The “Cheapest” Sport Comes with a High Price

image from @abrowngirlruns

Often, running is considered one of the cheapest sports. A pair of shoes is all you need right? Technically, yes but those shoes do not come cheap. According to Runners World (2013) the average runner spends more than $14,000 during their running life. You might be thinking “well I’m not an elite runner clocking 50km a week! Surely I’m spending less.” However, this stat accounted for runners who are ONLY buying $50 shoes and never participate in a race. The average lifespan of a pair of running shoes is around 500km. For someone who only owns one pair of shoes and runs 3-4 days a week could easily burn out a pair of shoes in just four months.

Running and Privilege

So why does it matter? Running is a privilege, not a right… that’s exactly the problem. Distance, track, and trail running is often reserved for people with some amount of economic privilege. This causes people with more money to often have better health. Often, people with higher incomes have lower chronic illness rates, higher physical fitness, and higher life expectancy. This gives higher-income individuals better life chances: such as a greater likelihood of getting good jobs, more leisure time, and more social relationships.

For amateur runners who do wish to participate in races costs continue to make this difficult. Marathon and race entry fees have risen by more than 35% since 2007 according to Running USA (2019). This is 3.5x than the normal inflation rate. This statistic does not take into account the other expenses of marathon participation, such as travel costs, clothing costs, and accommodations.

So what can be done to close the economic gap in running and health in general? Luckily, there are several amazing organizations doing their part to make running more accessible. Including, The Kickback Connect which provides many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) with running gear. As well as Air Up There Run Crew in Hamilton that has a Mutual Aid fund to provide running gear to BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ runners. For individuals looking to do their part, some ideas are:

  1. Organizing a running/sports gear drive in your community
  2. Donate your race bib if you are unable to participate in an event you registered for
  3. Start a mutual aid fund in your run crew to alleviate marathon costs

Running is a gift that ALL people should be able to participate in.