Tuesday, December 3, 2013

NYC Marathon - Worth the cost?

Since the NYC marathon lottery is now ongoing, I thought I'd address the astronomical race entry cost of $260.

No sooner did I finish the NYC marathon than I took to my phone and sent out a few text to runners that I knew were tracking me. (Kidding - I'm a hot mess after I finish a race.  I totally incoherently stammered around for 20min like a bad zombie movie.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I craved brains at one point.)  Truth was, I knew that I had a few people that would be quite worried about me coming in 30+ minutes later than my expected time

No fewer than 3-4 immediately asked one simple question: Was it worth the cost?  Now, each of these people is a runner like I am (Read: Perverted Crazy bordering on obsessive....) so I knew they weren't talking about they heavy toll my liver paid with the NYC weekend body paid running the race.  Nope, they were talking about the $260 that I spent on the "privilege" of running THE New York City Marathon.  The true crux of the question was: Is the NYC marathon 3x more fun than any other marathon?  The crowds, the expo, massages with happy endings even the howitzer cannon at the start.....did they all combine to an over the top experience better than any other race?

Not being in the right state of mind to answer that question, (the post race "beer recovery" might have already started) I turned to the other runners around me and asked the same.  Like my initial gut reaction, no one had a firm answer of yes or no.  Everyone agreed that it was an amazing race, but at 3x the cost of most others and a severe lack of happy ending massages, the cost was nearly prohibitive.

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Of course, not only is the NYC marathon the biggest AND the more expensive, but NYC itself is one of the most expensive cities! So, the true cost of the race isn' 3x more but likely 5-6x more.  Hotels aren't $100/night like in a normal town, they are $300.  You can't really rent a car and instead are subject to taxi fares that make Whole Foods seem cheap in comparison. Of course, some of these expenses can be limited if not eliminated. Expensive hotels can be replaced by being not very choosy at clubs/bars at 3am cheaper ones combined with double the normal amount of bed-bug spray and bullet proof jackets. Taxis can be replaced with subway rides and Clorox wipes.  But, no matter how you slice it, all-in, the NYC marathon is WAY more expensive.

Of course, I'm a capitalist at heart, so I certainly don't fault NYC Road Runners for charging what they do.  They have no issues filling their 50,000 person field many times over.  Similar to Boston, the flagship race likely pays for lesser known smaller races.....that I don't get to enjoy. Bummer.

So, enough with the jibber jabber... is it worth it?  The answer that I gave to my friends was that it is a lot like a $300 bottle of wine. Is that bottle 6x better than a $50 bottle? Ehhhhhh, probably not. Most of the little things that contribute to the $300 bottle cost are likely lost on most - as they are in the NYC marathon.  However, should everyone at least TRY a $300 bottle of wine at some point in their life?  Most certainly yes.  But, like most things in life, it is all based on the flavor that you're looking for!  The marathon probably isn't worth it, no.  But it was certainly worth it at the time, and I would recommend it to others.

11 comments:

Julie D said...

NY is awesome to visit, but I don't think I'd shell to run the marathon. Beyond the logistics and crowding that would probably make my race experience difficult, I would rather just spend the money exploring.

Nelly said...

After visiting NYC for the first time in August, now I see why that marathon is the #1 marathon in the world. Just seems like the crowds are absolutely gigantic, and the scenery is likely awesome all race.

Like you say, they have no problems filling their race, so if anything they should raise the cost even further.

Gracie said...

I kind of want to do NYC someday. I do hesitate about the cost, but I also want to qualify and I don't have a current qualifier (it's like 2 years old).

fueledbylolz.com said...

Since that was my first and only marathon I have nothing to compare it too but I do think that everyone should do it once. Every year? Probably not but once.

I'm glad someone else was incoherent and confused as much as I was at the end ha ha.

T-Rex Runner said...

I would have preferred a Nene GIF, but Mama June is a close second.

Kate Geisen said...

To each their own. I barely flinch at spending near that for a long adventure race, but it's way more than what I'd pay for a marathon.

Pat said...

It was my fourth marathon and I thought it was unbelievable. It cost the three of us about $2,000 for travel, beds and what not. That's expensive, but we had a blast for 4 days in NYC. The cost of the marathon was the least of my concerns and I would do it every year, if I lived in the city. I hope to do it a couple more times before my garmin beeps 'last run'.

Mark Matthews said...

I paid double to run it since I was there the canceled year, and went back the next, but it was worth it. I've done Chicago and Boston and I have to say NY was the biggest spectacle. No way would I do this every year though. maybe once every 5 or once a decade. I saved money by going through airbnb.com which I also used for Boston and is half the cost of hotels, and you usually get a whole apartment to yourself.

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

If it's a one time event considered "lifetime" i think and compared (from what i've heard and seen) is better than Chicago. NY is still on my list and plus if you are slow like me I'll get my money's worth out of it!

The Running Nurse said...

I would pay that much...if I ever qualify!

Sue's Ramblings said...

Have you signed up for 2014? :)