The Cost of Running the Chicago Marathon 2015
No vlog today, I forgot my camera at home yesterday! Oops!
As the Chicago Marathon gets closer and I finalize my travel plans I thought it might be interesting to add up how much it cost for me to run this race as a charity runner and then compare that to how much I spent traveling to and running the Portland Marathon last year.
I hope this post is informational and interesting for anyone who is thinking about running an out of state marathon.
As most of you know I received my Chicago race entry for free in exchange for fundraising on behalf of PAWS Chicago, the midwest’s largest no-kill animal shelter.
Many of you made a donation to PAWS Chicago to help me reach my $1,000 fundraising goal. I appreciate every single person who donated – you have helped me realize my goal of running a race that is part of the World Marathon Majors. More importantly, by helping me reach my $1,000 goal together we have saved three lives!
When I first signed up to fundraise with PAWS Chicago as part of Team Paws many of you commented or emailed me to say you were considering doing a future race as a charity runner as well. At the time I didn’t have a lot of information to share with you since I was just at the beginning of my journey, but now I have a bit more information to pass on.
First, I think we can talk about the cost of running the Chicago Marathon as a charity runner. Obviously expenses will vary depending on how far you have to travel, which hotel you stay in (if any), how much you’re able to raise, if you travel alone or with a significant other and so on.
Here’s what I have spent so far, keeping in mind that this list doesn’t include shoes, fuel, coaching or any of the other things I’ve spent money on during training. I’m not including those expenses as they would be the same whether I was running out of state or not.
Additionally, since the race hasn’t arrived yet, the chart also doesn’t include transportation around the city or any meals while we’re in town for the race. It also doesn’t include all of the money I will probably part with at the race expo!
|Team Paws membership fee||$25.00|
|Hotel Room (3 nights)||$755.14|
|Plane Tickets (2)||$396.00|
|Donation to Team Paws||$135.00|
|Paws virtual 5K medals||$48.69|
To join Team Paws at the very beginning of the year I had to make a $25 donation. After that I didn’t have to contribute any money for a couple of months. I’m not sure if other organizations make you pay a membership fee.
Earlier this summer Team Paws announced the Congress Hotel as their hotel partner and offered a nonprofit rate of $219 per night (plus tax). At the time I only booked for two nights (Saturday and Sunday). Eventually I decided I wanted to fly in on Friday so I booked a third night at the Congress which cost about $245 at the rate found on Orbitz.
I could have selected a less expensive hotel, but then I wouldn’t be in walking distance of the starting line. I was willing to pay for that convenience as the last thing I want to do is get lost or feel confused on race morning. The hotel fees came out to $755 in total, definitely the biggest expense of the trip.
I ordered plane tickets for Adam and I through Orbitz because we had $9 in Orbucks available through their rewards program. Two round trip tickets from Miami to Chicago came out to $405 with tax but we paid $396 thanks to our rewards. Normally we would fly from the Fort Lauderdale airport but plane tickets were much more expensive and at less convenient times. I would assume plane tickets would vary by a lot depending on where you live.
You guys helped me raise $867 for PAWS Chicago through the virtual 5K/10K I held earlier this year, and I contributed $135 to reach the $1,000 goal necessary to secure my race entry.
The cost to enter the race as a non-charity runner would have been $185 so I did save money on my race fee. If you are able to meet or exceed the $1,000 fundraising minimum without making any contributions of your own, you would save all of that money!
The final thing I spent money on were the finisher medals I offered through the virtual race, which came out to just under $50. That was a fee I was more than happy to pay. Obviously if you don’t host a virtual race or you decide not to offer medals this is an expense you could entirely cross off the list.
In total so far I’ve spent $1359 on Chicago Marathon related activities that pertain to my Team PAWS membership status and travel expenses.
Since we’ll be in Chicago from Friday afternoon until Monday morning I expect we’ll spend about $200 eating out (possibly more, but probably not less). I’ll also likely spend at least $100 at the expo, which is about what I spent last year at the Portland Marathon expo.
I’m not sure how much I’ll spend on public transportation but I do expect to hail an Uber multiple times. It’s also possible I’ll pay to upgrade our plane tickets on the way home from Chicago. When you book plane tickets through Orbitz you can only book economy seats. You have to wait to upgrade your seats at checkin. I imagine I will upgrade if possible so I can get the extra leg room.
Overall traveling to and running the Chicago Marathon will cost me just under $2,000.
In comparison, last year I booked a hotel and two airline tickets to Portland for the marathon and my travel package through Orbitz cost $1,370.00.
We stayed at the Courtyard by Mariott Portland City Center which was within walking distance of the start and finish line. Again, we could have stayed at a less expensive hotel but I wanted to be able to walk to the start.
We flew Delta and I remember upgrading our seats on the way home, but I can’t remember how much that cost. I believe it was an additional $100 per seat, so overall my travel to and from Portland came to just around $1,500.
Adam bought my Portland Marathon entry for me as a Christmas gift but I believe it was $150. Once you include eating out, public transportation in the city and the $100 I spent at the Portland expo the total I spent to run Portland comes to roughly $2,000.
I suppose this means the general cost of running an out of state marathon is about $2,000.
While people will say that running is an inexpensive sport, I think many of us would disagree. Certainly there are ways to make it an inexpensive sport, but I like buying running related things and traveling for races. I know I can’t be the only one who feels that way!
Truthfully though, until I added up the individual costs I didn’t realize just how expensive it was to race out of Florida. I feel incredibly lucky to have the ability to travel multiple times per year and to schedule race-cations.
I think traveling for races becomes much more affordable if you space out your expenses. For instance, I didn’t pay for our hotel and airline tickets in the same month this year (although I did last year). If there is a race that you want to travel to but you’re on a budget, I would definitely recommend coming up with a plan to space out your expenses.
When you first buy your race entry fee you’ll feel pressure to book your hotel and plane tickets right away. You’ll worry that the good hotels will sell out fast, but I’ve found that’s generally not true. From talking with others I’ve learned that waiting until a month or so before the race is a great time to find good prices on hotels near the start/finish because people cancel reservations they made earlier in the year and the hotels want to fill those rooms.
I know that’s true for the hotel I’m staying in for Chicago because it listed a sell out for race weekend back in May but now there are rooms available!
I’ll try to remember to update the chart in this post after we get home from Chicago to list out our expenses while in the city to document the actual total.
If you have any questions about what it’s like to fundraise as a member of Team PAWS or what it’s like to travel for a race just let me know!
Maybe by the end of next year I’ll be able to put together an estimated cost of running an international race …. fingers crossed!
Have you ever raced as a charity runner or considered it?
What is the furthest you’ve traveled for a race?