I made a wishlist way back of my top ten destination races, but at the time that list had been one of those silly "what if" pursuits, especially since I wasn't really in a financial or career situation that would have allowed the travel even if my physical fitness would have allowed the distance! But now, longer races and travel for running aren't just fever dreams. I've already completed three half marathons, with my fourth just days away and a fifth on the calendar for June! There's also the Marine Corps Marathon looming at the end of October, and that will be my first real "destination" race.
The MCM will be an introduction into the craziness of traveling out of state to a massive big city race. Though I did travel out of state for the Sunburst half marathon last year, the number of people who showed up in South Bend for that series was nothing in comparison to the tens of thousands who will flock to the nation's capital in October. Race day logistics, especially getting to the starting line, are going to be a nightmare, and I've never really experienced this before. Time spent trying to get where I need to be will be the first unusual "cost" of heading to a destination race.
Actually, I'm going to be very fortunate for this race: accommodations are FREE! My brother lives in DC, and I'll be mooching off his new home for the trip, which will save me a considerable amount of money. Hotel costs are outrageous these days, and while I usually opt to stay in cheap motels rather than paying the heavy cost for a nicer room, something tells me trying to find a cheap motel close enough to DC to reach the starting line on race day in a reasonable amount of time is nigh impossible - and that's before I factor in the 30,000 other people who will be trying to get a room. Not to mention the tendency of hotels to jack up rates during major events... Yeah, staying with family is going to save me a bundle on my first major race travel experience. Thanks, bro!
Of course, that doesn't help me actually get to the race. Maybe he'll be able to help me get from his house to the starting line, but there are over 400 miles between Cleveland and DC. I could drive, and shell out big bucks for the gas while putting hundreds of miles of wear-and-tear on my car and hours of wear-and-tear on myself. Or I could fly, but something tells me airfare into DC on a major event weekend is not going to be cheap. A train to DC wouldn't cost too much... Oh, but it's a 12 HOUR TRIP. Yeah, pass. There's not really a winning situation here.
And then there's eating. We all know how important it is to fuel properly before and after a major race, and when you're at home, it's a lot easier! Dining in a different city can be tricky. You're tempted to try interesting local places, but not every option is going to meet your needs or your budget. Again, I'm fortunate to have family in town and this won't be as big a concern for the MCM, but I'm eyeing down a couple other destination races for which all of these facets would definitely become a major part of my planning. Races are expensive enough just to reserve a bib, but when you add the high cost of travel and lodging, plus concerns about food, and let's not forget the opportunity cost - using vacation days at a job or missing pay completely if you don't have vacation time - you're looking at hundreds of dollars spent on an experience. I know several people who regularly fly to Florida or California for RunDisney events, which are even more expensive than many other destination races, and I can't for the life of me figure out how they afford it!
So are destination races actually WORTH the expense? It all boils down to the individual and the event, I suppose. Would I want to invest hundreds of dollars to go run some average, local 5k somewhere across the country? Probably not, but maybe someone else would. Heading to Vegas for the Rock and Roll Marathon is a much, much bigger draw for someone like me - it's a total experience, not just showing up and running. Same with MCM: there's going to be so much going on, and the overall experience will be so much more than just 26.2 miles of pavement. To me, that all-around, all-encompassing atmosphere is going to be worth every single penny! And since I have the luxury right now of looking ahead, you can be sure I'll be setting aside a little here and a little there to make that old wishlist become a checklist!
Tuesdays on the Run are brought to you by My No-Guilt Life, Marcia's Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs! Click the linkup icon above to check out what other bloggers have to say about the costs of destination racing, and be sure to share YOUR views in the comments below!
Have you done any destination races? What was your favorite part about the experience? What was the hardest aspect of the trip to coordinate? Was it worth it in the end?