download (28)Ten Ways to Save on Racing Costs: Money Saving Tips for Runners


If you do a lot of racing, the entry fees can start to add up. Depending on the length of the race and its prestige, a race can cost anywhere from $40 to over $100. Not only that, depending on where your race is, you also need to factor in travel costs.

But there’s no need to limit your racing activities because the costs are too high. There are ways to save money and get to the starting line.

1. Volunteer. Depending on the race, you’ll either get a free entry or a discounted entry. I volunteer at my local trail running racing series. In exchange, I race for free and still get the race-day swag plus some volunteer gifts.There are five races during the season, and all I have to do is get up an hour earlier, head to the location, and spend a couple of hours checking racers in and giving them their race bibs. Then I race, and after help with venue tear down and clean up.

If I were to pay for all five races it would be $50 per race, so I’ve saved myself a tidy bundle just by giving a few hours of my time before and after each race. The other nice thing about volunteering is that it is giving back to the community and an opportunity to meet people. And the smiles and thank-yous I get from participants are well worth my time.

2. Register early. If you know for sure which race(s) you are doing, take advantage of the early bird registration, rather than waiting and having to pay the full price. The other advantage of early registration is that you are guaranteed a spot. Wait too long and you risk the chance that the race has filled up.

Just to see the money savings between early bird and late registration, take a look at the Edmonton Half-Marathon in Edmonton, Alberta. The early-bird registration is $65. But, if you’re a procrastinator, you’ll be paying $105 for late registration.

Also, by registering early you’ve made that commitment. It’s another incentive to stay motivated.

3. Enter smaller, lesser-known races. It’s usually the big, well-known races that cost the most, so seek out races that are smaller or new to the circuit. Personally, I prefer the smaller races. They quite often have really good swag, you aren’t corralled and jostled around at the start line, and they usually have great post-race food. They are trying to make a good impression in the hopes that runners will return and so they go the extra-mile (no pun intended!) to make the event a great experience.

For example, the early bird entry fee for the Eisenbahn Marathon in West Bend, WI, is $60. On the other hand, the New York Marathon which attracts around 60,000 runners cost $255 for U.S. residents to enter, and $347 for international participants in 2012.

4. Race closer to home. Choose races that don’t involve plane travel or overnight stays. The cost of the race may be $75 to enter, but once you factor in travel and hotel costs, you could end up spending over $1,000. Running events have exploded in recent years and so it’s highly likely your town or city has one or more happening. Check your local specialty running store or fitness centre for races in your area.

5. Destination race. If you do decide to enter a race away from home, make it part of your bigger holiday. That way you’ve killed two birds with one stone, so to speak. I plan on running the Big Sur marathon in northern California next year. My husband, who isn’t a marathon runner, is coming to cheer me on, and after we’ll make a holiday out of it spending another 10 days exploring the area. So, pick a race in an area you’ve always wanted to see and turn it into a race holiday. Also keep in mind, that with most races there is usually a host hotel that offers group rates. If you are staying a few extra days, see if the hotel will give you the group rate for those extra days

6. Work an exhibitor booth at the race expo. The big races have expos where exhibitors are set up to show and sell their running-related gear and products. Often these vendors get free race entries. Find out which exhibitors wouldn’t mind you ‘working’ their booth during pre-race festivities in exchange for the free race entry. Hey, maybe they’ll even pay you! And, you’ll also have a chance to socialize with your fellow runners to chat about running gear and running and racing. Check your race’s website to see which exhibitors will be there and contact the ones you’d be interested in working for.

7. Check for race coupons. I’ve come across discounts on race entries through sites like Groupon or Living Social. Try searching on the Internet by typing the name of the race and ‘discount’ or ‘coupon’. You might be able to save up to 50 per cent or get deals like 2-for-1. Race organizers usually offer discounts if the race is selling slowly, so these are more than likely last minute deals. But, if you want to race on a whim and missed the early bird registration, keep in this idea in mind.

8. Race longer distances. Okay, so you aren’t saving money per se, but by entering longer distance races, you are getting more bang for your buck. Here’s the breakdown: The BMO Vancouver Marathon includes 8 km, half-marathon and full-marathon distances. The 8 km costs $45, or about $5.62/km. The half-marathon costs $109, or $5.20/km. The full-marathon is $149, or $3.50/km – by far the cheapest for the distance you are covering!!

9. Run for charity. Consider running for charity. Team in Training (TNT) who raises fund for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, is the probably the best known. (In Canada the website is, and in the U.S. There is a chapter in every region, so check it out:

With TNT, you have to raise a certain amount of money, and in exchange you receive your event entry plus they also pay your accommodation and travel fees at a major marathon or half-marathon. As a bonus you also receive professional coaching and training, plus support for your fundraising, all while raising money for patient care and blood cancer research.

10. Get sponsorship. This might take a bit of work, but if you are running for a good cause, or you are an impressive runner, see if your work or some other business would be willing to sponsor you, even if just to cover your entry fee. It looks good for them, and it’s easier on your wallet. What’s in it for the company sponsoring you? Free advertising, but you have to convince them you’ll be a great representative for their company. Just don’t go straight to Nike or some other giant corporation. Instead, start with local business. They might be glad to get their name out there!