Running road races, or competing in triathlons or bike races, can get to be pretty expensive. I have participated in races from a wide range between being free and costing me over $100. The average cost of a 5k or 10k race these days seems to be about $20. The marathons I run tend to cost around $70 on average, with the large ones like Boston or New York City costing upwards of $100
These race fees can add up fast, and really need to be budgeted for. You can often save a few dollars by pre-registering for a race, but then you risk the loss of your entry fee if you can not compete for one reason or another. It is certainly worth it to the race to give the discount for early registrations, as they can much better plan ahead for the race if they know approximately how many people are going to arrive for the starting line. Some races close registration in advance of the race, such as the Beach to Beacon and most of the larger marathons. The race gets many more people attempting to register than the race course can support, so registration can close months in advance of the race.
Many races give away free t-shirts to people that pre-register as an incentive. Other races give away free t-shirts no matter when you pay for the race. Sometimes the early registrations can get other goodies in their bags along with their race numbers and chips.
Proceeds from race registrations usually go towards a charity. Costs that are eaten up by the registrations include the timing chips and computer equipment to run them, licenses and fees from where the races are being held, any food or water that is not donated by sponsors, and fees for local police departments to provide support along the course.
In the past year, I have spent over $550 on race registrations. I race on average once or twice a month, and about half of that was for the Vermont City Marathon and for the New York City Marathon that I am running this Autumn. About how much do you spend each year on races?