Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Racing is expensive - 10 ways to cut cost!

1. Register early –

For example, the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon series has a tiered fee. Early registration is $95, late registration is $115 and registration at the EXPO (day before the event) is $145. Early registration is a 21 % savings over late registration and a whopping 52% savings over registering at the EXPO. You would have to really want to race if you waited until the last minute. They had a special at the New Orleans race if you signed up for next year. The fee was $65 – this was a huge savings!

2. Mail your entry form – has become the ticket master of endurance sports. I understand charging a fee for convenience but this is getting out of hand. The charge for signing up early for the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is $7.95 ($95 + 7.95 = $102.95). That is an additional 8%. When I was registering for the 70.3 New Orleans the active fee was an additional $15. Always print out the registration form and stick it in the mail. Even better, split the stamp with your racing buddies!

3. Pick a ‘non-branded’ race –

Look, the WTC (ironman) and the competitor group (rock ‘n’ roll marathon) put on a great race – but you pay for it. The Baton Rouge Beach Marathon is $65 (with pre-race dinner) and the First Light Marathon in Mobile is only $45. For iron distance triathlons, you have the Great Floridian and the beach to battleship race just to name two. These races are 40 – 50% cheaper than a branded event. On top of that you do not have to register a year in advance!

4. Car Pool –

Since you have already talked someone into racing with you (you saved the money on the stamp) you might as well split the gas. Over the winter I raced an aggressive schedule of something like 7 races in 9 weeks. I did not do a single event alone. Besides enjoying the company of my buddies, it really cut down on the cost of the day trips. At most races there were at least 2 or 3 of us. The trip would only cost a few bucks or a lunch or something for the driver. I think I traded the same $10 bill with one guy three times!

5. Pick nearby races –

Since you are driving it is better to pick races close to home. The price of a race starts to become insignificant when you factor in the cost of a hotel room in a major metropolitan area. Now you are looking at  > $100 per night plus $30 for parking.

6. Share a room –

This goes back to the car pooling. It is not much of a step up from sharing the open road to sharing a hotel room. This will cut your cost by a huge amount. Even better, stay at a friend’s house when you travel. I have made some connections near many of my race venues. Besides saving the cost of a hotel you get a home cooked meal and all of the race prediction smack down you can handle. It really is a lot more fun to stay with friends. However, you had better be prepared to have your friends stay at your house when the big race is in town. In fact for one of the New Orleans races there were about 5 of us staying in a friend’s parent’s empty house (tough housing market but the house has since sold). Sure we had to bring air mattresses and stuff but the house was quiet, clean and free.

7. Eat your own food –

People love to eat on the road. It is an easy way to blow your diet and a wad of cash. Let’s face it – restaurant food is always going to be bad for you and expensive. Hopefully you have gone with one of the previous scenarios and you are either making a day trip or staying with friends. But if not, then you should pack a lunch, a dinner and breakfast for the next day. You are going racing after all so food should not be a high priority. You really do not need that huge bowl of pasta (or the beer that goes along with it). I take a couple of granola bars for the drive, a sandwich or two for dinner and some instant oatmeal for breakfast works out great. You can also select races that have a pre-race dinner. The Baton Rouge Beach Half and Full Marathon will feed you the night before the race.

8. ‘Priceline’ the hotel –

You don’t always have to use Priceline to book the hotel. In fact, many hotel chains have a best price guarantee when you book through their website. But I do use Travelocity or Orbitz or Priceline to find the hotels that are of the quality and price that I am willing to pay. I almost always just use the services to find the ‘best deal’ before booking through the hotel website.

9. Stay at a hotel away from the race venue –

The host hotels are way expensive. If you do not mind walking a couple of blocks you can save a lot of money. For the Mardi gras marathon I was in a hotel about a half mile from the race expo and ¾ of a mile from the race start. I felt that I was in town to run a marathon so a mile or two of walking was not going to kill me. I was able to get my room for just under $100 for the night. On top of that there was curb side parking. This saved another $30.

10. Pick the “no T-shirt” option –

This really only applies to small local races. If your closet is anything like mine then it is packed with t-shirts that you do not wear. There is nothing wrong with these shirts but they are a waste of resources and a waste of your money. There are just not that many 5k shirts that wow me enough to wear them on a regular basis. I wish all local races had a no T-shirt option. They would only have to deduct $5 off of the registration – it would be a win-win situation.

Using these tips you can really save a bundle! Depending on the amount and type of racing that you do it is easy to spend thousands of dollars. Racing can require a big budget. But, you can have the experiences that you want without breaking the bank.


Big Daddy Diesel said...

The last 3 cost saving post are pure genious. THis stuff takes years to figure out on your own, thanks for sharing.

Matty O said...

Great list! I have been finding out a lot of these things the expensive way. I was actually eying up the battleship ironman a few weeks ago :)

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Fantastic post! Good things to think about!

Emz said...

This was EXCELLENT. THANK YOU!! I always use tip #8 --- love priceline!!

Jon Gilchrist said...

this is the first eyar I'm taking costs savings into consideration for racing...thanks for the free info my friend

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

Great tips MacGyver! It makes me ill sometimes to see the price of triathlons. I have found some that are non-usta sanctioned so they are less expensive and have great feedback when I've researched them. I chose the Great Floridian as my first iron distance b/c iron distance is iron distance regardless if IM is in the title or not. When I cross that finishline come October 23rd, I AM AN IRON(wo)MAN!