I’ve been fighting a battle for some time now. Not against any person(s) but against a budget. There’s a never ending struggle between my wallet and my ambition. Each year I assess my accomplishments and try to set new and bigger goals for the coming year and one of the factors that must always be considered is budget.
This year I want to ride in a bunch of local bike races, a new goal for me. I also have a few race distances I’d like to run and get new PR’s. So what’s the big deal? Well, the fact that I like to run the longer race distances, half marathon and marathon distances, as well as some of the more popular races like the Army Ten Miler means my goals come with a bigger price tag than if I wanted to race, for instance, all 5k’s. In just the few years I have been running and racing the price for race registrations has steadily risen. To some degree I understand because registration numbers have also risen in what everyone’s been calling “The Running Boom”. They say it’s bigger than the boom in the 70’s. With these larger fields comes larger operating costs for the race organizers, but let’s be honest, $250 to run the NYC Marathon with 40,000 other people? Can you even get a PR in a race that tightly squeezed into the streets of NYC? Yes, you can, but you’re gonna be weaving though a sea of people through the entire race.
I recently read an article by Dean Karnazes on RunnersWorld.com in which he talked about a race that had low registration numbers until it offered a Groupon, after which it filled up almost immediately. Personally, if I run the marathon distance this year, it’ll only be once because even the less popular races costs $100 or more. The closest stop on the Rock n Roll Half Marathon series, Philadelphia, has a price tag of $85 if you register 5 months in advance, and don’t forget about parking, tolls, food, lodging etc.
Please don’t think I’m naïve. I understand that the price of goods is whatever the market will bear, which means that there are obviously enough people willing to pay these prices so the races have no reason to lower them for little ‘ol me. Let’s not even get into Iron distance triathlons. *Ahem* $750+ entry fees plus the cost of all the equipment, plus pool memberships etc. I know, they sell out too, but let’s be honest, you could take the family on vacation for what it costs to compete in one of those bad boys.
So what’s this all mean? It means that I’ll have to pick and choose the events I compete in this year. I won’t be able to race every weekend, which I’d do if I had the time and money. I’ll balance out a few running and bike races over the course of the season with group runs and rides and it’ll still be a great year. I’ll remind myself that it’s not only about racing, but about being healthy and well rounded. It’s about spending time with other people who love to do the same things whether it’s an official competition or just training. It’s about getting stronger and faster doing what I love.