The Price of the Bling…..

I think we are living in a “Bigger is Better” type society where some feel the need to constantly outdo, outlast, outspend.  This mentality is starting to saturate the world of road racing.  Somebody saw this coming.  I guess, we should have seen it coming too since the size of local road races keep increasing on an annual basis.  More and more people are coming to the running arena each and every day. This an amazing thing and I’m proud to be part of such a growing community but with size comes diversity.  Each and every runner wants something different from their race experience  .….  and big business is cashing in on those desires.

  • Big, Sparkly, Heavy Finisher Medals
  • Bands & Live Entertainment on course
  • Themed Races:  Color, Mud, Chocolate, Wine, Beer, Women Specific
  • Finish Line Celebrations
  • Big Expos
  • Multiple Race Distance Options
  • Expensive SWAG:  Sweatshirts, Jackets, Blankets


All of these “big, awesome, cool” things come with a price tag.  Yes, your bling is costing YOU money and it’s costing me extra money too!   I like to run.  I like to race.  I like to race a lot.  However, now that we have commercialized road racing, the cost has gone up and some can’t afford these extra expenditures.  And let’s be honest, what are we doing with all this shit?  We are paying big money to clutter our house with advertisements of a race gone by.  Yes, all that “stuff”  they give us has their name on it.  They are advertising every day right in our homes, in our offices, everywhere we go wearing their gear and when we keep looking triumphantly at the “bling”. 

I’m not saying the bling is bad.  I understand that some want/need that to motivate them.  Whatever it takes to motivate you is a good thing.  But please know that each time we sign up for one of these bigger/badder races, it comes with a cost.  One that is beyond the initial financial obligation but more importantly, we are setting a precedent for the direction of future road racing.  Think about what the bling means to you.  Think about where you want road racing to be in 10 years.  Think about who wins when we spend. 

If you want to have access to some smaller races, with a lower price tag and less “stuff”, then don’t forget to throw some $$ toward these types of races this year.  Otherwise they may not be there next year, or the year after, when you decided that you’ve already done that really big, really cool race that costs a ton of $$.  Let your friends know that you are opting out of Big Race X this year in lieu of Small Race Y and I bet they will join you!  The more the merrier right?  That’s how big business got us in the first place but we can take it back and CHOOSE to support small races too.  Try it.  You might like it.

** Small Races are Cool Too ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

24 thoughts on “The Price of the Bling…..

    • I agree. When I started running just 2 years ago one of my major motivators to train for the half marathon distance was to receive a medal. Since that time races of much shorter distances have sprung up everywhere with medals . Times have changed.

  1. Exactly why I am doing Tinley Running O the Green instead of the Shamrock Shuffle this year. I would rather do a run where I can park for free, get it done, and get home within a couple of hours vs. at least 1/2 the day or more…..

    • STEP off my Shamrock Shuffle! LOL! I have a sentimental attachment to that race and I hope to never have to give it up. It’s an entire weekend where I celebrate love, life, friendship & running. Sentimental. There always has to be an exception to the rule, right? 🙂 And the Shamrock was big before big buisness even knew there was a market for road racing.

  2. kinda like supporting small business rather than big box wal-mart all the time. small races (and small businesses!) do so much more for our local community than any big race or big box store.

    PS–I like the small races better anyway. 🙂

  3. Yes yes yes yes yes, you know I agree with you wholeheartedly and I’ve posted about this before!! But I think the main point is the more we support the expensive races with the expensive bling/swag, the more race directors will assume that’s what we want. And races will get more and more expensive and many of us will get priced out of them altogether.

    I’m also annoyed with the mindset that every.single.event needs a medal. It doesn’t. They could do away with finishers medals and I would still do their races. I care more about my experience (is the course safe? well marked? ample aid stations?) and my finish time than the bling and swag.

    • I know some races have started going a la carte – base price for the race, and you can pay more if you want the shirt, or want to be “VIP” – I appreciate that it’s optional. So if you do race just for the bling, you can still get it, but if you don’t, you don’t have to pay for stuff you don’t want.

      • Nice option! I also like when I can opt out of a race tee. I know lots of people really like those too but for me, I don’t usually wear them so its a waste to me. Aby wears them to bed or I donate them.

    • My necessities come down to chip timing and water. Everything else I can supply on my own. I don’t like the idea “fun” runs where you can run but don’t get a time cuz it was for fun. I run every day for fun so don’t need to pay money and drive downtown to do that. And water, while I don’t normally need it for less than a half, is for safety and certainly a necessary in the hot weather even for short races.

  4. I think this is a great mentality. It seems like more and more “bigger” races seem to be getting kind of greedy with the races prices but they are still selling out so they keep charging the same price tag (or more). There are some big races that I enjoy but I also really love a good small town race. It is nice that we live in an area where we have the option of either one (or, if you’re Nicole Fritz, both).

    • I love that Nicole runs ALL the races. As many as she can sqeeze into a weekend. I’m super envious. I seem to remember a couple years ago she did 3 races in one day. An early morning 5K, then the a stair climb race in the city and then a 5K in Crown Pt in the afternoon. It wouldn’t even occur to me to try something like that. 🙂

  5. You are preaching to the choir – i LOVE small races. At the 5k i did in zion, i literally parked next to the start line. That is priceless my friend. This year is the year of small races for this girl.

  6. I concur mostly…too much stuff that makes the costs high. Blings for marathon or longer ultra distance…definitely like to have those. Can do without all the shirts. Last year I took all my race shirts and had them made into a BIG blanket. The advertisements on back…cut out and scrapped! Don’t need medals or cheap plastic trophies or shirts for half marathon or less race distances. Are there any races locally that don’t have all the swag and are cheap? Can think of one of them….Turtle Ten Miler….I believe it was $5 or less to run it last time….and you got pancakes afterwards! Of course when I first started the marathoning…the more bling and swag the merrier. Over the years accumulating so much…can do without most…just a bling for those marathons I give my all too!

    • We tons of local 5Ks that are between $20 and $30. That’s a steal in my opinion. Once we go longer, it’s difficult for the race to be pulled off for so little money. I think the Palos Half is reasonable since I can drive there in a half hour. I always sign up during early bird so I think I paid maybe $60 or $65 this year. That’s not cheap but its not too much considering I don’t have to pay for parking to get my packet and then pay to park again on race day. 13.1 Valpo is also cheap, starting at $30-$35. Crossroads of NW IN marathon is $80 and early bird is closed. I hope other people chime in as to cheap races they have found.

      • Considering there are plenty of half marathons pushing close to $100, the $60 races seem cheap and anything less feels like a steal. I think last year the South Holland Heritage Haul was $45 and the Cal City Mini (half) was $30. I have never done either, but I have those on my list of races to keep an eye on for 2013.

        I might do the Running O’ the Green 8K in Tinley and I believe it’s $19 … $16 if you don’t get the shirt.

      • Calumet City half was $25 (preregistered) last year. Run through neighborhoods, close street (free) parking to start, volunteers yell out split times, cotton T shirt, small medal, raffle prizes, a little reminiscing of my childhood and just a friendly, fun event. Great course to PR on and I find it’s a bargain for a 1/2! Consider running it in September.

  7. Not that I’ve run too many races, but after I did the Hot Chocolate, I decided to write off all “those kind” of races for awhile and support local ones. Hence I’m doing the Tinley Running O the Green, the Tiger 5K, and the Palos Half. I’m going to seek out the small races this year rather than the fancy ones. I was more impressed with the Palos Turkey Trot and the Kankakee Jingle Bell than the Hot Chocolate.

  8. Amen. I will confess that I do like the large race experience, but they don’t always have to come at a high price. Sure, Chicago and New York are becoming insurmountably expensive, but there are still big cities out there with big, pompous marathons under $100. Maybe not for long, but they’re still there!

    That said, many race organizations are for-profit and want as many people participating as possible. It’s therefore important that the serial runner look outside his/her usual circuit and support smaller, inaugural races.

    For everyone else though, I recommend looking at trail races. They’re made for the bare-bones crowd who like nice scenery, spartan organization and the simple thrill of running.

    Great post 🙂

  9. Fritz, this is why I love, love, love the Chicago 50K ($35) and the Chicago 50/50 ($50/50M). All the sugary/salty shit I can eat, no clocks (except for at the finish), volunteers check runners in at checkpoints, anyone can jump in and run miles with you and just an all around great event. Hubby and I like to run races and it just gets too expensive to register both (which is why I am bowing out of Chicago this year in order for him to run and I am running Prairie State instead). By the way, if I can run a 50K & 50M, you definitely can and will beat me by at least 1.5 hours!

  10. I’ve been running a few months -almost a year- and I’ve done 5 races. All of them were fun, but the Hot Chocolate was just too much. I enjoyed the shirt and the camaraderie, but…just too much. The Matteson Dash Into The New Year was great to do after that huge scene. I’m doing my first Half at the end of April in Champaign where I went to college, and I wanted to do the Rock and Roll here in Chicago because it looks like fun, but I bet the ease of the Illinois -parking, packet pickup etc.- will make me think long and hard…

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