Saving Money on Races

I race almost every weekend.  I posted about it last week.  Honestly, it’s a hobby I like to do.

With the exception of one race, I never win money from races.  For every 5k this summer, I’ve paid full price.  I don’t mind $20-30 for a weekly 5k. It’s becoming easier to save money on running races if you spend some time looking.

Hobbies cost money and paying for a race series, or registration fee that I want to do doesn’t bother me. It does add up quickly, though.

You make time for what you want to do, but you also budget appropriately for what you want to do.  I was thinking a lot about budgeting for road races last week, so I decided to compile tips of how I try and save money.  Hopefully, they can help you too!  This also keeps in mind that I do not have children to take care of.

How to save money at road races

So how do I afford to race every weekend?  

For me, racing is a hobby, and paying for races goes along with the sport.  Looking back at the last few months, I’ve spent between $120-170 a month on racing and race fees. That is the cost of 2 half marathons these days or sometimes even one!  Heck, that is half the cost of the NYCM marathon!

  1. First, I’m fortunate there are many race options within 45 minutes of my house.  I have the option of racing in Philadelphia, Wilmington and all along the shore.  Each location is between 20-45 minutes.  While I do live 90 miles from NYC would be a 2+ hour commute and with tolls cost me an extra 50 dollars.  I would rather not pay 80 dollars for a 5k. So that is ruled out for “saving money.”  Running at local races also prevents spending money on extra gas, hotels, and even meals the night before.  Local races are a lot more inexpensive!
  2. I scout out races by several factors: 
    1. Price: if there is a 5k that’s 15 dollars and a 5k that’s 50, it’s easy to see which one I’ll choose.
    2. Location of where I’m working.  Since I work at multiple places in NJ, I try and find the closest to work.
    3. Prize money: just kidding, I’ve only won prize money once.
    4. Friends status.  Are any of my friends doing it?  I love seeing local racers and hanging out!
  3. Google for discount codes. I once found a coupon code for 10 dollars off a road race just by googling. For that particular race, I only paid 10 dollars for a 5k. That is the cost of the amount of gas station coffee I drink daily (just kidding). I always try and remember to google to see if there are any discount codes!
  4.  This is relatively obvious but register early for races.   Many races cost 5-10 dollars less if you sign up the Thursday before versus race day registration.
  5. Check out the brochures at your local running store or local small businesses.  Sometimes race directors will drop off special coupons/discount codes at the local stores.  We have plenty of race directors that drop offer discounts at the store.
  6. Check Local Run Clubs: Many running clubs have race discounts or some even compete in races as a team. You might also get a free race entry that way.
  7. Pace Races: Have you ever wondered how pacers in races are found? Often times, the race director will look for runners to pace the race. Usually (if you do a good job) they give you a free entry or a free entry at a future race.
  8. Finally, remember that every 5 dollars counts.  If you save 5 dollars on each road race and run 15, that is 75 dollars.  That is enough for a few more races! The money you save can even go towards your next running shoe.

The moral of the story is planning and strategizing for races can save a lot of money.  If you research and see what is available near you, often it’s a lot easier to save money on races.

Questions for you:
How often do you race?
What tips do you have for saving money at races?