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Entry fees: How much is too much?
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Right now, every time I look at Facebook, my timeline is plugged with "sponsored posts" for local races. I figure it's probably just that time of year and they are paying to have these things in there, but when I look at prices, I am blown away. $190 for a Sprint for the early bird pricing, over $200 for an Olympic.

Are these prices absurd, or am I just getting old and out of touch? These aren't anything special that involves jumping off a boat in the middle of a bay, exotic locations, riding a ski lift down a mountain, or anything like that. These are simply local races that are no different, if anything have less schwag, than the same races at the same location that cost $50 5 years ago....

*rant*I'm pretty much dead center middle class. I make okay money, own my home, and after I pay the bills, feed the 2.3 kids, etcetera, have a little bit of dough left over to go on vacation, enter a few races, and go out to dinner and celebrate afterwards, but not at this price point. At this price point, entry fees alone are going to price me out if the sport. When I can buy an airline ticket to Reykjavic from LAX for less than a Sprint in Huntington Beach, one of those two things is way overpriced*rant off*

So: I found my threshold: there's no way I will ever pay $200 for a local sprint. How about you?

What's the most you would pay to enter a Sprint, half or full distance race?

As a qualifier, I'm not talking about some sort of destination race, some sort of national championship, etc. I'm talking about your local Sprint/oly. Your local b type race. Even local half/fulls
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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Sprint, I wouldn't pay more than $100. Olympic, my limit is $150ish depending on location/swag.

$200 for a sprint is insane!

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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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I'm racing a $120 olympic in a month but there's no way I would pay more than that except for a huge race. At this same race the sprint is $110 which I find ridiculous.
Last edited by: realbdeal: Feb 9, 18 9:03
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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Wow, just wow. For $200 that'd better be one helluva sprint.
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [nickwhite] [ In reply to ]
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nickwhite wrote:
Wow, just wow. For $200 that'd better be one helluva sprint.

Are you in SoCal by any chance? I have noticed escape tri series Olympic race here (surf city) $200+, yet Philadelphia at $120. Wondering if we are paying some sunshine tax


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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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The New York City Tri Oly is $400 this year!!! I have raced it in the past, and I live here so it's a nice race and convenient, but absolutely, no way I am paying that for an Oly.

Local races I would probably pay up to $200-250 for an Oly, but that's very borderline and it better be one of my favorite races.

Strava
1999 LC Jr Nats 200m Fly Champion
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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Kona 2017 was $925USD + USAT FEES. $1300CAN!

IMAZ was $1065CAN for 2018 when all fees added in

Whistler is $725CAN right now. A steal for USA athletes with 30% currency transfer in American favor thats about $500!

@rhyspencer
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [sch340] [ In reply to ]
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I wouldn't use NYC Tri as an example. The overhead cost to put that race on has to be astronomical compared to any other race. Yes, I think its pricey and that has kept me from registering, but think about all the infrastructure in NYC that has to be accommodated and paid for.

$200 for a sprint is insane. I thought I had it bad here in Long Island with $130+ for a sprint. I am also on a tight budget race wise, so I try to pick a couple races each season and register early.
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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I think you are paying "what the market will bear" in So Cal. Here in the outback of America (eastern Tenn), I can still register for a May 18 Oly dist tri this month or in March, for $60. We're not living with the super cool kids but there are advantages to living in "fly-over country". :)


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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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All depends. If it is a very well run race, with great conditions (closed road?), and end of race amenities...then the price can reflect that. But if it isn't "polished"...then it needs to be cheap.
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [rhys] [ In reply to ]
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rhys wrote:
Kona 2017 was $925USD + USAT FEES. $1300CAN!

IMAZ was $1065CAN for 2018 when all fees added in

Whistler is $725CAN right now. A steal for USA athletes with 30% currency transfer in American favor thats about $500!

Kona is definitely one of those exceptions for me at least.. I'm fine paying more for a world championship, something that you have to qualify for, ETC. But a local race being priced that high is crazy to me.

$400 for the New York Triathlon is absolutely bonkers!

I am located in Southern California, so maybe there's a sunshine tax, but there are still plenty of races down here in the reasonable price range. For example, I can do the MDot Superseal Olympic in a couple weeks for a hundred fifty bucks. I don't understand why a small brand would charge 30% more than an MDot...

And I am glad to see that other people think it's crazy too. Makes me feel a little better.
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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Living in SW Michigan we have decent pricing. I've pretty much decided I'll pay about $50/hr for a race. Less for the rinky dink and a little more for a top quality product.
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [cdoug55] [ In reply to ]
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cdoug55 wrote:
I wouldn't use NYC Tri as an example. The overhead cost to put that race on has to be astronomical compared to any other race. Yes, I think its pricey and that has kept me from registering, but think about all the infrastructure in NYC that has to be accommodated and paid for.

$200 for a sprint is insane. I thought I had it bad here in Long Island with $130+ for a sprint. I am also on a tight budget race wise, so I try to pick a couple races each season and register early.


Right... well, the question was "how much is too much", i.e. my willingness to pay, which is independent of the fixed costs associated with a race. If the overhead is so high that it requires a $400 entry fee, you better have a venue so unique or enticing that participants are willing to pay that price (assuming it's not a championship race). Given that it's not sold out yet (and it used to be a lottery system) I would be willing to bet that they are near the ceiling of what the market can bear.

Strava
1999 LC Jr Nats 200m Fly Champion
Last edited by: sch340: Feb 9, 18 11:40
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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In SoCal, you have numerous things working against you:

  • Municipal and police costs are significantly elevated relative to other states.
  • You have some of the most restrictive uses with regards to volunteer labor, which has brought on typically more 1099/W-2 staff to be able to work these events. (Note: does not apply to races put on by 501(c)(3)s).
  • See above, but for the timing company.
  • Last and not least, but it's what the marketplace will pay and allow the RD to make a reasonable profit.

NYC is its own nightmare. There's a reason why IMNYC the second time around was going to be damn near $1500.


The cost of race production, period, is going up. Most races operate on relatively thin margins, so that escalation is going to be directly eaten by the consumer.

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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [rrheisler] [ In reply to ]
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rrheisler wrote:
In SoCal, you have numerous things working against you:

  • Municipal and police costs are significantly elevated relative to other states.
  • You have some of the most restrictive uses with regards to volunteer labor, which has brought on typically more 1099/W-2 staff to be able to work these events. (Note: does not apply to races put on by 501(c)(3)s).
  • See above, but for the timing company.
  • Last and not least, but it's what the marketplace will pay and allow the RD to make a reasonable profit.

NYC is its own nightmare. There's a reason why IMNYC the second time around was going to be damn near $1500.


The cost of race production, period, is going up. Most races operate on relatively thin margins, so that escalation is going to be directly eaten by the consumer.

Fair enough.

I want RDs to be able to survive and make a living, because without them we won't have races. However, isn't it kind of a downward spiral if the cost increases to the point where middle class, even upper middle class athletes, can't afford entries?

I think it raises the question of why not do bigger Fields with a lower entry cost. It seems like some races are aiming to do smaller field with a much higher entry cost, but that does nothing to grow the sport, and in fact sends it in the opposite direction.
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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So many of these things aren't scalable costs. There are fixed costs and those that are scalable. Anything over a sprint gets really wonky, especially when it comes to permitting and police costs. You might have more people, but you might eat all the additional cost by the increase in police cost (which is usually billed in four hour blocks at either double or triple OT. You're welcome!). Want to pass some of the blame around? Go to town hall and start screaming about the cost of permitting and police costs for events.

Also, can you guarantee that you're going to deliver the same athlete experience? Can your course handle the additional people?

I'm not doubting that we should try for larger event sizes when we can. But there are also significant reasons as to why you might be looking at events with much smaller participation caps.

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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [rrheisler] [ In reply to ]
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rrheisler wrote:
So many of these things aren't scalable costs. There are fixed costs and those that are scalable. Anything over a sprint gets really wonky, especially when it comes to permitting and police costs. You might have more people, but you might eat all the additional cost by the increase in police cost (which is usually billed in four hour blocks at either double or triple OT. You're welcome!). Want to pass some of the blame around? Go to town hall and start screaming about the cost of permitting and police costs for events.

Also, can you guarantee that you're going to deliver the same athlete experience? Can your course handle the additional people?

I'm not doubting that we should try for larger event sizes when we can. But there are also significant reasons as to why you might be looking at events with much smaller participation caps.

Most race directors would probably like to have their race bigger. But its up to the consumer.

I volunteer at an event and the numbers keep coming down so the revenue is down, however the cost keeps going up. We are a not-for-profit and use to give away a lot of money. This year we barely broke even. Planning for a smaller race next year (being realistic) and to your point - there are very few costs that vary. (SWAG is a small part of the cost and we give away "nicer" stuff.) We'd love to be where we are a few years ago in terms of participation.
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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I go with on average less than a $1 a minute per minute of race time. 5k’s get wonky at that price but most everything else fits in there. If it’s more than that it better have a good reason to be that much. I.e. downtown NYC I get that. But that’s normally my price range to look at.

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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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Depends. I hit a hard 'no' with the entry fee for Escape From Alcatraz tri... $750US?! Nope. Especially when you can do that iconic swim for way cheaper in other races (I paid $175 for a swim-run). Mind you, I paid ~$250 for an ITU draft-legal sprint in Mtl and was ok enough with it to enter again this year.

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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [surroundhound] [ In reply to ]
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I paid $390 for the Augusta 70.3 and felt physically ill afterwards.
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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I would never pay more than 50 Euros (must be around 60 dollars) for a sprint race. Sprint races around here in Germany (at least in my region) are around 30 Euros. I can do half distances for around 100-150 Euros. And I wouldn´t pay more than that. Prices are crazy in the US.
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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Short distance (Oly and shorter): $100
Half: $200
Long: $300

There are exceptions and reasons why these numbers can be higher, but large numbers definitely make this an activity that happens once or twice a year rather than a regular sport.

'It never gets easier, you just get crazier.'
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [synthetic] [ In reply to ]
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synthetic wrote:
Are you in SoCal by any chance? I have noticed escape tri series Olympic race here (surf city) $200+, yet Philadelphia at $120. Wondering if we are paying some sunshine tax

FWIW, that Oly in Philly did used to cost more. I think the price is trying to sway us to sign up for a race where the swim is cancelled 50% of the time.

To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive.
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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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When I started this we used to be endurance athletes who did triathlon because it was an endurance sport. 200 is too much for a sprint. A sprint should be a nice way to have fun for a few hours. I just was looking at cross country ski races and you can do alot of 50K races that are close to an airport where you can stay near the start line in a reasonably priced hotel. Race cost is about 150 dollars for a real experience. Trail running and next gravel triathlons. Maybe races where you can camp close to start line. Just have fun.

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Re: Entry fees: How much is too much? [sch340] [ In reply to ]
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sch340 wrote:
cdoug55 wrote:
I wouldn't use NYC Tri as an example. The overhead cost to put that race on has to be astronomical compared to any other race. Yes, I think its pricey and that has kept me from registering, but think about all the infrastructure in NYC that has to be accommodated and paid for.

$200 for a sprint is insane. I thought I had it bad here in Long Island with $130+ for a sprint. I am also on a tight budget race wise, so I try to pick a couple races each season and register early.


Right... well, the question was "how much is too much", i.e. my willingness to pay, which is independent of the fixed costs associated with a race. If the overhead is so high that it requires a $400 entry fee, you better have a venue so unique or enticing that participants are willing to pay that price (assuming it's not a championship race). Given that it's not sold out yet (and it used to be a lottery system) I would be willing to bet that they are near the ceiling of what the market can bear.

Yep, I applied and was not selected for the lottery system, but my friend was. I think the race was ~$250 that year (2010 or 11) and at the time, the most expensive thing I'd consider for that distance and yes, due to the seeming coolness of the location. I went up to spectate and the logistics were such that I had no interest in signing up afterward. The race didn't look quite cool enough in person to make up for the pain in the butt factor. Check in at one place, pay for parking. Bike drop another place, pay for parking, race morning, pay for parking. Parking that wouldn't accomodate a bike rack, by the way - she had to take it off the car each day (which meant putting it and the bike inside the car and she's lucky this was possible). All for a race with a 7 mph float down the Hudson with a pool noodle. There is zero chance I'd pay $400 for that. $400 was a steap but consideration-worthy price point for Alcatraz. NFW at $750.

To the OP:
Maybe up to $125 for a sprint, but I'd feel ripped off.
Maybe up to $175 for an oly. (I skipped Philly in it's near $200 price point years).
I think halfs should be capped at $250. Mdot is not worthy of what they charge and my recent registration for OOB was nausea inducing, but a team event so I did it anyway.
$400 for a local full (but not with start/finsh line 50 miles apart!). I did B2B at a higher price b/c I signed up 10 days out but at it's initial price of $375 was worth every penny and then some, RIP to a great event)

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