« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Published May 30 2011

Wagner: It's hard to put price on entire marathon experience

Big races like this month’s Fargo Marathon are big money.

Last week, The Forum published a story looking at the financial statements at our area’s premier running event, which is registered as a nonprofit organization.

The story did a good job looking at how much money it generates, particularly as the Fargo Marathon has grown in popularity.

Without a doubt, we’re talking a lot of money. In 2010, the nonprofit generated just more than $1 million in revenue, including $876,980 in race registration fees, while spending $914,243 for event and organization expenses.

But another whole story could be written about what the participant receives for his or her money. In broad and simple terms, the average finisher in 2010 paid approximately:

- $4.31 for race swag like shirts and medals.

- $3.63 for charity causes.

- $1.51 for entertainment.

- 36 cents for traffic control .

Those dollar figures, calculated using the number of finishers in the adult races, don’t tell the entire story. The average runners’ cost actually is less, since the above amounts don’t include all paid participants or youth run registration.

So, for about $10, runners can show up, receive some goodies, feel good about themselves and have a safe, fun time.

In reality, much of their money goes for race organization and management, promoting a healthy runner’s lifestyle and all the behind-the-scenes work it takes to put on a major event.

It’s much harder to put a price on the way big races, like the Fargo Marathon, make us feel: the positive atmosphere, camaraderie, the experience of running with friends while being cheered by family and neighbors, the lessons learned from months of training and attaining a goal while living a healthier lifestyle.

The business community benefits, too, when you consider the metro’s hotel rooms are booked and thousands of runners spend money at area restaurants and stores.

Yes, there is still more to tell about the money behind running events and race fees, especially when our sport has seen unprecedented growth, both in the number of races nationwide and participants signing up.

As a runner, no one is forcing me to sign up for races. While I can run the roads and trails for free, I frequently choose to pay to enjoy doing something I love with other like-minded people. It’s no different than those who spend their dollars attending concerts, a game, museums or an art show.

Inforum searchword: running

Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@forumcomm.com.