The first time I realized people paid money to run I was baffled. Why would you pay to do something you can do for free? As someone who didn’t enjoy running at the time, I didn’t understand the motivation behind organized races, especially paying to race. I also thought the race organizers had to be making a ton of money by charging people to run–which should be virtually free. But, when I started wondering, “How much is a 5k?” for race organizers I learned a lot of surprising things about marathons!
Imagine my surprise when I decided to throw a 5k and I realized it would cost well over $1,000 just to throw the race.
I have since learned that when you register for a race, you aren’t just paying to run, you’re paying for a safe course, for a community experience, to help a good cause, and to have some fun competition.
With that said, I had a super hard time trying to find out how much a race would cost to put on, so I thought I would share it here for anyone else wondering.
How Much is a 5K if You Want to Host One?
Answer: About $3,000
- City permit. For the city of Lehi, I had to pay a $20 application fee and a $100 deposit (which I still haven’t gotten back).
- Insurance. In order to attain the city special event permit, I had to buy event insurance. For the Rescue Run, our policy cost us $585 through Farmer’s Insurance.
- Facility Use. Our race started and ended at an elementary school. It cost us $95 an hour to rent the parking lot. Three hours meant $285.
- Restrooms. We had two port-a-potties on site that amounted to $220.80 altogether.
- Police Assistance. Our city generally requires at least 2 police officers for a minimum of 2 hours at $50 an hour each. Luckily, one of our personal friends is a sergeant and he volunteered his time and received permission from the city to work the event alone.
- Shirts. This item will vary based on the number of participants. Our total was $853. (We used Prodigy Promos.)
- Bibs and Medals. We gave the first 3 males and females 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place medals. Children also recieved a medal, and the first 20 people after 1st, 2nd, and 3rd also received a medal. Our total: $110.23 (We used Express Medals.)
- Race Equipment. Race blow up arch, sound system, tables, etc. $300 ( I Run Utah and Plan-it Rentals.)
- Signage. We printed 20×30 photos from Costco and glued them to foam boards from the dollar store and stakes from Home Depot. Total: $190.
- Water and bananas. We got a $25 card from Costco, the total before the card was about $36.
- Advertising. We spent $18 on a website, and then ordered shirts and mailed them out to several influencers. We also posted signs around town and left flyers at many popular locations. The total was about $300.
I hope this list is helpful to anyone looking to throw a race. While I listed most large expenditures, remember there will be various small items that can add up quickly like bags for race items, hundreds of safety pins, and so forth. I cannot stress the importance of finding sponsors enough. We were lucky enough to have several great sponsors like Foundation Chiropractic, Teton Toys, and Arches Foot and Ankle. We also received very large amount from an anonymous sponsor. Because of the combined efforts of our sponsors, they more than covered our race expenditures, and we were able to donate every penny paid by our participants to Operation Underground Railroad and then some. I consider us lucky though, because I doubt anonymous donations like that will happen for every race so you want to really start pursuing those sponsors as soon as you decide to throw your race. Overall, we were able to donate $5,892 to O.U.R. which felt amazing!
*All Rescue Run photos taken by DeAnna Adele.*
Aside from possibly wondering “How much is a 5k?”, are there any other questions you may have about running events? If so, feel free to ask in a comment below!