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Talking point

Will runners pay the price for race events on Merseyside? 

The entry fee for any race is an interesting point of discussion. Take the London Marathon or Great North Run or any other top end event attracting mass participation. It would seem that by comparison they can charge what they like and still sell out. But that principle gets weaker the further down the event scale you go.

Looking at local events, the Liverpool Half Marathon charges a £15 entry fee - but would runners tolerate an increase on that? I suppose it depends on how keen people are about their running and what 'value' they place on any given event. This particular event delivers excellent value for money and I would suggest is correctly priced - but what about some of the smaller races? 

Events attracting numbers in the hundreds rather than the thousands are very much under pressure to survive, especially if they use public highways. Increased Traffic Management costs coupled with Police charges, payments for all logistics including toilets, First Aid, marshals, barriers, cones and a host of other requirements are conspiring to push up the cost of simply staging events. Add to that the expectancy from runners regarding medals, t shirts, goody bags and any other 'freebies' it is easy to see why some races are struggling to survive financially. 

For example, the recent Santa Dash event cost more than £25,000 just to create a course of three miles, Traffic Manage and Police. That accounted for more than half the entry fees and the Santa suits still had to be purchased and posted out. T shirts, medals and a goody bags had to be provided and the event had to be administered (And for just £10!).

Runners often assume just because sports brands are involved the events are well funded. This is not necessarily the case. In fact at the time of writing there is no sports brand support for six of the eight main events in the city.

The two exceptions are the Half Marathon (adidas) and the Hydro Active Women's 5K (Puma) both of which are managed by the London Marathon Company. All other events have so far been passed over. It is not for the want of trying I can assure you! You would also assume that local businesses would be keen to get involved, No. It is extremely difficult to encourage sponsorship in road running for a host a reasons and the main events (London Marathon events excepted) are having survive on entry fees and modest support wherever it can be secured.

So, the answer would seem to be that in order to survive, let alone develop, events need increased participation year on year. I'm pleased to report that the general pattern for entries in the main events in the city over the last couple of years has been a steady, if modest increase. That is fine for the bigger races taking thousands of entries - but spare a thought for the smaller local events the next time you pass over one of their entry forms at the next race you attend. Take part! Your entry fee may well be the difference between the race being here next year or not!

If you have any comments on entry fees for local events and what you expect for your money then please get in touch and I'll post your comments on the right here on the Runliverpool website.

Please note:

Another topic I would welcome your views on is whether Liverpool should stage a Marathon in 2008?

  • Is there a market?
  • Would anyone want to do it? 
  • Where could it be held? (Bearing in mind the comments about costs and the use of public highways!!) 

I look forward to hearing from you.


Alan Rothwell

'Runliverpool' initiative

Last published 07/09/2006 11:26:08