What to Focus on When Choosing Your Next Race

By Dani Holmes-Kirk

You work hard for your money.

So hard for it, honey.

You work hard for your money…

So the race better be worth it!

I’m not a songstress, but you have to give me some props for that. No? Just wait until it’s stuck in your head later.

Whether you are working on registering for your first or your 1,000th race, you can agree that race fees are starting to get out of control. I want to make sure you aren’t throwing money away on a poor race experience.

Before you register for a race make sure you take the following things into account:

Location – Decide whether you are making this a race-cation (doing a race while on vacation) or staying local.

  • If local, be sure the race is either supporting a charity or has a kick-ass post-race party since you are running on a street you can technically run on any given day for free. The Cambridge 5k race series offers local craft beer and a dance-off.
  • If doing a destination race, make sure the distance is one that won’t hinder the vacation part of the trip! Did you know the most popular race distance in the US is the 5k with 8.3 million finishers in 2014 (via the RunningUSA.com 2015 State of the Sport – U.S. Race Trends)?

Swag – What will you be getting for completing the race?

  • Finisher’s medal, shirt, hat, post-race food, beer? It is up to you to decide if the ratio of swag to entry fee is fair.

Course Support/Atmosphere – What does the environment and support offer runners?

  • Will there be ample EMTs and first aid stations?

Before you hit ACCEPT or REGISTER, check out race reviews by Googling blogs or going to BibRave.com.

Unsure where to start when registering for a race, search RunningInTheUSA.com. They break down races by state, month and distance!



Dani Holmes-Kirk started blogging in 2011 as a forum to release emotions after a back injury, but it evolved from there. At Weight Off My Shoulders, she shares about her 80-pound weight loss journey and passion for running. Dani loves helping others on their own weight loss and fitness journeys.  Twitter  Facebook



  1. Danielle Kempe says

    The EMT thing was a problem when I slipped on a wet finish line at the Cambridge Spring Classic 5K last year.

    I got a major bruise but I had to walk to find first aid. (I hit hard and I have photos of it in action since it was on the finish line. Luckily, I just bruised the padding on my posterior but I hit so hard I was worried I’d broken a bone.)

  2. says

    Swag doesn’t interest me. If there are costumes, count me out. I run self-sufficient so don’t care what are at the aid stations…give me a mountain and I will run it. No crowds. No awards.