Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Guest Article....Race Entries - Value for money?
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? 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)


Anonymous said...

Totally agree with David’s article! Got flyers at Ballycotton10 race for both Bantry Bay half & Wexford half marathon. Would definitely enter one of them until I saw the ludicrous price! (€50/€48 respectively) So they can simply shag off with their race!!! Don't like being ripped off.

Anonymous said...

I think the Running in Cork Website should make a point of not promoting races with excessive Entry fees. Charity races aside, some races are organised just for profit.

As this site is the number one go-to for race details they would soon get the message.

Alternative is to name and shame.

Anonymous said...

Yes,was thinking of entrying the Bantry Bay half Marathon until I saw the price of it. Would be travelling from Cork City so would probably have meant a nights accomodation&petrol on top of the entry. Would be great if I thought I was going to be placed, but I'm out running for the enjoyment and fitness of it. A real shame too as it would have been nice to get a half marathon in, early in the year.

Anonymous said...

I have entered The New York marathon and it is approx $250 whereas the Berlin marathon last year was 80 euro. Hard to imagine that the Germans would be out-organised by the Americans-so how do NY justify the price? A buddy of mine did the Bantry half last year with the proimse of a "technical" t shirt as part of the 70 euro price-the t shirt was like wearing a brillo pad-useless. Agree that these rip off races should be shunned.

Anonymous said...

Like the previous posters, as I read that great article the Bantry rip off came to mind too. There was one year I paid €60 for it after paying less than €10 for Ballycotton the same year and I enjoyed a far better organised race in Ballycotton. I am never anywhere near getting a prize but Ballycotton was still a better experience for me (every year). That is despite the fact that I live nearer to Bantry. Previously I wasn't aware of the great number of races on so anytime I saw one advertised like Bantry I entered it. However, following the discovery of this website I'm now aware of way more races most of which cost a fraction of the price. To think that you could enter ten BHAA runs for the price of one entry to Bantry. Also the scenery is as nice in Ballycotton - the Bantry crowd promote their race as if it is the only place in Ireland with pretty scenery. It is nice but there are plenty equally nice places. I too am not entering over priced races this year.

Financial Regulator said...

I think its obvious here that the Bantry Bay run is ripping people off wit there 50euro entry fee.Its crazy to think that they can charge that amount for water stations, toilet facilites and buses one way!!! The medals are of poor quality and the t-shirts last year were like something you'd find in the bargin bin of a fruit of the loom clothing store. I think its time for Cork Running Blog to do a Quinn on it send in its Auditors !!!

Paudie said...

Was planning on doing the Limerick half myself during the May bank holiday weekend and after the Ballycotton race I went to register.
That was until the price of €60 came up.
Decided on the Cobh 10 mile & Villierstown 10 for €15 each. 2 good distance races for half the price of the Limerick half.
I suppose it up to people to shop around.
Stick to the BHAA and club races and you won’t go too far wrong.

Anonymous said...

Myself and a few of my friends are not long back from completing the Rome marathon where we were impressed with the value for money compared to our experience back home. Cost to enter last fall was €35 (got more expensive as time went on, as these things do, but we got in early). For our €35 our race pack contained a very decent Asics backpack, which will be used again and again, a cotton t-shirt and a magazine on the race as well as race no, chip, etc. No deposit needed for the chip. During the race itself at the first 5K mark and every 5K mark onwards there was a water stop with plenty of bottles and cups of water, bananas, apples, oranges, biscuits and Gatorade in massive quantities. From the 7.5K mark and every 5K after that (12.5, etc) there were sponges available. Upon finishing the race, runners were presented with a very decent (and weighty) medal, a pack containing water, Gatorade & fruit and the organisers were very generous with these, often giving runners two or three without any quibble. On top of this a whole area with all the aforementioned fruit, biscuits, hot and cold drinks were available, again as much as you wanted. All in all a really well run and organised race with very generous food & drink provisions as well as some decent 'mementos'. When other nationalities asked us about races back home, we found it hard to recommend anything purely on the basis that many of the big races seem such a rip off.

Unknown said...

Maybe a good crowd to ask would be the City Council. Do they make money from the Cork marathon or do they have to subsidise it? It would give a good idea of what insurance, buses, medals, etc. cost. Presumably as a public body they'd be willing to divulge the information.

Anonymous said...

The FACT is many of these expensive races are set up as businesses for the organisers own profit(not for the benifit of runners) and that Clubs (if any) or charities associated with them receive very little and several of them do NOT have AI permits.
William D Kidd.

Anonymous said...

The following has appeared on the Cork AAI website....
"March 31 – County Board Notice regarding The Bay Run and other races without AAI permits
The Bay Run Half Marathon (Glengarriff to Bantry) takes place on May 2nd 2010. This race does NOT have an Athletics Ireland permit. Cork County Board was not approached directly or indirectly via a Cork club regarding this event. The Board is requesting that all Cork clubs advise their athletes not to support or participate in this event or any other athletics event that does not have a permit from Athletics Ireland.

Organisers of road races and athletic events (Open Sports etc.) in Cork must apply for an Athletics Ireland permit at least 4 months in advance via the Cork County Board. Permit application forms are available by contacting the Secretary at

Noreen Murphy
Cork County Athletics Board"

John Desmond said...

Just a quick comment on the comments!

"I think the Running in Cork Website should make a point of not promoting races with excessive Entry fees."

I can see where you are coming from but I'd have to disagree. The purpose of this blog is to inform people about what is happening in Cork with regards to running events and races. If I was to leave out any race then that would be a form of censorship. I just provide the relevant information and it is up to each individual to decide whether to attend a particular race or not.

Ray said...

price of a half?

ballybunion 50 euro

connemara 70

limerick 60

dundalk 30

enniscorthy 45

killarney 50

achill 60

dingle 55

gap of dunloe 50

galway bay 50

galway city 45

mooathon 45

longford 43.50

kildare 45

clare burren 37

oylegate 25

cork to cobh 20?

dublin city half 20

tarmonbarry 20

cork city half?


Anonymous said...

I`ve commented on this topic before a recieved some attitude for having an opinion !!!
Bar the ballycotton the numbers are still droping lads.
10 Euro again this weekend for a 4 miler , no thanks .
I`ll probably pay 5 Euro the following weekend for the 10K .
Now I also understand the charity thing but charity by its very nature should be optional , as an example for me I have 3 direct debit to various charities and I really feel I am doing my part .
I think some where between 1 and 1.50 per mile should be considered fair , any lower a bargain any higher a rip-off and not for me .
e.g. a guy can fly to England stay 1 night run a marathon and fly back for the price of just running a marathon here ( or even the Bay run ) FACT . -- granted budget airline and budget accom. but still !!!!!
For me guys I`ve the BHAA races pencilled in for the year including the Cork marathon an that will probably be it . I do think the website should prewiew all the races though as I will be checking for value for my money .

Anonymous said...

If you ran the 4 spring 10 milers this year it would cost you €65,
For which you would get:
1 running hat, 1 technical t-shirt & goody bag, 1 mug, 1 tee-shirt
with a long sleeved top for running all 4,
And if you are a top 100 you also get a ballycotton nike top.

After each race there is tea/coffee/cakes etc.
Shower & toilet facilities
Measured courses, Chip timing, water stops ,
Bus transfers provided where needed

You get to see more scenery than you can shake a stick at,

Support the Munster 4

Denis said...

Anonymous, if you are concerned about cost per mile you should enter the 39 mile ultra in Connemara, that’s also €70 so it works out at €1.80 per mile. A bit above your range, but as you are out there so long, you can get free (bottled) water at 10 stops!! Maybe all the half marathon entries are subsidising the ultra and full marathon, now there’s a thought…..

Seriously, people run races for charity, because it’s close to home, because they like the area, but at the end of the day, the pocket will decide. Now more than ever people are looking for value for money so the law of supply and demand will sort this out.

Anonymous said...

let runners decide for themselves which price range they want to enter. Some of us just like to run, be part of some new races, meet new people now and then. Vast majority of runners are unattached anyway so.....Keep promoting all runs on this website please.Running is on the up with all the free time due to unemployment so by running we de-stress from all the financial strains of the present economic situation.

Anonymous said...

Fun runners do not know what price is a rip-off and they make up the majority of participation at events like the connemara half, etc. I hate the way these guys rip everyone off especially when a lot of these fun runners wouldn't be aware this price is not normal in the running scene. I love the Cork BHAA circuit - decent races, great hospitality and well fed - long may they last.

Anonymous said...

As a new comer to running I set my target to be able to do the Bay Run half marathon and paid my entry fee, as this is, I think an achievable distance for me. I only started running in January with a few friends, we are fun runners and like to say we have achieved something. I came across this site a few weeks ago and am very impressed with the information on it but coming back to it today and looking through the comments I do not understand why The Bay Run is getting such bad press and its giving me doubts about doing it, I have been told that Dingle was €60 last year and many others are of similar price, I know the price is steep at €50 but I believe that this is also a fundraiser for Marymount Hospice which I feel is a good cause. Can anyone explain the press

John Desmond said...

In reply to the last comment...
Many of the people leaving comments here are comparing the prices of commercial races like the 'Bay Run' to other races organised by clubs. In that context, very few people are likely to leave comments defending them. Hence the bad press.

You really would be making a serious error in not running the Bay Run considering that you have already entered. What's done is done.....just run in it with your friends and enjoy the occasion.

John Desmond

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much of the money actually goes to charity???? maybe a few cent in every entry?

Anonymous said...

Hello All, I heard about this blog and said I'd leave a post. My name is Damian Moloney and I am the chairman of the Bantry Hospice Project (BHP), we were the charity partner of the Bay Run 09 and again this year.

I am not a runner, so can only comment on the charity side of things. (Although every runner I spoke with last year really enjoyed the event).The Bay Run organisers made a very substancial donation to the BHP last year and runners returned sponsorship cards giving us a very desent final figure. Which we really appreciate, also other charities, schools etc manned water stations and were all given donations by the organisers.

For me seeing the large crowds the Bay Run brings to Bantry and
Glengarriff is a great sign of the popularity of the race and we, as the charity parnter, definatly substancially benifit from the event!

I hope to welcome all runners to Bantry on the finish line on the 2nd of May and say keep up the good work to the organisers!