Monday, July 27, 2015

RACE INFLATION

No matter what our age or status in life may be, we are all impacted by the economic law of supply and demand.

Its simple. When there is an abundance of a good, product, or service, the price of the item drops. When there's a scarcity, prices rise. If there's turmoil in the Middle East, or an offshore oil rig is crippled by a storm, gasoline prices will rise. In the late '90s, when personal computers became the rage, scarcity of the product saw us paying $1000 or more for the bulky hulks. Today, with the abundance of computers out there, a sleek laptop or tablet can be purchased for around $200.

When I began my road racing career, over 39 years ago, we sometimes needed to travel two hours or more in order to enter a race. Today, there are more races than ever. On any given weekend I can find a dozen or more races within an hour of my home.

And marathons?

Marathons and half marathons abound. From September to the Christmas season, marathons are everywhere.

And...they're more expensive than ever!!!

No law of supply and demand here.

I will not disparage any particular marathon. And, let me add, I fully realize the amount of time, labor, city services, and liability incurred when a town or city decides to host a marathon, Finally, I also understand that a loaf of bread doesn't cost a nickel any more, so my age doesn't cloud my judgement.

A couple of weeks ago, I was prepared to sign up for one of my favorite marathons, held in November. When I visited the website, I was astounded to find out that the entry fee stood at $150!

Ok, that's $150 for the entry fee. In most cities, hotels are more than happy to gouge runners, so I'm looking at a minimum of $200 a night to stay in the city. Throw in parking costs and meals, and you're looking at a weekend that will set you back nearly $1000.

It has become outrageous.

I refuse to do it anymore.

Let me add that, in addition to your overpriced entry fee, major races charge anywhere from $500 to $1500 for each of those booths you pass at the race expo. And don't forget corporate sponsorship. Somebody is making a lot of money off the backs (and the legs) of runners.

I AM going to single out two marathons that, in my experience, are high-quality events, remain very runner-friendly, and charge fair entry fees to their participants.

After my big-city race sticker shock, I turned to the site of my very first marathon, which will celebrate its 43rd running this November, the Harrisburg Marathon. A flat, fast race, which runs through Pennsylvania's capital city, along the Susquehanna River, this race attracts about 1500 runners, and is superbly managed. You can stay at local hotels and motels for a fraction of the cost of big-city lodging, and, if you register before August 31, you'll pay only $70 for your entry fee.

The date of the 43rd annual Harrisburg Marathon is Sunday, November 8. for more information, go to: http://ymcarun.com/

On Saturday, March 5, 2016, the 19th annual Myrtle Beach Marathon will be held.

I have several biases when it come to this race.

First, I love the Myrtle Beach/Grand Strand region. Next, the course is flat, fast, and the race is extremely well-organized. There are great ocean views, excellent crowd support, and a terrific post-race party.

Finally, you owe it to yourself to go to the Grand Strand Running Club's booth at the expo/packet pick up. You will meet friendly, supportive fellow runners. They even provide a clothing drop for all runners along the course.

The entry fee is a modest $85, if you register soon, and, unlike many other places, area hotels are very happy to host runners, at ridiculously low rates, even for oceanfront.

The race website is:http://mbmarathon.com

Do your homework. Stop paying ridiculous entry fees for hyped-up, big-city races. Seek out established, smaller, more local events, and you can beat race inflation.

Feel free to share your stories of great, economical races, as well as rip-off races, and I'll include your accounts in a future blog.