Sunday, February 25, 2018

Get it done!

On Sunday, February 25, 2018


Writing a newspaper column about running means that I am often approached by race organizers asking me to promote their event.  When I ask for details I am faced with a disappointing decision.  Is this a race I should tell my readers about?

Is your race sanctioned?  Is your course certified?  Will it be in the New Balance grand prix?  If the answer is no, then I have to wonder if the organizers really want to put on a quality race that will please and attract the runners.  I don’t want to send them to an unorganized, uncertified, unsanctioned event with no grand prix points.

Sanctioning with USATF, the national governing body of the sport, has a cost.  That sanction though covers the event’s host location, such as a school, or church, and the town in which it will be held.  This sanction insurance is very inexpensive as compared to the prices of most event insurance policies.

Any athlete who is a USATF member and is injured while participating in a sanctioned event will be eligible for secondary medical insurance coverage for the injury.  Think that is not important?  A New Jersey USATF member was injured at a non-sanctioned event last year.  Her medical costs were not covered.

Sanctioning a race in New Jersey means that the local USATF association will have the race listed in its race calendar.  This is important if the race is using a race timing system that is not well known in the area.  Runners in New Jersey know to check the CompuScore and Best race timing website for races.  A start-up timing site will go unnoticed, but if the race is sanctioned the runner can see it at the USATF calendar.

By far the most compelling reason to not only sanction a race, and to get the course certified is to place it in the New Balance grand prix.  Yes, that costs money.  A course certifier will charge for certifying the course and it might be several hundred dollars and the longer the course, the larger the fee.  But the certification remains valid for ten years, so a good accountant will pro-rate the cost over ten years.  If the fee is $300.00 then the cost per year is $30.00.

Now here’s where it gets tricky.  You pay the sanction fee based on the number of runners you attract.  The New Balance grand prix is $ 75.00 if you are holding just one race, $ 100.00 for two.
How many more runners do you need to attract in order to benefit from putting the race in the grand prix?  Let’s just say that your pre-entry fee is $ 25.00 and you give the USATF member a discount on the pre-entry, so let’s say that the average fee – adding together pre and post entries and dividing by the number of runners is $26.00.  I said it was tricky but let’s go with it.

So, your costs are $ 30.00 for the certification, $ 220.00 for the sanction and $ 75.00 for the grand prix for a total new cost of $ 325.00.   Now divide $ 325.00 by $ 26.00 and you know that you need to attract 12.5 runners. Go ahead and say the average entry fee comes out to $24.00, so you need to attract 13.5 runners.  In this area where local runners won’t waste their energies on non-grand prix races, it’s a no brainer.  In fact, here’s another tip - there are runners who won’t go to a race unless it is timed by CompuScore or Best.

If the race is in the late winter, or early spring it’s a double no-brainer.  Runners want to get to the grand prix races early and often.  They may have better races later in the year, but there is no guarantee that injuries won’t pop up.  The early races are insurance against injury lay-offs.

If you know someone who is talking about putting on a race in the state, share this column with them.  Tell them, “It costs money to make money.”  It is sure true in New Jersey road racing.

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Race Results can often be found at or at
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

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