Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The high cost of racing

I realize that hobbies are very expensive (silk yarn anyone?) but it's sad how very expensive it is to enter a race. Even the local races that used to be relatively inexpensive have become outrageously priced.

I entered the lottery to run the Nike Women's Marathon Half Marathon: $100. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon the day registration opened: $125. I registered for the See Jane Run Half Marathon a month before the race: $91.99. That same day, more than a month in advance I registered for the Mermaid Triathlon duathlon: $65.30.

A couple of days ago I registered for the San Francisco Marathon, second half marathon. It was before the cut-off date before the prices went up again. The registration was directly on the SF Marathon website, instead of through Active or Signmeup or another site. It clearly stated the fee was $85. A lot of money, but I sucked it up and registered since I like the race. After I had filled out the very long form, completed all the blanks, I was told I was being charged a $6.03 "convenience fee." I looked all over the website and could not find anywhere that mentioned this fee, nor did I see any other means of registering. In other words, the registration fee was $91.03. Sure, it's not much of a difference but it's very deceitful to call this a "convenience fee" since there isn't any other way to register.

I realize it's expensive to put on a good race these days, even if most of the products consumed are donated by a sponsor. Some races give all their profit to some charitable organization (um, define "profit" for me, will ya?) others plow it back into next year's race. I think only the biggest marathons are making lots of money (yes New York, I'm talking about you) but it would be interesting seeing a sample or typical race budget.

I don't even mind paying the registration fees IF THERE'S ANOTHER WAY TO REGISTER! If registering on-line on the race's website is the only way to sign up, be honest and include the "convenience fee" in the registration price. It's hard enough for most people to justify the price when they're trying to pay their health insurance costs. Don't be dishonest about what we're paying!

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