I'm not a race director and I do not know any race directors, but if you know one, I'd love to chat and find out more about what goes into race pricing!
A few weeks ago, the pricing for the Chicago Marathon was released and lots of people were upset with the increase from last year. Compared to other major marathons, and the increased popularity last year, I'm not really surprised the price was raised. (The race costs $175.) It really is a superior event. You run through the streets of Chicago in many neighborhoods you'd never have the chance to do so otherwise. It is well supported, well organized and the city really embraces the event. Plus, living less than an hour away, it really is right in my own backyard. The Chicago Marathon and I have some unfinished business and I hope to cross that finish line some day. But I digress... The point I wanted to make is that the Chicago Marathon may be expensive to some, but you'll get an experience unlike any other. I don't really think it is that expensive for what you're getting out of it.
|Me and Mag Mile Runner during the 2012 Chicago Marathon|
There seems to be a new trend though, races charging a "premium" price for a "premium" event. The meaning is that the larger price tag comes with perks that you wouldn't normally get at a "regular" race. The thing is, if you use these extra perks or not, it doesn't matter. You will be paying the same price tag as everyone else. This past year I signed up for some races with larger price tags where some lived up to expectations and others did not. I'm not going to name names of races, but sometimes the more expensive ones just weren't worth it. And sometimes the cheaper races were just that, cheap. With so many options out there, it is nice when you find great events that are fun and worth the price. Have you done one of the "premium" events? Was the premium price worth it?
There was once concept I learned in the race registration world last year and that is "menu pricing." I don't know why more smaller-medium sized races don't do it. You sign up for what you want (general race price, race shirt, chip timing) and if you don't want it, you don't have to pay for it. I imagine there would be some headaches associated if computer systems don't sync up properly or if people change their mind on race day, etc. That is why it probably would work best for small-to-medium sized races. Would you like if more races did "menu" pricing? There have been some races that I just can't justify spending the money on, but I'd like to run them.
When I run any race (5k, half marathon or full marathon, I guess), there are a few things I'm looking for.
1) Course - I'd really like a nice, different course. In Chicago there are so many half marathons on the lakefront path that are just "out and back." Give me something different, something that I haven't seen before, something that gets me excited! If a Chicago race actually closes down city streets, I'm willing to pay a premium price to do something I wouldn't normally get the chance to do. And please, please include an ACCURATE elevation chart if there are hills. When you're running a longer distance (like a half or full marathon), it is great help to manage your own expectations and training on race day.
|Get Lucky 21k with Sara aka Gingerfoxxx|
I did this race just for the medal
3) Swag Bag - Some races have a bags full of random flyers but a decent expo where you can score some cool free stuff. Other races charge more because they are giving you some things in your swag bag. In my opinion, I shouldn't be paying for stuff that comes in a swag bag. If I wanted to pay for it, I would buy it from the store. Please don't tout this as a perk because not everyone wants to pay for something they don't want or will use.
|History of the Shamrock Shuffle shirts|
|Disappointed with post-race promises|
6) Packet Pickup - Many races in large cities do not do race-day packet pickup, which I completely understand. However, it would be really great if packet pickup was at a convenient location (accessible via public transportation), in the downtown area (the Loop). Having it at a western/central suburb location for one of the days (or 2) would be even better. If packet pickup isn't convenient for majority of people (only after work, during the week, in Lincoln Park), there is a good chance I won't do the race.
What are some of your must-haves for a race? Did I leave anything out? What are some things you'd pay extra for?