As race participation has continuously dropped the last two years, many attribute their decreasing involvement to the increasing expenses of the sport. While registration fees are not likely to get cheaper, there are ways to save a few bucks while still getting the racing experience.
1. Join a Running Club
Anywhere there’s a lot of races and running stores, there’s also a lot of running clubs, and a lot of perks for members. Check out your local park district or community center to see what they offer, and check postings at a local running store as they often have groups that meet there.
By joining a running club, you often get discounts on races for being a member. In Chicago, Dick Pond, CARA and Fleet Feet all offer training sessions for specific distances, as well as discounts on registrations.
2. Local Races
Keep your eye out for local races; while you may still have to pay the full registration fee, you can save money on gas and/or parking if it is close enough to walk or bike too. You’ll also save transportation time, which is just as valuable as money.
3. Early Bird Discounts
More often than not, a race will offer an “early bird” price. If you know a race is happening in the fall, check its website in spring and early summer to get the cheapest possible registration fee. Many races have two or even three price increases as the race date nears, so avoid paying those extra fees just for being a slacker.
A lot of races, especially the bigger ones with longer distances, ask for volunteers to help with handing out water, directing traffic or handing out race packets; as compensation for the volunteers, the race directors often give them free entry to a future race. Not only are you working to save money in your own wallet, but you’re giving back to a community you’re very active in.
5. Run With a Group/Charity
During registration, you may be asked if you are running in a group or as an individual. Usually, the races that offer a group registration, also offer a group discount. Instead of flying solo and seeing your friends at the race, coordinate a group and have everyone divide the price – nobody’s going to turn down a cheaper price, and running with friends is always fun.
Even better? Run with a charity group. Groups representing a charity also get the group discount, and raise money for a good cause. The money raised may or may not cover the race registration fee, but you’ll be helping people in need and will probably get an additional shirt to the race tech shirt.
6. Health Insurance/Employee Perks
While many people are aware of insurance companies paying for a portion of a gym membership, they may not be aware that they also may offer to pay for race fees. These companies want to promote health and fitness, so helping people live healthily is actually part of their job.
Also, some offices have employee discounts, depending on the company. If you run with your coworkers, you’ll also get the group discount, and maybe your boss who’s making six digits will just offer to cover everyone’s registration.
7. Race Packages
At the beginning of the year or running season, many companies will promote their race packages, where you pay a flat fee and get entry to a group of events trought the season.
One popular package is the Ram Racing Season Pass, where you can chose from any 5 RAM Racing events, and pay under $200, which is a $284 value. While this price only includes the 5K races, you can upgrade to any available longer distances for $15 a race. Plus, you get a ton of swag.