Friday, April 4, 1997

Running Financially Sound

People often ask me how I afford to run 2-3 marathons per month, especially when that involves flying all over the US. I've been pulling together a few tid-bits to help if you want to start traveling a lot to run, or even if you are just planning a single running adventure... hope it helps!

(Click the Pink links to bring you to the various sections)
1) Sell a kidney! You only need one to run with!!! Ok ok I'm JK... but it would definitly cover at least one entry fee (don't judge me... you know you were thinking it too!)
2) T-Shirts, dixie cup, and gotarade fees... Registration!
3) Planes, Trains and Automobiles... Getting There!
4) Hotels, Motels, and... Walmart parking lots??? Lodging!
5) General Travel Ideas

6) Or you can just win all your races and use the winnings to pay for the next one. When that starts to happen, let me know-- I'll be your manager!

1) Register Early! Keep an eye on their website and see when they indicate the fees will go up.
2) Running Giveaways—We all love the freebies in our race goody bags, but next time you’re hunting for your free samples of GU, Skin Lotion, & Body Glide, take a look at those funny papers that usually float to the floor or garbage. Those are ads for different races and a lot of them have discount codes.
3) Join groups that have discounts for their members
~ Marathon Maniacs
~ 50 State Marathon Club
~ Jeff Galloway (usually local races)… to name a few.
4) Discounts! Use a search engine with the name of the marathon and “discount.”
5) RockNRoll—Never pay full price for a Rock N Roll marathon—there are always discounts to be found.
~Places to find: Google the Name, Runners World, Race Ads
6) Pace! If you’re planning on doing a lot of marathons and don’t want to race them all, volunteer as a pacer. Write to the race director and ask if there is a pace team/leader and their contact information. The sooner the better!

Your Car:
1) First, if you're traveling within 5 hours, drive! Gas has gone down, but the airlines act like it hasn't... leaving a car as the best option!
~ Don't like to drive far? Bring a friend! It's a great way to get them into marathon running... there is nothing more inspiring than actually seeing the finish of a marathon
2) Check the avg price of Gas in the areas you're going. If you're going to a bigger city marathon, plan your fillups in the burbs or highway on your way in.

Other Cars:
1) Have a Clunker? Gas too much? Look at car rentals- they may be cheaper than a flights.
~ Note: If you're going outside of the initial rental state there are usually additional insurance fees that they may or may not tell you abous. Advice? You don't have to tell them where you're going!!! Just beware, if you get into an accident in Wyoming and you rented in New Jersey they MAY figure you out!
2) Check your Business Perks! A lot of larger companies have set fees with certain rental companies. You don't have to be traveling for business to use those. I would, however, advise NOT using your coporate card to rent a car for a marathon... tsk tsk.
3) Keep an eye on that Mileage! A lot of rentals have a limited number of miles. Most are $0.25 per miles after and that can add up.
4) Fill your own Gas Tank before you return. They usually offer you a low price for a FULL tank fillup, but you're not likely to come back completely empty.

Air Transport...
1) So you're going more than 5 hours away? If not, you obviously did not read the first note! SCROLL UP!
2) Timing: Plan about 2 months ahead. Any more and the airlines still have they're original prices and will likely go down. Any less and seats start filling up-- when that happens, the airlines pull their 'deal'-- pssh, deals?? Ok, what they call deals.
3) Price/Timing: Prices tend to drop Tues-Thurs. If you see a price on Sunday, it will likely be $25-$100 cheaper the next Wednesday.
4) If you haven't been, GO! It consolidates all the big sites that typically have the same prices anyway. There are a few they don't pull from (cheap, but you'll likely see the best prices here.
~Also, If you're going to a small city/area, they have a quick airport search on the front page to see all the airports within a range you specify. This can also be a way to find alternative airports if the main one is giving you no luck. On the front page, select the "to" link.
5) DON’T check bags if you can help it. Bags are going up to around $15-$20 to check. If you MUST check, check ONLINE—there is usually a $5 discount vs. scheduling the bag at the airport. Packing Considerations…
~ Do you have special pre-race drinks to bring? Coconut water, pickle juice (that’s right, PICKLE JUICE), etc?
~ Electrolyte packs: They come in powder form for a reason, bring them that way and put them in empty water bottles. When the race is over (or right before) fill it with water.
~ Gels: Deo & body glide? Get them in small enough containers

Where to Stay…
1) If you’re trying for the 50, reach out to friends and plan your races around the cities that you have friends located. You will not only be offered (likely) free room, but you’ll have your very own built in fans! Oh yes, they’re getting up at 5am and going to the start—they’ll thank you later.
2) Read your race’s website! They usually provide a list of accommodations with discounts, and usually there is a host hotel—but those are discounts on fairly expensive hotels. However, its also usually the location for the expo, free shuttles, and start and/or finish. Weigh your options!
3) Shuttle anyone? If you’re looking for hotels through sites like, they will let you know if there is an airport shuttle. You can save big here by avoiding taxis and rental cars.
4) Free Bfast!? Oh yes! Most of them are continental breakfasts, but what more do runners need? Bagels with or w/o Peanut Butter (check), bananas (check), Juice/Water (check), cereal (check)…. Get my point?
5) Timing: Hotels on priceline/Travelocity/Orbitz/Kayak, run about the same way planes do—look on Wednesdays and Thursdays for price drops.
6) Don't want to waste money on a hotel and a car rental? Follow what Greg does and utilize a walmart parking lot. Bring some blankets and pillows and pass out-- I would suggest doing this in an SUV for comfort, unless you're a little person like me. I could probably fall asleep in a smart car.
~Note: Greg has had an incident with a street sweeper going through at early hours of the morning... very loudly!
7) To Sum it up, if you’re looking for a hotel try to find a reasonable one with…
~ Free Airport Shuttle
~ Race Start Shuttle Available
~ Free Breakfast
~ Marathon Discount
~ Pool or Jacuzzi is an added bonus

General Travel Ideas
(Some tips to keep in mind)
1) Corporate Perks! A lot of larger companies have corporate perks for travel. You don't necessarily have to be traveling for business purposes to use these!
2) Doubles & Triples. Some websites (like 50 States club) provide lists of double marathons-- 2 in 2 days!
3) Credit Card Perks-- Utilize credit cards that provide points for travel. A good one is a travelocity credit card.


  1. AMAZING advice.. Thank you! I will be checking in on these tips once I plan my first out of state race..

    I plan to run in Idaho next year. The race is 40 minutes from my inlaws and just a 5 hour drive from home. So gas and the race fee, works in my budget :)

  2. Great advice! I've made it a personal goal to do at least one race in a different state every year. This is great info to go by!

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