One of the first questions a race director must answer before they can collect registrations is How much does this race cost? The factors that determine a “reasonable” price are wide-ranging; race directors must consider:
- The base cost to put on their event: timing, local police, permitting, medical staff, RaceDay supplies, etc.
- What runners get: The extravagance of their giveaway items and post-race experience
- The amount of funds (if any) to be donated to charity
- The distance(s) of the race courses
- The number of runners expected
- The age of runners (I.E., a kids race is typically less than an adult-focused race)
Additionally, there can be regional differences in the price of races, and race directors will want to get an idea what the events around them are changing. However, the national numbers do give some sense of what’s “normal” in pricing, and where prices are heading. The basics of price look simple:
As you may expect, races increase in price as they increase in distance – and every distance aside from the marathon* saw a modest increase in price, whereas the marathon distance saw a small decrease in price. Combined with the knowledge that marathons were also the only distance that saw a decline in registration, this indicates that marathons are likely looking at lowering costs to compete in a saturated market.
However, average price alone does not tell the full story – an increasing number of events are incorporating more than one price point, with increases throughout the registration process. All race distances 10K and above averaged at least 1 price increase, and every distance saw an increase in the average number of increases.
While the average number of price increases ranges only from 0.8-2 regardless of race distance, the amount of difference between the high and low cost ranges widely. Longer distances, which also have higher average price points, see a significantly larger range between the high and low price – from $8.36 for a 5K to $32.12 for an Ultramarathon.
Takeaway: No race should set their price in a vacuum, without taking into account regional factors and event costs. However, if your race is significantly outside the average range, you should have an answer for why. If you have a comparatively expensive event, highlight what makes it special and worth more: I.E., a unique course that no one else is allowed to use, premium swag, or an amazing post-race party. If you’re charging less than the average, use that to your marketing advantage and promote your event as an affordable option.
Takeaway: Use price increases to increase your potential audience! If you worry that you’re pricing out too many runners, offer a low starting rate to capture the budget-conscious runner, and increase your last-minute price to compensate. Procrastinators tend to be less picky – and they expect to pay more for waiting in today’s market.
*Note: Ultramarathons make up a relatively small – but quickly increasing – number of the races on RunSignUp, meaning that the average price could be significantly impacted by a small number of outlier races.
Download the full 2018 RaceTrends report for free here: