Would you pay £50 for a 10k?

I have been asked to share my opinion on the subject above for Run With an Idea.  The idea for the discussion comes from the entry fee for The British 10k, which boasts that it’s £50 entry fee will give you access to one of “the world’s greatest road race route[s] through the heart of central London passing many of the capital’s truly world class historic landmarks.”  As well as a medal and a couple of technical tees.

As a responsible adult, I use online banking to keep track of my spending.  I’m not really a shopoholic, and most of my non-bill money goes on food (in fact, a disturbing amount of my money is swallowed up – ha, I’m hilarious – by things to eat).  I don’t even spend that much on running stuff.  Usually 2-3 pairs of shoes a year, a few sports bras, and maybe a couple of pairs of tights to replace ones I’ve worn so much they have become a sunny day away from obscene.  Technical race shirts mean I don’t even have to worry about my top half (apart from already mentioned sports bras, because these are important).  Basically, since entering the world of full-time employment and becoming too old for cramming my sweaty body in a 7 inch gap at the bar, I no longer make this face when I log in to check my balance:


Please don’t be bad, please don’t be bad, please don’t be bad….

I also check by balance more than twice a year, so, you know, progress.  But while Quentin Tarantino’s weakness is feet, and George Best’s weakness was getting drunk, my weakness, according to my bank statements, is entering races.

In 2012, I took part in 25 races.  This year, I have run 17 races, and I’m signed up for 7 more.  So far.

Some of the races I have taken part in have been excellent value for money, but require a certain amount of travel.  The Skye half marathon in June this year was one example of this.  At £16 for entry, the course was beautiful, the weather was on our side, every finisher got a commemorative shot glass and miniature of whisky, and because it was an anniversary race, everyone got a wonderful canvas printed bag.  Of course, we did have to GET to the Isle of Skye to run the race, which isn’t free, and we also had to sort out accommodation (which was a reasonably priced hostel).  However, for the scenery alone, all of the extra costs for this race were worth it.

Worth the journey

Worth the journey

Isle of Skye average cost each, including entry, travel, accommodation, food : £100

Another example of a ‘destination race’ for me this year was the Paris marathon.  Looking back at bank statements, I started to wonder how I had managed to afford this at all, but then I remembered that different parts of the trip were paid for over the course of about 6 months, which made it seem a lot more reasonable.  I entered in October.  I had missed the ‘cheap rates’ because I was on a 10 hour flight home to Houston to visit family (and run some races), so I ended up paying about 90 euros for my entry fee.  Google tells me this is about £77.  Not cheap, but for the opportunity to take part in such a huge event in an iconic place, a fee I was willing to pay.  I also paid for flights, which were around £200, and direct from Aberdeen, which was a bonus.  While my travel companions were staying at a parent’s apartment, there was no room for me, so I splashed out on a nearby hotel, booking it well in advance, and setting aside money every month to cover the final bill, which was a staggering 550 euros (for 4 nights in Paris).

Paris - not just for running

Paris – not just for running

Total cost of Paris marathon, including flights, accommodation, entry fee, pastry consumption:  ~ £750 (this hurts to look at)

At the other end of the spectrum, I take part in several local races, some run by running clubs with very reasonable entry fees and a ‘no thrills’ approach to holding an event.  Yes, this sometimes does mean that there is no medal, which can be a bit of a grumble with me, but races are also a bit of a social affair in Scotland, the Arbroath Smokies 10 mile ladies road race being no exception.  With an entry fee of £14, and less than an hour’s drive from Aberdeen, this year’s 25th anniversary race saw all entrants receive a special commemorative technical shirt, a challenging course, and a generous spread of sandwiches and sweet treats to gorge yourself on after the race.  In addition, there was a raffle at the end (I won an Arbroath smokie!), and there was a great atmosphere.

Did I mention you got a bottle of win in your goody bag?

Did I mention you got a bottle of win in your goody bag?  Because you do.

Total cost of Arbroath 10 miler, including travel: ~ £20

Looking back at all of the races I’ve done, I realize that there isn’t a single one that I wish I had never done.  Even the ones that I didn’t enjoy at the time, I’m glad I did because they taught me something, like running a half marathon a week after your second ever marathon isn’t going to be super fun.  I also realize that I spend an awful lot of money (to me) on entering races and getting to them (even though Ronnie needs to stop paying for gas when I try and sneakily pay for it while he’s occupied!).  But is it worth it?

To me, a race is all about an experience, increasingly one spent with friends.  Paris is without a doubt the most expensive race I’ve shelled out on, and even though I look at the total cost figure and think about all of the things I could use that amount of money for, if I had the opportunity to take back the experience, I wouldn’t.  It was extravagant, but it became more of a holiday than just a race, and the majority of the cost was the hotel, since I was a solo traveller, and also because I chose to treat myself to something a bit fancy because I wanted somewhere nice after I’d run 26.2 miles.

So is there ‘too much’ you can spend on a race?  I guess it’s down to the person.  £50 for a 10k sounds extortionate to me, but if you consider that a marathon is just over 4 10ks, you could argue that I spent, roughly, £187.50 on a 10k, and that I did it four times!

Obviously some of the larger, more established races are extremely popular, and their popularity means they can get away with charging more for what is essentially organizing for a bunch of people to run from one place to another, time them, and then give them a medal and a t-shirt.  Does that annoy me?  A bit, I guess.  Especially when these big races do a sloppy job.  And while some of these big races are gimmicky, for others, there’s sometimes a good reason why they’re popular.  Maybe they are set in places where you get to run by landmarks, or run with people you wouldn’t normally get within a mile of.  I guess it’s down to individual preference.

I mean, I would pay upwards of £250 to run in a race that David Bowie would be participating in/attending/living near.  Double that if he was giving the post-race massages. But would I pay £50 to run The British 10k in London?  I’ve been to most of the ‘iconic landmarks’, and run by them before.  It’s certainly not something I would travel to London exclusively to do, but if I was feeling flush that month and happened to be there on the same weekend?  I’d probably cave and run it.

Iffem_shut-up-and-take-my-moneyAt least my weakness could be considered healthy, right?

22 thoughts on “Would you pay £50 for a 10k?

  1. I did the London 10k this year because I got giddy and entered at the start of the year. I entered because thought it’d be nice to have a weekend in London, somewhere where I’ve only been once.
    Race Entry: £50
    Premier Inn (2 nights): £198
    Theatre tickets: £190
    Train (2 people): £50 total
    Spending Money for the weekend: £250
    Total: £738….


    • It’s worrying when you look back and add up how much events cost, but at least I know why I have no money to buy a new laptop. Also, if it has created good memories, then it’s money well spent, surely? 🙂

  2. I ran the British 10k in 2007 and was so appalled I’ve refused to participate again despite being a Londoner. Back then it wasn’t even chipped but, although it is now, I’ve only ever heard bad things about organisation – late starts, no waves categorised by speed etc. For £50 I expect more!

    I ran the Paris Marathon last year and loved it, to me the cost was (almost) irrelevant. I wanted to do it, I got to spend the weekend in Paris spent time with one of my best mates, it was totally worth it! This year I’m doing the Frankfurt Marathon, I’ve not been there before, it’s a weekend away and I (hopefully) get some new race bling! I’ve not added up the costs but paying for it as I go along so it seems a lot more manageable!

    You’re absolutely right, memories are definitely money well spent – anyone can have a flashy car…I’ve just got a room full of medals and good times!

    • A flashy car won’t bring a smile to your face when you’re old and wrinkly, at least not in the same way as a good memory will (unless you’re deviantly into cars, in which case, whatever gets your rocks off). And even though some races have loads of bad reviews, I can’t help but be willing to give that race the benefit of the doubt.

  3. I’ve definitely gotten more price sensitive over the years with races. At first the prospect of running another half marathon was so thrilling that I’d sign up on the spot, regardless of fee. But now that I’m a little more … seasoned and therefore choosy, I tend to weigh my options more and that includes how much it’ll cost me just to sign up.

    For example, my buddy Otter just recently signed up for the Big Sur Marathon in California, which sold out in 58 minutes. I looked at it and noticed that the fee was about $150 (or £97.40). That’s definitely in the danger zone for me. Unless it’s a Major or a Disney race, I won’t pay that much unless it’s definitely worth my time. Granted, Big Sur is. It’s on my bucket list and I will definitely run it one day. But in the interest of moderation, I tabled it.

    Because marathons are worth it. They give you an experience that combines (or some might even say transcends) sightseeing and athleticism. But shorter races? No thanks. I won’t pay more than $30 (£19.48) for a 5k or $50 (£32.49) for a 10k. £50 for 6.2 miles is thievery.

    • I see your point, and while I’m definitely more choosy now than I was a few years ago (in that I won’t enter a race just because I’m free that weekend – yes, it was that bad), the price of entry is usually the last thing I consider. If it’s enough to make me sharply intake my breath, then I might back away from the computer and re-think things. I also think that more consideration should go towards any associated costs (travel, accommodation, sightseeing plans, etc.), because that’s where I find I can blow the most money.
      Although I would tend to agree that £50 for a 10k is thievery, there could very well be a 10k race with that entry fee that I would jump at the opportunity to take part in. However, it might be that it gets added to my ‘someday’ list of races that I set aside a little money every month for. 🙂

  4. Not that amount for that many miles no matter where it is. I did a 145 mile race for £45 with a great medal. Possibly the best ever. My own races I try to keep to a value of less than £1 per mile.

    • See, I’m just not sure I can give a value per mile to a race. I know there are loads of races that are MUCH more affordable/longer/etc., and in no way am I suggesting that I would enter a £50 10k without serious consideration, but sometimes I think the location/something else can sway me. Some people may consider these races to be gimicky, but on the other hand, a lot of people wouldn’t enter a 145 mile race! 😛

      • Most people won’t do a 100+ miler and nor should they if their challenge is something different. It would have to be something pretty special for 50 especially if you had to travel etc.
        Maybe running in a place that permission is not normally given or for a really important issue etc. But for my £50 I could do a couple of other local races.

  5. What is it that makes you enter a race? Is it the notoriety of it? Location? Goodies included? Or just the fact that it’s a race? (I’m terrible for this, I’ve skinted myself many months in a row through trigger-happy entering, there just seem to be so many races in Northumberland. Grr!)

    (ps, I’m really gonna hit the Scottish runs next year. Skye is definitely on the agenda, as is the Loch Ness mara and now I really fancy the Arbroath one where you get a smokie at the end! That sounds awesome)

    • Hey, not everyone is as lucky as me – I won the fish in the post race raffle (top tip: hold on to your race number!). 🙂
      Usually I enter a race if it’s a distance I want, someone I know (who drives) is going, or if it sounds like fun. For example, the Perth Kilt Run in a couple of weeks is a 5k attempt to beat the world record for number of kilted runners. The record is currently held by Perth, Canada, and last year we missed out on the record by less than 20 runners!

  6. This is a great blog post topic.

    I have been entering races for over 10 years, so I dread to think about how much I have spent.

    But the way I see it, doing races is more than a hobby – it’s a lifestyle, it’s my way of travelling some times, visiting or catching up with friends.

    I will not pay for a 5k any more as I do parkrun. I am now a little more cautious when it comes to the cost of 10ks too, as technically speaking I Gould be able to run 10k as a training run. I have done British 10k Run, twice. The first time it was my first ever 10k so a huge moment for me, the second time I was dissapointed with the organisation and didnt think the entry fee which was then about £40 represented value for money…now I think it is ridiculous.

    I try not to pay more than £20 for a 10k, I am reluctant to travel too far for a 10k either, as I feel it’s hardly worth the hassle.

    Now I’m on maternity leave (money is tight) I am now being careful with half marathons too. I am doing Run to the Beat which is about £70 I think, I’ve done this half 4 times an love the route around Greenwich. This year I paid £25 and have to raise some money for charity Wizz Kids.

    If you are really clever you can use a race as a cheap holiday, in October I’m going to Lisbon to do the Lisbon Half. I am staying with a friend (well actually someone I met at a Bootcamp and stayed friends with via Facebook) I paid £130 for a return flight and £25 for entry, I have budgeted £100 max for spends over the weekend – which I think is quite reasonable for a weekend away to a place I’ve never been.

    You really have to weigh up what it is you want from a race and how much you are willing to spend. I always ask myself could I do it a cheaper way, sometimes simply organising a training run in a new place is just as exciting!!!

    • I absolutely agree that races are a great way to travel and catch up with people. My OH’s sister lives in Edinburgh, and entering a race is a good excuse to get him to take us there to visit her and her family (including her freakishly adorable daughter). And I’m now in the habit of scouring local race guides for places I’d like to visit. I don’t have kids to think of, so I’m dangerous when I’m home alone with my debit card browsing event listings online… 😉

  7. I’ve never entered (or not entered) a race because of the entry fee. Those races with high price tags I would tend not to want to run in anyway, the British 10k being one in question.
    Generally though I believe some race organisers get a bad rap for charging ‘extortionate’ prices as the general punter has little idea of the underlying costs.

  8. I’m also a big fan of the race-cation. But I’m limited to one a year normally. The way I look at it is that on race day you spend very little money, so the cost of the race is equalled out by that. The other days on the race-cation are holiday, so that doesn’t count either.
    I also have an accountant who thinks running too far has starved my brain of oxygen a few too many times…
    All that said, I’ve paid for the B10kLR before, and was OK with the £50 cost. I’ve run it twice since, but have been for charity so I swapped race fees for fundraising drive instead. I still like the race, but being honest, I wouldn’t pay £50 for it now I’ve run it 3 times. A similar race somewhere else though? Yeah, I’d pay £50 for a race. But only if it involves a plane flight…

    • One a year seems like a good number. Maybe if I win the lottery I can bump that up to 2-3. Of course, I’d have to buy a lottery ticket first!

      Did you feel that the B10k was an organisational shambles? That’s the overriding gripe I’m hearing from others who have run it.

      • Being honest, the B190kLR is not very well organised for it’s size, but my biggest gripe is the lack of seeding by running ability. Apart from the elites, anyone can stand in the first wave, so you have to pass a lot of walkers. And for some reason, they cannot manage to start the race on time!
        However, I think the rest of the race is pretty well organised, there is no shortage of water with 3 stations along the route, as well as portaloos at 2km and 5km mark.

  9. Pingback: Race Fees: What Does it Really Cost? | Running in Series

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