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The big costs of marathon running

October 31, 2014

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By Flickr user lululemon athletica

The annual TCS NYC Marathon is this weekend and with 50,000 plus runners headed for the five boroughs, this single event brings over $300 million dollars into the local economy.

It is estimated that athletes in NYC spent on average about $1,800 dollars each during the course of their weekend. For a sport that should be as simple as lacing up a pair of sneakers and hitting the pavement, it can get really pricey for the non-elite runner who is doing this for recreation.

So, before you get inspired to hit the streets, here’s a look at some typical costs of marathon running.

  1. The entry fee, which varies wildly depending on the race, but are typically around $100, with races like Boston ($175 for US residents), Disney’s Goofy Marathon ($170-200 depending on when you enter) and New York ($255 for non NYRR members) tipping the scales at the higher end. And some, like New York, have a lottery to gain entry, which also costs a non-refundable $11 for those who don’t even get in to the race.
  2. Fundraising. If you don’t get into marquee races simply because of the crush of entries, there’s another way to enter. Some partner with businesses or charities to offer spots for people willing to raise typically at least $2,000 for the opportunity to run 26.2 miles. Runners choosing this option are basically factoring in a part-time fundraising gig into their race plan.
  3. Travel costs (which make up much of the aforementioned $1,800 per runner average). Hotels in places like New York are not cheap, and are in high demand with so many runners and their families in town. Unless racers choose a local event, hotels and transportation are significant expenditures. Many runners will opt to stay multiple nights, some to get acclimated before the race to the climate or altitude, and some a night or two after for recovery or to make a vacation out of the experience.
  4. Food. Have you ever seen a marathoner eat post-race? We’re not talking tiny salads. Many races sponsor their own pre-race carb-filled dinners for a prix-fixed charge. Add in race souvenirs and general tourism and that $1,800 dollar price tag doesn’t seem so far fetched.

But this is just the spending associated with the actual race weekend, there are many hidden costs leading up to the event during the typical 12 to 16 week training. We’ll look at those on Monday, after this year’s New York Marathon is over.


The official race site is here.

The marathon’s Facebook page.

Tips on following the race from Runners World.

Angel Cohn is freelance journalist who has written about entertainment and television for the last 15 years. She is currently an editor at NJFamily.com. Follow her on Twitter at @angelcohn.


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