Tips For Finding Free (Or Cheap) Races

Get the best race discounts with these tips for tracking down entrance fee and lodging deals.

Run Free!

Well, as close to free as you can get…with these tips!

Find Entrance Fee Discounts

  • Look for a community race series affiliated with the Road Runners Club of America. These low-key (and low-cost!) race series offer friendly faces and a taste of the local running culture.
  • The early bird really does get the worm! Races offer their best prices (sometimes as much as 75 percent off) to their earliest registrants. Check your dream race the day after the event for steep discounts on next year’s entry fee.
  • Stalk the UltraSignup Deals List, where race entries for 5K races and 100-milers alike are sold at steep discount on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Some race directors are willing to offer free or reduced entry in exchange for grunt work. Email the race to offer your services stuffing goody bags or working the expo for a few hours the day before the race. Volunteering can be good for your bank account and your race-day karma!
  • If your drawers are already full of free tech tees, ask the race director if you can waive those goodies in exchange for a discounted race entry. Some will subtract $5 or $10 from the registration price.

Check For The Best Lodging Deals

  • Big events often partner with large hotels to provide a special rate for racers. Still, call around before locking in your lodging: smaller, local hotels and bed-and-breakfasts may offer discounts or special amenities, like reduced pricing on a post-race massage.
  • If your race is held at a park or preserve, ask if there’s camping at the start line or at a nearby campground. Camping is cheap, fun and almost always makes race-morning logistics easier than traveling from a hotel.
  • Try the Couchsurfing app, where you can connect with vetted and verified hosts from more than 200 destinations.


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