DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World
I’d like to know why the fee is so high to register online for some races. It only makes life easier for the race organizers when I register online, yet for some races, they charge an extra $6 or more to register online. I don’t mind paying a small fee for the convenience or if I were to pay a convenience fee online that went directly to the charity, but when I’m already paying $80 for the race I will fax or mail my entry in if the fee to register online is more than $2. Can you offer any justification that will change my mind? - Lann C.
Lann, thanks for your question...and it is a good one. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, as not all races do the some thing and there are many scenarios offered throughout the industry.
Most races that offer online registration do so through a third party company who provides this service for a fee. Races then have a choice of passing on the entire fee to the participant, passing on part of the fee to the participant, or paying the total fee themselves. Those that pay the fee themselves may actually just increase the entry fee by the same amount -- so, actually, the participant is still paying for it. Usually these fees are a percentage -- 5% to 10%, in most cases -- of the race entry fee. (I don't set these fees, so don't shoot the messenger!)
You are correct that online registration "makes life easier" for the race organizers, but I think it also benefits the participant, in that through the internet, you can easily access races and register for them almost immediately. Races then can maintain constant contact with the runners and send out regular communication to their participants about the race. For most races, the money and time saved in not having to handle paper applications simply goes toward the expense of maintaining the technology expense and expertise that all of this requires.
Lastly, most (not all) races do allow you to print out an application from their web site, with the total fee to register via this method being a little less than to register online. Conversely, some races (and I actually do this myself in some races) actually charge less to register on line (incurring the online fee themselves) than by mail in as they are trying to encourage more and more registrants to use the easier, online method.