It’s long been said that running is one of the cheapest ways of keeping fit, after all, all you have to do is stick your trainers on and leave the house. But what if you decide to take your jogging to the next level and run a race, how much will that set you back? Last Sunday, I ran my first marathon in Brighton, so I’ve scrolled through the past four months of bank statements to find out exactly how much it cost. Of course, the smart Alec answer is: ‘It’s a lot cheaper than what the NHS pays out in liposuction’ – but I’m not going to be that person, because I’m bigger than that. So without further ado here is the breakdown:
Unless you’re an elite or qualify for good time for age, you’ll have to pay for your place in a marathon. The cost varies from race to race, with the more popular ones able to charge you a little more for your miles. I paid for a charity place on the proviso that I made a minimum of £300 for Sense. Fair dinkum!
The likelihood is that you’re not travelling alone, and if it’s not too far away and you’ve got a car – use it!
Cost: £15 petrol, round trip, London to Brighton
Parking on the day
Most marathons are run on Sundays. Most places will have a carpark, but do your research and find the cheapest spot. You might have to park a little way out, or even chance parking on a residential street. We found somewhere that was miles away, and walking there after the race was tough, but probably did me the world of good. That’s what my family said anyway. Cheap skates.
And on the sixth day, God made Travelodges. Travelodges are all over the UK, and seem to be almost as thick on the ground as Greggs the bakers (another one of my favourite places). Prices do differ from place to place. If you’re in London for example it’s £5,000. Only kidding, but you can pay about £200 for a double. Before paying £110 at Worthing Travelodge, I tried Airbnb. After accepting our booking, the owner cancelled, leaving me in a small dilemma a couple of months before the race. I recommend you go with a hotel. If you’re let down by your Airbnb too close to your race, you’ll be in trouble. Plus the beds in Travelodges were made with the feathers of 10,000 signets.
If you’re a runner/at all concerned about your fitness you’ll have a pair of trainers lurking around in your house. Whether it’s somewhere in the attic, in the dog’s sleeping basket, or all polished up in the hall, you’ll have something. But if you’re training for a marathon, you’ll need to get another pair before the race. Experts reckon each pair has 500 miles’ worth in them before you have to replace. Whether that’s canny marketing or not, I’d not wait for the shin splints to find out. Good tip for you though – don’t buy a pair fresh off the shelf, buy them online. You’ll find that in stores they’ll only show the latest version of the trainers you like, but if you search online you’ll get an older model at least £10 cheaper. I’ve been wearing Brooks Dyad trainers for years now. I had my running gait checked out in a Runners Need three years ago and I’ve bought the same model or similar ever since. So for one pair this year, the cost was £78.69. You can get them for cheaper, but I’m a size six so no such luck this time round. Buying the latest model would set you back £90.
You’ll need a running belt on your long slow run. I got a Nike one for a tenner, but there’s all sorts of brands. After running the marathon, I’d recommend you get one even smaller than the one I have and with loops from which to attach packets of gels (if that’s what you’re into).Go for a model like this one from Nike.
‘You do look like a bit of a chump in that,’ my colleague said. He was talking about my Camel backpack, a bag I used throughout the winter to run from work to home. Camel isn’t the only brand, but I think the price is reasonable at £55 and the bag has never let me down. Yes, it makes me look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but you’re running four times a week or more and you’re working 9-5, a backpack’s a really good idea.
I bought gels in bulk from Wiggle. I’ve bought them in special stores before in single packets and it’s dearer. Plan what you need in advance. Over the course of my training I got through two 20 packet boxes.
For your bits.
If you’re running a spring marathon, like I did, you’ve trained through the darkness. On the day of the race, you’ll emerge from the cold ground like a mole scrabbling desperately towards the light. And you’ll need sunblock.
I cheated a bit here. I wrote a blog post about how much I love Aftershokz and then they sent me a wireless bone conduction pair, in exchange for a review. Everybody hustling.
Don’t be a fool and pay for a running app. Go for Strava or Nike. I know there are others but I’ve not tried them. I used Strava throughout training to measure how slowly I was running.
Total cost £255.85
So there you go, for the cost of roughly three months of gym membership you never use, you could have run a marathon. Tempted?