Balancing “Race Bling” With Not Breaking The Bank

Race bling is what you get in your goodie bag for signing up for the race.  Race bling can be t-shirts, socks, hats, coupons, free logo’d stuff like pens from sponsors, finishers medals, etc.    You must be budget conscience to keep costs low, but still give your participants the value for what they paid for.  T-shirts are almost always required at races, so be sure to include those in your budget calculations.  You can always negotiate the prices for most of your items that you are given away.

A lot of times your race sponsors will want to put items in your goodie bags as part of their sponsorship.  They can add pens or another item that has their logo on it or even a coupon to their establishment.

Remember that every item that you purchase comes directly from the profits of the race.  Yes, the item is ‘just $1’ but if you have 200 participants, that’s $200 you can give to your organization.  What could the organization do with that money?  For your first few years, a t-shirt will work fine for your race bling, in addition to anything else you can get donated.

Gifts in Kind

Gifts in Kind are a great addition to your sponsor packet (want to see a specific sponsor packet?  Purchase our e-book for tons of info).  A lot of times a vendor would rather give out an item instead of cash, especially a first time race.  For example, a restaurant might not want to give you $500 but they will give you $500 worth of bananas for your finish line food.  This is a win-win for them because they can help you with an item you would have bought but they get it at a fraction of the cost because they get a discount from their supplier.

More examples of gifts in kind:  raffle prizes, water bottles, 10+ gallon water jugs, t-shirts, door prizes, fruit, etc.


Budgeting is important in your race because your entire purpose (at least I hope!) is to make money for your organization.  Just like your “real life” personal budget, you have to spend less than you are bringing in.

A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 50% of your participation fee on race expense.  Preferably the amount should be less than 30% but it will depend on the number of participants.

For example, if you have 300 participants the $800 race timing fee is not as astronomical as if you were to only have 50 participants.  The more participants you have, the lower cost per participant will be. (Our eBook has a budget template for this).


A Tale of Three Races

I know some people do not like to ask for donations, but it is necessary.  “What do I say?”  “What do I bring with me?”   “I feel like I am bugging them!”  These are common statements and questions that make people nervous about talking to potential sponsors.  Think about this, the worst they can say is no and if they say yes, you are good to go!  (If you want to know more on this subject, our e-book has tips on talking to potential sponsors and also a sponsorship packet to bring with you)


Let’s look at the numbers of having sponsors vs not having sponsors.  Both of these examples have 100 registrants and $500 in expenses.

With sponsors:

100 registrations x $25 each=$2500

$2,000 in sponsorships

$500 expenses

Total money raised:  $4,000


Without sponsors:

100 registrations x $25 each=$2500

$500 expenses

Total money raised:  $2000


What could your organization do with $2,000 (or more, depending on how much you raise)?

Items to Sell at Your Race

Do you have old race t-shirts or old organization t-shirts that are just sitting in storage?  The race is a great place to sell old shirts and promo items that you have lying around.  Most often these items are sold at a discount (but still at a profit) so you can move them quickly.  It is worth it to take a slight cut in the profits but still move the inventory because they are sitting there anyway, not making any money and you have a built in audience that loves your organization.

Or you can create a special edition shirt that is sold at that event-like tie dye.

You can also sell additional current year race t-shirts for people who would want them.

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