Race processing fees

Recently I read Madeline Bost’s Running Column post about race processing fees titled “How’s that again? A fee to do it yourself?” and there were aspects of this article that bothered me.

The fact is that race sign up sites charge a fee – part of that fee is for the cost of processing credit cards and clearly the companies offering the registration sites need to make money.

It is a convenience to the race organizers because the data is easily put together in one place as she rightly points out. She then goes on to say that if you send in a paper application, the race has to pay someone to enter the data. I would argue that a lot of races are still run by volunteers, or put on by charities with employees who are probably working extra hours for no extra money to put on events like this.

The fact is that people respond to convenient ways to sign up to races, and it is often a difficult choice for the organizers whether or not to include that service charge in the fees, or to have the registrants pay the fee. The costs of putting on races seems to be on the rise, and anything that cuts into the races margins can make a huge difference. It’s particularly true when the race is for charity.

RVRR runs a Summer Series of races, and alongside the main race there are kids races. The margins are so low on this that in the past online registration has not been offered because of the fee (all other RVRR events absorb the fee in the event cost). However, each year parents ask me why there isn’t an online entry option. When I have told them about the fees, they tell me that they would willingly pay the extra not to have to print a form, fill it in and mail it. Some have missed the series sign up because they never got round to it.

It’s fair enough that people may want to save themselves money on entry if the race is asking them to pay the extra fee, but also consider whether the race is likely to have the staff to handle that data entry, or if you are just creating work for volunteers, or worse, forcing a charity to pay someone to do it for them if they do not have the resources.

I believe it will be more and more the case that races do not offer paper/mail in entry because of this, and I would be completely understanding of the reasons. I just believe it is unfair to complain about the fees without considering the reasons that the race is imposing them on the runner. With the cost of races increasing, it may simply become standard to account for these online registration costs in the price of the race.

I’m proud to say that the Highland Park Run in the Park 5k and RVRR races have tried to maintain prices year after year while absorbing the fee but as it seems to get harder and harder to cover race costs something is probably going to have to give.



Too early for goals?

As progress continues, albeit inconsistently, I want to look ahead.

So far my race plans have consisted solely of races I signed up for a while ago – The United NYC Half, The Garden State 10 miler, and The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Half. Given the distances involved and the time I have left to train, I’m clearly not going to be back to full speed before these races and realistically my goal is to get through them without hurting myself.

This week I was once again offered the opportunity to be an official blog partner of the Newport 10k, and accepting this gives me entry into the race. I would not have wanted to miss this race anyway (as I state each year, I’ve consistently run this race ever since I got involved with RVRR and my willingness to take part is not influenced by being a blog partner).

Now that this race is on my mind I am starting to consider whether I can have a true speed target in time. The race is on May 6 which gives just over 2 months. Training has been about building a base, and if all goes well, beginning to incorporate true speed work into a routine in a few weeks could work with that timing (and with the race distance).

I’ll have to see how things go over the next few weeks, but now is the time to be planning for this particularly race. So far the weather is cooperating and we haven’t had the real cold or snow that we would typically expect this time of year, so who is with me? I’ll keep my blog up to date as I prepare incorporating training ideas, so check back over the next couple of months.

If you register for the race, tell them that you read about it on this blog!


When you just don’t want to stop

Last time I wrote I was cautiously optimistic about running. Unfortunately that optimism didn’t continue. Although my ankle issues are mostly gone, a run last week caused me to take another break. This time, the same muscle tightness issues caused lower back pain. The pain started just 2 miles in to the run so it’s unclear why it happened but my calf muscles were very tight after the run.

Four days later I wanted to try to run again – I was feeling pretty good after going to a Bodyflow class (yoga, Pilates, t’ai chi mix) the day before. Perhaps foolishly I decided I desperately wanted to run the 5 miles that was my next planned step up (the distance I had planned when my back hurt). During that run I focused on trying to relieve the back pain (which was only mild) and discovered that my shoulders were often too tense, and relaxing them helped. I ended the run with some discomfort in my back, but nothing too bad (at least after stretching and rolling).

The next day, feeling overconfident, I did a couple of miles of hill climb on the treadmill in the morning and then another 4 in the evening with a similar outcome.

I did take a day off at that point, but yesterday I really wanted to get 5 miles done. Even before 2 miles into the run I could feel the lower back pain again. I’d been dropped by one group at that point but later joined up with someone else. We chatted away until he headed back and it was at that point I realized that my back wasn’t feeling too bad (more evidence that I’m not running relaxed enough perhaps?). By the time I got to 4.5 miles I started to feel pretty good and already had it in my mind that maybe I could run 6 miles so on I went.

Of course, when you’re feeling good, and there’s a predefined course, it didn’t end there and before the cut back for 6 miles I had already decided to try to complete the full 7.4 mile club run course.

Stretching, rolling, and massage have been key for me, and every day I do at least one of these. The added benefit is that I am now very close to being able to touch my toes again – something I don’t think I’ve been able to do for more than 20 years.