The cost of races, or the ice cream 5 km that wasn’t (for Sam anyway)


One of the things runners always say in running’s favour is that it’s cheap and easy. Unlike cycling, there’s no expensive bike required. Unlike swimming, it needn’t be the exact right temperature and you don’t have to have access to a pool or a body of water.

Just running shoes and some suitable clothes and off you go.

Or in my case add Garmin running watch, running hat, iPod, and fancy socks. But that’s just me, being princess-y, as Nat might say.

So I’m good with the line that running is cheap and easy. But racing? Racing is not. I’m often shocked at the price of running events. After all, it’s not like they take very long. The range for a local 5 km fun race is probably 20-40 minutes. That’s barely the time it takes to watch ads and trailers before a movie.

But they’re not cheap.

I said that if my knee wasn’t bothering me after Kincardine which was 6 km of running that I might do a local race or two this summer to focus my attention on speed. Mallory said she might even do it with me.

In the end I decided not to. Here’s my status update from Facebook this weekend, “So I was going to do the ice cream 5 km on Sunday but it’s $40 and while it’s all you can eat ice cream, that’s a lot more than I can eat. Also, it’s not for charity. And there’s a heat advisory. So that’s a lot of money when I could run 5 km by myself earlier in the cooler part of the day and buy myself an ice cream cone later. Might have just talked myself out of it.”

Who is behind the ice cream run? It’s Run The District | I Run For Ice Cream, part of a series organized by the Western Fair. I liked the look of it. It’s nearish to my house and the races sounded fun.

Western Fair District is excited to launch a new road race series titled RUN THE DISTRICT, presented by New Balance London and Investors Group that will appeal to all ages and all abilities.

The five race series takes place throughout 2015, with each race beginning and ending in the District. The five races are tied to themes relevant to activities in the District, in hopes of expanding the District’s sports entertainment products and develop new running opportunities for racing enthusiasts or those just looking to have some fun in London and surrounding communities.

The Run the District Race Series is designed to be fun, entertaining and encourage sports and fitness in the communities the District serves. Each race will provide food, prizes and a chance to be entertained.

Men will have the opportunity to participate in four races, while the ladies will have five races. Fun Runs are available at select dates.

To be clear, this isn’t a complaint that private companies are running races. Go for it! More power to you! I did the Warrior Dash and loved it. I’ve ridden more than my fair share of pricey Gran Fondo rides. But this doesn’t feel worth it.

And this isn’t a complaint against people who made a different decision, presented with the same facts.

It’s also not about the all you can eat ice cream. That didn’t even register since I can’t ever eat more than one ice cream cone. I love ice cream. It’s one of my favourite summer foods but it’s also one of those foods that has its own limit built it. I feel done after a small cone.

And I’m not worried as many people are about the Colour Runs, that this was trying pass itself off as a charity run. It’s not and they’re clear about that. See Nat’s post Philanthropy and Fitness about doing your background work before running for a cause.

This is me being frugal, thinking about cost and about accessibility and about value for money.

I started to wonder too about how odd it sounded to me to say that a race was too pricey. It’s not as if I don’t have the money. But we all have to make choices. For some people though those choices are more serious than others. We don’t do anyone any favours by keeping quiet about cost and finances. So in light of that, I hereby resolve to talk more openly about money and about how the fun things we do that we talk about on the blog cost. Money matters to lots of people and to not mention it is to participate in a weird kind of income/class privilege. So when I’m blogging about triathlons and Gran Fondos etc, I’ll talk price. Not sure I’m quite ready to talk about bike costs. Baby steps!

To that end, let me give a huge shout out to MEC for their local race series: “We are hosting five inexpensive running races at different locations throughout London’s beautiful park system. The MEC Race Series is designed to keep costs low for runners in our community. A registration fee of $15 gets you a measured and certified route, professionally-timed results and fun times at the finish line! Custom medals will be awarded to top finishers in each category. This year we have two half marathons in both Road and Trail options!” You had the option of doing all 5 races for $60.

No colours, no costumes, no mud, no ice cream, just your standard issue vanilla race. And that’s okay with me.  (See my past musing on trends in racing, Mud, zombies, and brightly coloured dye: Are the days of the vanilla 5 km over?)

I think come Halloween I’ll do the MEC race. See you there!

And I’m curious, what’s the most you’ll pay for  5 km race?

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