We interrupt the litany of Boston tales to explore the costs of races we don’t run – either because we don’t make it to the start line or the race is cancelled.
As with any type of travel, participating in road races sometimes requires transportation and lodging costs in addition to registration fees. So, for those of us who want the max from our running budget, how do we minimize costs when the race is a no-go?
There are online registration services that provide insurance coverage for fees in some circumstances, such as injuries, but those I’ve seen don’t address cancellation of a race.
So, why don’t we get to the race start line? We’re already invested and it’s understood that race registration fees are nonrefundable. In my personal case, the most costly recent races I have missed and may miss, both in travel costs and entry fees cover both the scenario of the cancelled race (NYC Marathon) and potentially this year’s Boston Marathon; the first a race cancellation, the second an injury. (Note to self: Downhill skiing was not the wisest choice of cross-training.)
Injuries and unexpected family events are the primary reasons I have been a no show after registering for a race and I hear those reasons most frequently from running friends when they bail on a race and the registration fee and travel expenses go down the drain.
And what are the reasons that races actually cancel? In my experience, weather-related cancellations are most frequent and they make sense. I’ve been registered for races where portions of the course were under water. Adventure races aside, do you really want to be out there anyway?
The most notable weather-related cancellation, the 2012 New York City Marathon found runners from around the world either settling in for New York City shopping and shows, or more likely scurrying to find another marathon, preferably along the Eastern seaboard.
Then, there is the March 17 Rome Marathon. No, not cancelled, but Runner’s World reports the start time may be delayed from 9 a.m. to late afternoon depending on the date a papal decision is made. So, registered runners may have a little more time to lounge on the piazza sipping cappuccino before they begin their journey past the Coliseum and the Trevi Fountain.
Then, there is the previously scheduled April 10 Gaza Marathon which in fact was cancelled after authorities in Gaza determined women would not be allowed to participate. The United Nations Relief Agency then promptly canceled the marathon.
While I was looking forward to New York, I’m not enroute to Rome this year and I’m not one of the 370 women who had registered for the 26.2 mile Gaza run. But, who knows what wiles of the world will occur between the time I commit to my next race entry and the time the start whistle blows.
If someone has the answer for this frugal senior runner, please let me know. I’m daydreaming of an easy cost/benefit formula that would intuitively tell me when it’s time to hedge my bets with insurance coverage or some other method of cutting my losses. You may be saying it already exists – it’s called common sense. True, but common sense is sometimes in short supply when the lure of intriguing travel and race destinations call.