How Much Does It Cost to Run a Marathon?

Runners in NYC marathon
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Running is a fairly inexpensive sport, compared with pricey pursuits such as golfing or skiing that require you to fork over a wad of money every time you want to do them. All you need to run are some comfortable clothes and a good pair of running shoes, right?  Well, that may be true for the casual, recreational runner but, as any marathoner will tell you, marathon running can become an expensive hobby.

It’s impossible to give an average cost for the total expense of running a marathon because it really depends on where you live, what marathon you choose, and how seriously you want to train (i.e., are you going to hire a personal running coach?).  But here’s a breakdown of some of the typical expenses associated with a marathon to give you an idea of what to expect

RACE DAY EXPENSES

Race entry:  Less than $100 for smaller marathons; $150-300 for big city marathons

Travel:  $10+ for gas/parking/or public transportation to local marathon;  $100+ for train or airfare to destination marathon

Lodging: For destination marathons, assume 1-3 nights at a hotel (cost varies greatly), depending on how far away the race is and whether you want to stay over or go home after the marathon.

Basically, the farther away the race, the more days you'll want to stay before and after the race. If you're going to a different time zone, you may want to get to the race destination at least two days before the race to try to adjust.

Keep in mind that most marathons don't offer race bib pick-up the morning of the race, so you'll need to be close to the race destination the day before the marathon to pick up your race bib and timing device.
 

RUNNING CLOTHES & GEAR

Running shoes:  $100-120 for a good pair of running shoes; should be replaced every 3 months or so during marathon training

Running outfits: Plan to have at least three favorite go-to running outfits to get your through training - $100-$500 depending on season and stores.

Running socks$25-50 for a few good quality pairs

Sports bras:  $50-100 for at least two two quality sports bras

Running hat: $20

Running sunglasses:  $20-$300 depending on model

Running watch$50 for basic running watch to $350 for fancy schmancy GPS-enabled watch

Fuel belt or water bottle: $15-40, depending on which model you choose

SPORTS NUTRITION

Sports gels, chews, and bars$30-60

Sports drinks$30-60

RECOVERY TOOLS

Foam roller, Stick or other massage tool: $15-40

Professional massage:  $75-100

Compression socks:   $15-40

MISCELLANEOUS

Body Glide, blister Band-aids, moleskin:  $20-30

OPTIONAL ITEMS

These are some other expenses that marathoners don’t necessarily always incur but often find themselves spending money on.

Race photos:  $20-100, depending on how many you want

Souvenir race shirt: $25-50

Doctor’s or physical therapy appointments: Varies widely

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