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Create a Race Budget: How To Budget Your Races

Updated: Aug 27

Run Races On A Budget

You're already a runner, and now you want to take your training to the next level by signing up for races.

First, Congratulations!

That's an amazing accomplishment! But what do you do when your first race is quickly approaching? You need to learn how to budget for races if you want to maintain your running habit and make sure you can afford everything that comes with racing. So let's dive into exactly how that works.

Why Is A Budget Important?

The easy answer, save money. Who doesn't want to save money?

If you are a new runner and don’t have much experience with registration fees, it might come as a surprise. You're probably thinking that registering for a 5k or 10k race is going to cost $20 - $40, well I'm sorry to tell you but it's a little more expensive than that.

There’s no way around it: races do charge a lot of money for their events! If put in place a budget you're comfortable with that coincides with your race goals, then paying those high registration fees won’t seem as scary—and in fact, might even seem quite reasonable!

First Order of Business: Funding

1. Set aside a fund for races. This can be a specific amount of money, or it can be a percentage of your monthly income.

2. Decide how much you want to spend on races each year—or over the next five, ten, or twenty years.

Second Order of Business: Goals

Without goals in place, it can be hard to keep yourself on track and motivated over the long term. If your goal is to run a marathon in under five hours, then that's what you should be working toward—and not just any marathon, but this specific one, whether it's next month or next year. Knowing why you're training will help keep things in perspective when the going gets tough and make race day more meaningful when all those miles finally pay off.

Once you've narrowed down what kind of race(s) you'd like to do this year—marathon? Half-marathon? 10K? 5K?—it's time to make an honest assessment of how much money they'll cost and how much time they'll take up.

Write down these numbers so that they're easily accessible as we move forward through the rest of our guide!

Third Order Of Business: Expectations

Race registration fees are often higher than you expect. You should also expect to spend more than you think. Your race may be canceled due to weather, or a local disaster could delay your arrival and disrupt the race. If this happens, don't get too caught up in it—just make the most of it!

Sometimes travel costs end up being much more expensive than expected.

Take into account, drive time, gas, lodging, food, gear, parking, etc. Your budget will most likely vary from race to race but nothing crazy. Also, keep in mind local races tend to be cheaper than out-of-state ones due to travel expenses.

Fourth Order Of Business: Unsponsored Races

One of the best ways to save money on a race is to look for unsponsored races. These events tend to be smaller and cheaper, but they can also be great ways for beginners and experienced runners alike to get in some miles and have fun. There are plenty of options available—and if you're looking for something new, don't rule out trying out a new distance!

Fifth Order Of Business: Register

Time your purchases strategically. There are several ways to make sure that you save as much money as possible by timing your purchases:


Buy during sales. Many race events will have a few days or weeks before and after the race where they offer discounted prices on tickets, merchandise, and other items related to the event. If you can wait until then, do so! This way, you'll be able to save some cash on what would otherwise be an expensive purchase.


Look for coupons online first before making any purchases at all. Most stores will offer online coupon codes if you search for them online—and at places like Amazon, this can give a substantial discount off of your total cost! Just make sure that any coupons work with whatever product you're buying!

Buy in Bulk

Buy in bulk whenever possible—but only if it makes sense financially as well as space-wise (this isn't always possible). If there's something specific that is cheaper when bought in bulk but will be used up quickly enough so that purchasing additional packages isn't worth it later down the road (or would simply cost too much), then go ahead and get yourself some extra stock instead of paying full price later on down the road; just don't overdo things because sometimes "more" doesn't really mean "better."


If you have the time volunteer. This is a great way to save by earning race credit that can be used at sign-up.


We know that budgeting can be tricky, but it’s also important to have a budget. If you don’t know how much money you’re spending on races and if you don’t have something set aside for them, then it can be hard to save money or plan for them in advance. So take some time today to figure out how much cash is going toward racing this year—and why not start by setting aside $100? You can do it!

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