The dictionary definition of Passion is “a strong and barely controllable emotion.” That’s a pretty good definition. There are many things I am passionate about, but the focus of this post is my passion for races.

Having passion about an activity is a great thing. You are much more likely to stick with an activity when you have a “strong and barely controllable emotion” about it. However, you have to be able to fund it. Anyone who knows me knows I love doing 5k races. I’ve been doing them for several years now and have come up with ways of funding my passion without breaking the bank.

Now, running is probably one of the least expensive ways to work out. There are no gym fees or monthly dues coming directly out of your checking account. You can run for free in your neighborhood or local park. You don’t need to invest in extensive equipment, just a good pair of running shoes. You need comfortable clothes to wear: t-shirt & shorts in the summer and pants & jackets in the winter. There are plenty of thrift stores around that sell slightly used athletic wear you can buy on a dime (not literally but pretty cheap:) You also acquire plenty of t-shirts when you run races. I have more t-shirts than I will ever wear. There are lots & lots of running gadgets you can put buy if you want to, but they aren’t necessary.

What is necessary, for me, is to participate in races. That’s the fun part of running. That’s why I do it. Now, this can get expensive. Registration fees for 5k’s can run between $20-$50, depending on several factors, i.e. location, size, sponsor, swag, etc. Most races I do are around $25-$30. Those are typically 5k’s. The cost goes up for 10’s, 15’s, Half’s & Full’s. (I’ve never done a distance higher than a 10k, so I can’t speak to financing those distances.)

Ok…to funding:

Early Discounts. Most all races offer early registration discounts. The timing may differ, but typically there are registration tiers. Example: $20 before X-date, $25 between X & X date, $30 week of race & $35 race day registration. If you are sure you want to do a race on a certain date, registering early can save you some good coin. Be careful, however, because many fees are non-refundable. If you date isn’t solid and you can’t make it, you will most likely lose the money. I like to use the websites, and, of course, to plan my racing calendar.

Specials. I have found that with some of the bigger and/or national races, the sponsors will throw out specials even after the early registration period has past. Some have “last minute” specials or attach specials to a holiday like Memorial Day, July 4th, Black Friday, etc. The best way to keep up with these offers is to follow the race event on social media or email updates.

Volunteer. It takes a lot of people to pull off a successful race. Volunteers are needed before, during and after. Some race companies (like Five Star NTP) will exchange volunteering for future race entry fees. Since Five Star is my favorite local race company, this has saved me lots of race money over the years. Volunteer jobs include helping with set-up/take-down, registration, water stations, etc. This also gives you an opportunity to hang out with some really cool runner-people! Many of the bigger/national races use Ambassadors to help promote the race before, during and after in exchange for free race entry. The best way to find out about how to become an Ambassador is to look on the race website.

Group Discounts. If you like to run with friends, co-workers, running group, etc., you can save money on race entry fees. Many race companies offer discounts to groups, for example, Five Star (again, my favorite:) offers percentage off discounts based on the number of people in the group.

Repeat Customer. Just like other businesses who appreciate loyalty with coupons, discounts, etc., some running companies do as well. Many will send a race entry discount code to previous year participants. You then enter that code when you register for a percentage off the fee. I love discount codes!

These are some of the ways that I know of to save money on races. There may be even more I’m unfamiliar with. Please share any I missed. I hope these are beneficial to anyone who loves doing 5k’s as much as I do!

Happy Running!