Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In praise of cheap

[Stay tuned for Olympic Trials reports. Right now I'm just stuck in the Portland airport, and I've been meaning to write about this issue for a while...]

I’ve seen a bunch of summer running schedules floating around, but none of them focus on what is the number one criterion for me: cheap.

Now, despite the fact my wife accuses me of being an actual cheapskate, hear me out. We have a family of four runners. And for all of us to participate in the same running event, the cost is usually around $100. Ouch. Especially this year. I imagine I’m not the only runner who’s in dire financial straights. Wife laid off a year ago, buried with student loans, and negotiating with my good friends at Countrywide for a short sale of our house, in hopes of avoiding a worse alternative.

So $100 for a road race really hurts right now. Yet the attraction of running—versus so many other sports—is that it can be a very inexpensive family activity. Except around here, it sometimes seems. I basically live near Ann Arbor, and this town hosts oodles of races. However, they’re all fundraisers for great causes—either that or for the shoe store putting them on.

Charity’s wonderful, and I must admit I feel a little scrooge-like when I look about for low-cost alternatives. They’re hard to find! And yet, there needs to be a place for them. There have to be other runner families like mine, and I know there are plenty of student runners who are operating on minimal funds. So where do you go to find the cheap races?

Wayland: We all need to live near Wayland. That’s my conclusion. The Wayland Road Runners, thanks to Ray and Jennifer Antel, have been putting on cheap races for years on Wednesday nights. Says Ray, “My wife wanted to double the entry fee this year but I thought we should keep it at 50 cents.” You have to love the guy. And his wife. Here’s their schedule:

Linden: Wednesday nights until July 23, the folks at Linden are putting on great family oriented cross country races at Linden County Park. They start at 6p.m. with the munchkins, running a 0.75M loop. Then the middle schoolers run 1.5M, and the high schoolers and adults run 3 miles. They give out ribbons for awards, and the entry fee is $2 per individual, or $5 per family. Lots of fun, nice people, and anyone of any speed should feel comfortable making a race or a workout out of this.

Grand Ledge: Wednesday nights (except July 4 week), starting at 6:30pm, the folks here have been putting on all-comer track meets for the past 35 years, thanks to the ongoing efforts of Kim Spalsbury and friends. $5 entry fee, athletes of all ages and speeds (the championship meet is $10). Very professionally done and lots of fun—they give out popsicles!! Their schedule:

Ann Arbor: Tortoise & Hare running store has two more track meets coming up at Huron High School. Cost is $5. Information:

Ionia: This just in from John Carlson: One more site for cheap track meets - Ionia HS on Thursdays - $5 limited race schedule (no meet on July 2nd); last meet is $10 on July 23rd.

Northville: U-D coach Guy Murray puts on two XC races for $5 at Northville's Cass Benton Park (fun course). "I have 2 the Tommy Titan Tune-up on 8/13/08 and the Running Fit-Detroit Titan Invite Open 5k on 9/6/08 both are $5. You can get the details at the sidebar at "

Saline: From Tom Micallef: "Come out and have some fun! Thursday July 10 and Tuesday, July 29 at Saline High School Track 5:00 pm start. Field Events - High Jump and Long Jump only. Track Events - in this order of competition...110 / 100 Hurdles, 800 M Run, 100 M Dash, 300 M Hurdles, 1600 M Run, 400 M Dash. $3.00 entry fee for spectators and athletes. No pre meet entry. Races will be set up ability levels. No awards - just fun! Contact Coach Mick 734.649.2091 for more details."

I missing any other opportunities out there for $5 or less? Let me know and I’ll try to spread the word. If you’re really lucky, I’ll make a special guest appearance! (The folks at Linden got to see my 14-year-old daughter outkick me for the first time... ouch!)

No comments: