On a recent post after the Ballycotton '10', I raised the question of why Ballycotton Running Promotions could organise a major 10 mile race race for €15 yet some other Half-Marathon events are charging €40, €50 or even €60!! With that in mind, I am reprinting an article here by David O'Dwyer of East Cork AC on the subject of race entry fees. This appeared in a recent issue of the Irish Runner magazine and it is re-printed here on this website by kind permission of Frank Greally, the editor of the magazine.
Race Entries.......Value for Money?........by David O'Dwyer
A hot topic of late is the price of race entries and how they can vary so much between comparable events around the country. What are the criteria that determine the entry fee for a race? Are competitors being adequately catered for? Are athletes getting value for money? All of this of course depends on what the primary aim of the race organiser is. Is it to provide a quality race or is it to make money?
This dicotomy is probably responsible for the significant difference in entry fees between comparable events. How else can the entry fee for say a Half Marathon in Cork vary from as little as €20 to as much as €60 for a Half Marathon elsewhere in the country? To add further to the discussion the race with the cheaper entry fee often offer a better deal to the athlete, not just in terms of prize fund but in overall organisation.
Many of the long standing races are hosted by athletic clubs or organisations with the proceeds of the race going directly back into the sport in some shape or form. Two examples of these would be the Dungarvan 10 hosted by West Waterford AC and the Ballycotton 10 organised by Ballytcotton Running Promotions. The entry fee for these races is €20 and €15 respectively. These are two of the more popular high profile 10 mile races that are well attended and well organised. Despite the relatively modest entry fee there is still a substantial prize fund that caters for the top 10 finishers and also the top 3 in most masters’ categories. Team prizes are also well catered for. It would be hard to argue that these races don’t offer value for money.
In the past few years many ‘new’ races have appeared on the race calendar. Apart from having impressive looking websites the other common denominator among these new races is the high price of the entry fee in comparison to some of the more established races such as those mentioned above. In many cases the prizes on offer are minimal with only the top 3 finishers catered for and possibly only the first in each masters’ category catered for. The team prize seems to be overlooked in many of these races.
There are no doubt expenses to be covered by race organisers and in some cases this will be required without a main sponsor on board. The obvious expenses would include the overall prize fund, chip timing, the provision of portable toilets to name a few. The goody bag for all finishers is now almost expected for anything above a 10k with finisher T-shirt, a medal or mug, a drink and other goodies to be included.
According to John Walshe of Ballytcotton Running Promotions the main reason for increasing the entry fee of the Ballycotton 10 race up to €15 is to cover the provision of chip timing as there is no longer a main sponsor on board. An additional cost for the Ballycotton 10 that most other races wouldn’t have is the provision of buses to transport runners to and from the race. If Ballycotton can do all of this and more for as little as €15 then why are other races charging so much more?
Most road races these days will state that they have an official ‘AAI permit’. Does this give them carte blanche to charge what they please? What does the AAI permit mean anyway? It appears to be offering an air of credibility where it may not be deserved.
The fact that these new races are attracting large fields means that there is an obvious need for them. It could be argued though that the large numbers that are entering some of these races are being charged over the odds are not getting value for money. This may be generalising but the majority of the entry fields are made up of people who are new to the sport and are not members of an athletic club. Unfortunately in many cases they are slow to join an athletics club as they are seen by some to be for ‘serious or competitive runners’ only. They still need an outlet for their training effort and want to complete a race and these races sell themselves as an experience as opposed to a pure race. This is their big selling point. Fair play to the savvy entrepreneurs who have spotted this niche market but are people being taken advantage of? In a time of falling prices in the economy isn’t it time for the price of race entries to follow suit?
Do you agree with David's article? Have you taken part in any of those events charging high entry fees? Was it worth it? Would you enter again? Click on the 'Comment' link below and give your opinion.
(By the way, the Running in Cork website got in excess of 18,000 hits in the month of March 2010 so your opinion will be seen!!............John Desmond)