The Boston Marathon: Breaking Down the Individual Costs of Running

Posted in Saving Money , Savings Account • October 18, 2010

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Registration for the 115th Boston Marathon has begun. While the race isn’t set to actually start until April, enthusiasts are already sprinting to enlist. Though runners who’ve endured a competitive 26.2-mile run before understand the physical toll a marathon takes, what’s mostly overlooked is the financial costs that go along with it. If you’re considering joining thousands of runners in this event, you’d better start saving early.

The Boston Marathon is arguably the most popular and competitive running event of the year in the U.S. While other major metropolitan areas have their own marathons as well–there’s the AIDS Walk Los Angeles, The ING New York City Marathon and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, to name a few–they don’t quite match the excitement and buzz surrounding the world’s oldest annual marathon. That might be because there’s actually a qualifying time runners have to meet in order to participate.

For 2011, the Boston Marathon field is limited to 22,790 runners, so the competition just to register is already tense. Runners who have met the infamously stringent qualifying time limit must pay a $130 registration fee or $180 after February 1, 2011. But that’s just the start of it. Here’s a breakdown of what costs runners should expect.

Registering for the Boston Marathon

For runners that don’t qualify under the time limit, they can choose to participate through a charity. Most organizations make you agree to raise at least $3,250 for their cause to run on their team. Some charities go above and beyond and set their minimum fundraising amount even higher. So if you’re thinking about running next year, you better get a head start on budgeting and planning who to ask for donations.

Also, most charities do charge an additional processing fee along with the minimum fundraising amount and they list that the Boston Athletics Association requires a $250 application processing fee, too. That’s $3,500 just to get your foot in the race. On the bright side, those donations are tax deductible.

Getting to the Boston Marathon

Though it’s located in Boston, the race draws participants from all over the world. In fact, international runners have to pay a higher registration fee. Last year, Kenyan Robert Cheruiyot set a new record at the race, finishing in just two hours, five minutes and 52 seconds. According to TripAdvisor, a round trip from Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya  to Boston’s Logan International would run about $1,680.

For our domestic runners, Ryan Hall of California was the first U.S. participant to finish last year. A round trip flight from San Francisco to Boston would run around $440.

Staying in Boston

If you’re a runner who’s taking the race seriously, then that means you’ll need a good night’s rest. According to, rooms of at least three stars or more within a 10 mile radius of Hopkinton–the Boston Marathon’s starting point–range from $93 to $170. Move a little over to nearby Cambridge and prices can go as high as $600 a night. It’s no wonder why most runners shack up with others to save money.

Race Prep Costs

Running is free, but if you need a little help, you can get marathon training plans through ebooks on Running Planet for around $10. You could also opt for a personal trainer at the gym. According to the National Board of Fitness Examiners, the average cost of a personal trainer ranges around $60-$70 an hour, though you could probably find one on the lower end of $25 per.

In addition, you will also need proper equipment like running shoes. You can get a decent pair for around $50 or cheaper at your local shoe store bargain bin. However, if you need the perfect pair for your feet, they could cost as much $150 or more. They may only seem like a pair of shoes, but if you’re pounding the pavement for three to five hours, the last thing you want is any discomfort on your feet.

While there are other costs that need to be factored in, such as nutritional regimen, health check ups with your physicians and other variable costs, these are just a basic breakdown of what you’d need to run the race. So far, that’s about $800 in costs on top of the registration and donations you’re spending for the race. Marathon running certainly isn’t for chumps.

In fact, there are plenty of pastimes that require an extra line in your budget. Do you have a savings plan especially for hobbies or entertainment?

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