I really enjoy the sport of triathlon, and other endurance sports. I just want to say, before I get started, I am not bashing any company or organization, in this blog post. I only want to point out some of the overlooked venues out there that might attract more people to endurance sports. I think all companies and organizations offer something to endurance sports, but that we often overlook smaller venues.
There is a marathon at the Xenia, Ohio YMCA every year, and this year was the 50th anniversary of the event. The event is small compared to a lot of marathons. It is nice, mostly flat and fast, and it is a Boston Qualifier. It has a 11.5% qualifying rate. It is well organized, chipped timed, and offers nice post-race food. The best part is that the early bird registration is only 35 dollars. Compared to most of the marathons around Northwest Ohio, this is half the price. Xenia Marathon has an average of 250 finishers every year, versus 2500 finishers at some of the bigger marathons.
There are several non-name brand full length triathlons in the United States. Michigan Titanium, Wilderman Offroad, Tri Fort Worth, and The Goliath Race are just some of the names of other ultra-distance triathlons that measure 140.6 miles. I have done Ironman Louisville, Challenge Cedar Point, and Rev3 Cedar Point, and to say the least, the races themselves are about the same. The pre-race expos at Ironman events are larger and have more vendors, but to be honest I really and truly do not even care about the expos and the vendors. Besides walking through to get my packet, I have never really paid attention to the expo. Now, if you compare the prices of Michigan Titanium and The Redman to Ironman, they are about half the price. The smaller venues actually offer better swims, bike legs, and runs. There is a big difference between swimming, biking, and running when there are 150 to 250 athletes, and swimming, biking, and running with 2500 athletes occupying the same course.
The half-distance is about the same, but there seems to be bigger differences in pricing. A lot of smaller races, run by local companies, are half to one third the price of the bigger name brand races. HFP Racing in Ohio has a few half-distance races that you can register for, for only $110 up to just days before the race. The bigger race’s early bird registration fees are twice as much, and getting in at the last minute would cost you three times that much. Once again, I am not knocking the big-name races, I have done several of them, Ironman Muncie 70.3, Ironman Racine 70.3, Challenge Williamsburg and more. Just like the full distance, they offer bigger expos and more athletes, along with the same pros and cons as the big full-distance triathlons when compared to the non-name brand races.
I have found the same is true with swimming events and cycling events. Most of the time, same as with running and triathlon you are only really paying for the name. There a lot of smaller cycling events a person can get in for $20 to $40, whereas bigger events can cost $100 to $150.
I am not knocking the big companies, I am just trying to remind people that there are a lot of quality smaller venues out there. Most of them offer the same distance and competition that the big names do. I do understand it is easier to tell your non-triathlon friends the name brand rather than tell them the name of a smaller event,instead of having to go into explaining it to them. There is a comfort when doing an event with a big name attached to it, but I would like to say that in my experience I have had good and bad customer service from both big-name brands and small name brands.
What are your thoughts on big name brands verses small name brand?
What do you think about going back to the grassroots of events?