This blog may create more questions than answers, but at least you will be asking the right questions.  First off, every race is different.  Different numbers of participants – different distances – different provisions for the runners – different locations and frankly different runners each play a part in the registration price.

For example, two of my favorite races in the U.S. are The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon and the Bloomsday 12k in Spokane.  The pricing structure for each event could not be any different, but once you look inside the event you realize why each event is priced so differently.


The Kauai Marathon can cost you up to $200.  This is a 2000 person event in one of the most beautiful places in the world, you receive an aggressive swag bag, name brand running shirt, tons of free beers at the ocean front after party, and it just feels VIP all the way.  The money made beyond that goes to local charities, but most is spent on the runner’s experience.

The Bloomsday 12k keep their price at $17 at their introductory level and they have no intention of changing that fee in the near future.  This is a hometown race that brings out over 30,000 runners every year.   Due to their massive volume of runners and commitment to make it affordable for everyone, Bloomsday has maintained the best deal in road racing.

Both events are priced correctly based on the event’s targeted runners, the distance, and the race’s deliverables.  Your event will likely fall in between, but the keys to specific pricing will be the following:

1. Setting an intro price that boosts early registrations and gives you cash flow to spend on early advertising initiatives

2. Setting a 2nd tiered price that is high enough to create a sense of urgency and another boost before the price increase

3. Finally setting a higher race weekend rate that discourages late registrations.

For example: Hobby Joggers 5k 

Intro: $25

2nd Tier: $32

Race Weekend: $40

The idea is to push as many people as possible into the intro and 2nd tier pricing so that you have created a feeling of urgency, while minimizing your sign ups race weekend.  Registrations race weekend hurt you opportunities to properly order shirts, medals, food, etc.  Further, you want to drive those numbers early to create sell-out urgency as well.

Price your event for your event, set reasonably low intro prices that will honor your loyal following, and then set some tiers for urgency.


Brandon Laan

Brandon is a dad, runner, race director and endurance industry specialist. He spends the majority of his time coaching the sales team at Race Roster while co-directing The Rock The Road 10K. He spent his undergraduate days at Western University before fleeing to Hawaii Pacific University for graduate school. He recently pushed his twin girls, Emma and Sydney to a 1:14 half marathon and is a former winner of The GoodLife Toronto Marathon and Silver Medalist at The Canadian Marathon Championships.