondents chose marathon as their favourite race with 70% willing to spend more than $50 on a properly organized one while the typical On-site registration for a marathon is $75-100 ($50-75 pre-registration).

One third of respondents (30%) would spend between $90 and $150 dollars on a properly organized race.

For comparison, here are the entry prices for some of the world’s most popular marathons:

  • New York City Marathon: $255 for US residents and $358 for non-US residents
  • Boston Marathon: $180for US residents and $240for non-US residents
  • Chicago Marathon: $195for US residents and $220for non-US residents
  • London Marathon: a spot in the ballot runs between GBP 39 and 35 – which become GBP 80 for non English runners
  • Tokyo Marathon: 10,800 Yen for Japanese runners (approx $100) and 12,800 YEN for foreigners (approx $120)

The interesting fact here is that the world’s most popular marathons cost more than the average to enter – but they are always over-subscribed with some kind of ballot system to assign spots.

This is because these races for most non-elite runners are not races, but life milestones to cross from wish and bucket lists.

What do you think?

Are you participating in races this year? If not, what’s holding you back? Is it the price? Is it that you don’t care about racing in general?

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