View Full Version : Result of adding $5k Cash to Purse
06-26-2008, 04:35 PM
Does anybody have experience with adding first-time cash prizes to an established local race?
We have a non-profit, certified Half-Marathon, certified 5k, and 3k Fun Walk event in Syracuse. It has garnered between 700-1,000 runners in the past few years and grows each year. We've always given out with the medals, about $3.5k in gift cards to the local grocery store chain here as part of the prizes.
Our presenting sponsor has added for this year $5,000 cash prizes, with the breakdown probably looking something like this:
1. $1,000 1. $1,000
2. $750 2. $750
3. $500 3. $500
1. $250 1. $250
We're looking to keep on the $3.5k in gift cards (which get broken down 3 deep into the age/gender categories).
Is this a sufficient cash prize purse to expect significantly increased registration? Have people seen jumps in registration numbers with a $5k cash purse? Does our breakdown of the $5k look pretty attractive and fair?
06-26-2008, 10:34 PM
Here's $0.02. Adding prize money in the amounts you propose will bring in a few fast runners, no where near enough entry fees to offset the cost of the prizes. You will get a few fast runners you never heard of. Their agents will bug you for special favors like complimentary entry, appearance money, lodging, transportation, extra money, a check before you're ready to do the awards and other "special" stuff.
That said, I don't have an answer to whether you should award prize $$ or not. It does add prestige to the race.
Been there, done that
06-27-2008, 09:43 AM
I've been observing a specific race that about 5 years ago added cash prizes, though much smaller. I think they cap it off at about $1000 total.
The first year they added cash prizes, participation was about the same. In the subsequent years, after registrations had leveled off at about 1000-1500, depending on the weather for quite a few years, they now close registration at 2500 months before the event. They also have no trouble with people they have never heard of coming in and taking their money and they don't have any agents or runners themselves asking for appearance money, covered fees, or any extras. In fact, they don't even get asked for comped entries. It's usually still the locals to that race who take home the cash prizes.
I'm quite sure that some of the increase in participation numbers are due to other things they have been doing at the same time but the cash prizes did raise their visibility quite a bit, as their local media now covers them a lot more due to the fact that it's now viewed as a professional sporting event.
I think one key to keeping out the agents and athletes who want more perks, if that is your goal, is to spread out the money. Nobody at this event gets more than $500. A pro isn't going to come in from out of town for $500 but that amount is sure to attract the attention of some of the locals.
06-28-2008, 08:43 AM
Firstly, I think that it's really impressive that your presenting sponsor is putting up $5,000 just in prize money.
As far as the impact on the race, from what I've seen, every road race that has implemented this has become more successful - either in the number of runners who participate, the finishing times (not only of the top 3 finishers), and in the prestige/notoriety.
One thing to be mindful of is that when you go above $600, the winnings need to be reported to the IRS and if you have non-U.S. citizens who come in, in the money the rules can be a little complex, particularly if the runner(s) who win money come from a country that does not have a tax treaty with the U.S. If you maintain those levels your race treasurer or awards captain will need to do some research to make sure your race is compliant with the IRS regulations.
07-01-2008, 03:42 PM
Good comments by all. I agree with pvolkmar that the increase in extra elite runners from out of town will not generate enough extra entries to cover the dollars, and agree with the follow up post that suggested the awards may make the event more visible in the local media, which is something that will help boost numbers.
You may also want to consider a formula of smaller prises, so as to be below IRS reporting requirements, pushed down into the age group awards may make more difference to increasing local participation.
In the end, if I had $5,000 of sponsors money to spend on making the event better, I would go for first class technical race shirts in a color and design that people would want to wear again.
ING marathon gave every runner a blue running singlet that have white and orange highlights. I see lots of people actually wear them when running and working out. I see them every time I am out for a run. This gets the race visibility year round, and plants the event, (and the sponsor) more firmly in the minds of past participants who wear the shirts. Better than a cash award to an elite person from out of town.
It does not take that much to upgrade the race experience for all. That's the way to grow and sustain the numbers.
07-02-2008, 09:54 AM
I would agree that if a sponsor gives $5,000 to improve the race, taking care of the runners with technical shirts, good course layout & support, good food & sport massages at the end, and more age group awards, would do a lot to improve it. However, if the $5,000 is for improving the awards, there is nothing wrong with increasing the size of the cash purses. Whether the winners are local or not, the money will lead to better performances (faster times), which leads to more notoriety and greater size.
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