Is the Cebu Marathon pricing itself out of the competition?Cebu Daily News
As soon as the online registration for the Cebu Marathon 2013 opened last Oct. 20, many jaws dropped at the expensive registration fees for the full marathon distance.
In 2012, runners in the 42K had to spend P1,000 (early registrants) to P1,200 (late registrants) to join Cebu ’s centerpiece run. This year, even the early birds have to fork over P1,400 and P1,800 for late registrants in the full marathon.
The runners’ complaints center around the 60% spike in registration fees and yet organizers seem to offer nothing new. As per the Cebu Marathon website (www.cebumarathon.com), 42K runners will get a limited edition New Balance singlet, finisher’s medal, timing chip, race bib, access to the pre-race pasta party, post-race refreshments, loot bag, free massage, discount coupons from stores inside the Ayala Active Zone. These were the same perks that runners got when the registration fee was still pegged at P1,000 for entry to the 42K category.
So where do (expensive) registration fees go?
Cebu Executive Runners Club’s John Pages who is also part of the race’s organizing committee since 2010 admits, the registration fees are quite expensive, but explains that apart from the singlets, medals, pre-race carbo-loading, race food and hydration for all registered participants, organizers must also pay for and feed hundreds of marshals, entertainers, and aid station personnel that man the entire 42-kilometer race course. Pages explains that unlike the weekend runs and even the other marathons in Cebu, the entire race course of the Cebu Marathon is absolutely closed to vehicular traffic. This requires more logistics, more marshals and traffic enforcers to be paid including overtime.
Pages defends the organizers from insinuations that CERC has profited from expensive registration fees. Pages clarifies, CERC does not profit from organizing the Cebu Marathon. In fact, many of its members have advanced the race expenses even without any guarantee of being repaid or getting a refund when pledges from sponsors fall through. “We had to advance the money from our own pockets… not even knowing if we’ll get refunded. With the actual income, we barely, barely break-even,” explains Pages.
Still, the rising cost of entering a road race raises concerns that the Cebu Marathon is pricing itself where runners stop coming. But CERC remains unfazed and banks the group’s goodwill with the running community not just in Cebu but in the whole country after having consistently organized excellently-managed full marathons since 2010.
Expensive fees notwithstanding, runners from Cebu and those from outside the province continue to express their intention to join the Cebu Marathon 2013 on January 13 as shown by the influx of queries on the race’s Facebook page. Runners for the 21K category have also pleaded organizers to give out a finisher’s medal in the half marathon, considering its more expensive fees compared to other 21K runs. Since 2010, the CERC have only given finisher’s medals in the full mary.
“I think it’s fair to say that we’ve always kept our promise… which is to deliver the best running/marathon experience to the participants. Also, through the years, though many have initially complained (during the registration portion) how expensive the fees are, at the end of the event, I think we’ve satisfied most participants… and they’ve felt that we’ve given them more than what they paid for,” says Pages.
While I’ve no doubt that CERC will do an excellent job in staging the 2013 Cebu Marathon, I think the best way to address the runners’ protests about skyrocketing fees is to be more transparent.
It would certainly help runners appreciate the hard work and the magnitude of the expense it takes to roll out the red carpet on race day if they realize how their fees pay for the race– beginning with how many gallons of water, paper cups, race marshals and man hours (including overtime pay) do the organizers need to pay.
A general statement saying logistical requirements for staging a top notch marathon race is very expensive is no longer enough. It would be better if CERC did an actual accounting of the costs of staging this gargantuan event.