How Much Does It Cost to Put On a 5k?
This is hands down the first question we get asked when clients reach out. It's also one of the hardest questions to answer because of the obvious variables. However, I'm going to throw some numbers out there for you so you can get an idea of what you might be facing.
Let's talk about common basic expenses that almost every race incurs.
Plan on spending anywhere from $5-$9 per shirt depending on your vendor and the quality of the shirt.
This is a must and the pricing will have a lot to do with where you set up, what will be onsite, how many people you anticipate, among other factors. Insurance prices range from $250 limited coverage to $1500.
Police Support & Permitting
Cost for traffic control can add up fast if you are planning a course on main roads, especially if you're in a high traffic area. A common formula on police support is per officer and per car. I've seen 5ks with 6 turns cost over $1k in rates and I've had zero cost incurred simply because the local authorities wanted to help out. This is something you should research before committing to a route. Permits are required for street closures as well. While it's not often a large expense, it can be anywhere from $35-$200. Even if you run in a park, permits may be required to reserve the park for the day. Again, a small fee, but necessary.
Traffic Control Devices
Does your route require cones? Plan for about $1.50-$2 per cone if you have them set up.
If you have bathrooms onsite at a park or venue, that's a plus! But, if you have to order them, plan for $60-$90 per potty, depending on your location.
If you want your event to have the timing aspect, prepare to pay at least $500. The size of the race will affect the cost with most timers. If you plan to have thousands of runners, expect to pay thousands. Ask if timing includes bibs. If not, those can run from $30 and up based on how many and if they're custom.
How will you let people know about your event? Many events print postcards and flyers. A slim marketing budget can be a $300 expense and a cush budget can be a $2500 expense. It's all in your marketing approach.
Do you plan on having music or an event photographer to capture the race? Plan to spend no less than $200 on each and upwards of $600, depending on who you choose.
You're probably noticing by now that it all depends on the vendors you use and what you are wanting. Banners can range from $50, one-sided for a 2x4 up to $600 double-sided as a 4x15.
Not every event gives finisher's medals, but if you want to look into it, the costs are wide ranging from $2 per medal to $12 per, based on the quantity, quality and vendor.
Were you planning on giving out age group awards? How many? 3 deep? How many age groups? Male and female? Set your own budget and find an award that fits.
See why it's difficult for event management companies to give you exact numbers? There are so many factors to consider that we often tell clients to anticipate a $10k expense for a decent race. It's always great when you find ways to stay under budget!
I touched on the major expenses, but things like logos, finish lines, food, water, cups, tables and other necessary items add up along the way as well. Plan for the unexpected!
We've worked on shoestring budgets of $2500 and we've worked with budgets of $30k. Think of it like planning a wedding. How extravagant do you want to go, how many guests do you want to invite and how do you plan to pay for it?
You may not see a return in the first year, but if you can gather the other components of what makes a race successful, like sponsorship and outreach, you could be well on your way to a great first 5k!