How many dollars in a marathon?
Most of the 30,000 or so runners in Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon paid $99 to be there. That works out to $3.78 per mile — a bargain compared with other big-city marathons such as Boston and Chicago at $6.68 per mile ($175) and New York, a whopping $9.73 per mile ($255). But it’s also much less than many shorter races in this area.
When broken down to cost per mile, the larger and more popular races — not necessarily the longer ones — tend to charge the biggest bucks. And why not? Hordes of people are willing to pay for the mega-race experience, plus a little on top for profit or charity. “If you’re closing out, you can charge more and more until you find that level where people say, ‘I’m not signing up for your race any more,’” said Rick Nealis, race director of the Marine Corps Marathon, which was the third-largest marathon in the country last year. The Marine Corps race is the exception because, despite its gargantuan size and perpetually sold-out field, the entry fee covers only expenses. Nealis said his mandate is to break even rather than make a profit.
In contrast to the massive events, many small races are staged dirt-cheap with no frills and appeal to bargain-hunters and runners who don’t need or want crowds and hoopla. Plenty of area races charge less than $10, but the cheapest we found is a five-kilometer series put on by the Annapolis Striders that charges nothing. Race director John Curley said the club just wants to fulfill part of its mission: to encourage participation in distance running. Read related article.
Notes: Entry fees are as of the first day of registration for the 2013 race and do not include discounts or optional add-ons. Field size is number of entrants, not finishers.
SOURCE: Individual race directors and Web sites; Marine Corps Marathon; Road Race Management; MarathonGuide.com.