Costly marathons

It's hard to imagine now, but it wasn't that long ago runners did not even receive a T-shirt when they signed up to enter a race. Now T-shirts, as well as other options are part of the running experience. It's a business and a big one.

So it's no surprise that marathon directors are starting to apply techniques applied in other businesses. Take the airline industry (you don't often see them used as a business model so enjoy this). You pay for you seat. You want a window or aisle seat? You pay extra. Want a drink? You pay extra. Sandwich? Extra. More legroom? Extra. Baggage? Extra. It's the same drill when buying a car. You start at the basic option and walk yourself up the price ladder as high as you want to go.

A lot of races have taken a baby step towards optional product pricing in terms of their shirts. At many races you can now pay more to determine the color and quality of the desired shirt, or you might pay less not to have a shirt at all.

But the "Chicago Marathon" has gone beyond baby steps and turned their pricing strategy into well a marathon. The Biz Runner recently registered for the "Chicago Marathon" and was amazed at the options. Let's walk through them:

It starts with your basic marathon entry for $135.

Next, they offer the "Balbo Runner Hospitality": "Participants may purchase access to the Balbo Runner Hospitality venue to enhance their marathon experience through pre-race and post-race amenities, including being in close proximity to the Start and Finish lines." Hospitality always a good idea. The charge? $75 Want your friends to join you? Another $75 each.

How about ensuring that your friends and family will be as comfortable as possible while they watch you be anything but comfortable? There's the "11th Street Spectator Hospitality": "The 11th Street Hospitality Tent offers access to comforts and conveniences that will make viewing the Bank of America Chicago Marathon a memorable experience." The cost to make your friends comfortable? $75 each.

You'll certainly be proud of your accomplishments, so the marathon offers the chance to pre-order the October 10th and 11th morning editions of the "Chicago Tribune" with full coverage and marathon result listings. They'll mail it to your address. The cost? $6 each. You can also buy MarathonFoto USB Photo Flashdrive loaded with your race photos. The cost there? $90.

You'll need to fuel up for the big day so as with most marathons they offer the traditional pasta dinner. The cost is $35 each ($15 for kids) which gets you: salads, pasta, sauces, vegetables, rolls, desserts, coffee and water served. Cash bar available.

Now that is a lot of options.

So what if you chose to purchase all available options? Let look at hypothetical situation:

Marathon fee: $135
Balbo Hospitality for you and 2 friends/family: $225
11th Street Hospitality for 2 friends/family: $150
One "Chicago Tribune": $6
One MarathonFoto USB Drive: $90
Hilton Pasta dinner for you and 2 friends/family: $105

Your Options Total: $576
Your Grand Total: $711

That's $27 per mile. So much running being recession proof. At that rate you may want to slow down and get your monies worth.

Credits - would like to thank the website The Biz Runner ( for the permission to reprint the article "The $700 Chicago Marathon Fee".

Since September 7, 2007 - © Aerostato, Seattle - All Rights Reserved.

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