Fit Five Friday – Run, they said. It’s free, they said.

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It’s that time of week again and here I am with my semi-semi-regular post! Welcome to the Fit Five Friday with with your FIVE amazing hosts – me, My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida ! Feel free to join in on the fun!

Disclaimer: this is a light-hearted satirical post. I am 100% grateful I CAN run, that I have the ability to do so without massive limitations and that I have the means to do what I choose and go where I want when it comes to running. 100% checking my privilege at the door. OK, with all that said, I think running is also a very expensive “free” thing to do as a hobby if you are all-in.

Five Times Running Wasn’t Free – Chicago Marathon Style

Cost to Enter

get your credit card ready!

Did you know that international participants pay $240 to participate in the Chicago marathon? “But aren’t you also an American citizen?” you ask. Yes, I am, but to participate as a US American I have to have an address in the United States. I don’t have that. So I’m an international participant.

In addition to the entrance fee, if you defer, like I did in 2019 (thank you #herniagate), you can do so one time and thank goodness for that! However, you DO have to pay again. So, that means it cost me $480 to run the Chicago Marathon this year. (Since my entry was for 2020, due to corona and the cancelation, I could choose 2021, 2022 and 023). I haven’t run it yet, but I’m certain it’s going to be worth it.

Cost to fly to destination

Before you say it, yes I know I could do local races. And I have done many! Local races are much cheaper, are not part of the World Majors, and can even be reached by train, car or even bicycle.

We all have that bucket list race though, and mine is Chicago. “Why, though?” you ask. Well, though I was born in New Mexico, I lived in the suburbs of and then later the city of Chicago for a bit more than half of my US life. Chicago is what made me a “city girl”. Running through the neighbourhoods of a city that is so special to me is an absolute dream.

I have run a half marathon in Chicago, and I have supported on the sidelines of the marathon and the kind of energy in the city on race day is exactly what I’m looking for in a marathon.

So I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you the exact cost of the flight, but it’s up there! Because nowadays you don’t only pay for the flight, you pay for luggage, seats, and in some cases even food on the flight! And we wanted a direct flight in case that would reduce the risk of our luggage getting lost, and that adds to the price.

Hotel cost is insane

And these were the prices months ago as well…

What is the deal with the cost of hotels? I mean, who actually pays over $1000 a night for a hotel room? Is it laced in gold? Is there 24 hour butler service? Does it come with full body massages?

I don’t have to stay in a hotel while I’m in Chicago; I’m lucky that I still have my two best friends in town, but if you’ve ever run a race outside of where you live, or you’ve run a distance that you know is going to be really hard on your body, you probably want to be close to either the start or the finish of the race.

In our case I bit the bullet and found a hotel super close to the start/ finish so that I can hobble back there after the race, have a good cry and then be able to have a long soak in the bath to help with recovery. Luckily I’m savvy enough to find deals online for hotels, but at some point you just have book and pay the piper. (Oh and we are not staying the night before the marathon – we can’t justify 3 nights, so checking in after the marathon is going to be real fun!)


Back when Ron used to train with Runiversity as well

Training doesn’t have to be expensive, and there are plenty of free plans to follow for marathon training. It’s a fact right now that I do not have that sort of discipline to follow a plan to the letter. So I’ve opted for the online only training plan from my coach Chantor. I have been doing that at a cost of EUR 30 per month since last December.

So basically EUR 300 for this training leading up to the marathon. And trust me, I’ve been a horrible athlete for my coach. But he knows me, he understands me, he listens to me and he is the first one to day ‘the goal is to finish without injury”. He’s provided me with training plans and support throughout.

Bad athlete or not, it’s been worth it.


isn’t she pretty though?

The one thing that was said to me in the beginning of my running career was “you don’t need anything really to run, just some jogging clothes and a pair of shoes!” And that IS exactly how I started! I had an old pair of gym leggings, an oversized sweatshirt and a pair of running shoes I got for free from when I worked at Adidas. I already had an iPod that I was able to put the couch to 5k program on and I remember it was cold out so I wore an actual winter scarf and some gloves to keep me warm.

Of course when you start running you realise there are so many more gadgets out there to enhance the experience! I promised myself that when I lost 10KG I would get a new pair of shoes. The Adidas shoes I was wearing were not ideal for me, turns out they were actually too small (and likely the cause of my shin splints). My first pair of running shoes I purchased were Nikes and they had the “pod” in them to record the distance. And soon afterwards, came a new iPod, and a polar watch. I was on my way to becoming a real runner!

For the Chicago marathon, because I will likely need the entire time limit, I was concerned that my Garmin vivo 4s battery life wasn’t going to quite cut the mustard. There is nothing worse that your watch dying before you’ve finished a marathon!! It happened to me during the Paris marathon, the second time I ran it in 2016. And trust me, you DO keep looking at your watch out of habit, even when it’s a blank screen. UGH.

So… long story short, I bought a Garmin 245 because it has a 24 hour battery life. $Kaching$ – EUR 220.

Were you also told “running is free” when you started? Do you remember the first thing you spent money on when it came to running? Have you thrown a ridiculous amount of money traveling to a coveted race? We only live once, am I right?

Bonus: I realised this week I also signed up for the 5KM on Saturday. Doh! $35, right there.

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Here are the guidelines:

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  • Please link back to your hosts! It’s the right thing to do! 
  • Share the link-up love by visiting and commenting on your hosts and at least two other Fit Five Friday bloggers!
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  1. Haha!! I love this post!! I’ve spent so much on running from destination races to local races (even those accumulate) to hydration packs to running clothes to watches (The Forerunner 245 is amazing though so well done!!) I mean I don’t have many business, casual or formal/fancy outfits (I actually panic when I get invited to a wedding or formal dinner, LOL) and yet I struggle to close my running gear drawers! So… no running is NOT free, but we love it, and I love all your reasons for running Chicago. #YOLO!!!

    1. Renée says:

      I have a serious lack of “normal” clothes! haha! So I get you!!

  2. Jenny says:

    Ha ha, I was laughing just from reading the title of this post. Yes, everything seems to be insanely expensive these days, so I can only imagine the cost to fly internationally and pay for a hotel in Chicago. But… you’ll have an amazing time!!! I’m excited for you (btw I grew up near Chicago.) It will all be worth it.

    1. Renée says:

      It will definitely be worth it! And what I didn’t mention is that I still have most of my stimulus money that will pay for my time spent when I’m not running! so it’s alllll good.

  3. The cost of the WMM races is getting crazy. I remember complaining about Boston ’98 being $75 when NYC was $50 – LOL. That said, training programs and Garmins and some of the other things are not required. Still less than triathlons ;)

    1. Renée says:

      and these races are going to sell regardless so they really can get expensive!! and yes, I was actually going to mention something about triatlons or actually getting seriously involved in cycling. how much for a good bike even??? THOUSANDS. I’ll take the EUR 150 shoes hahaha!

  4. This is great. Anyone who runs knows that it can be costly. Hello running shoes. That’s my first priotiy.

    I try to register early for races to get the cheapest price.

    I also don’t travel many places for races. Too costly.

    When I go to Florida I stay with friends.

    But I agree, you only live once. Enjoy!!

    1. Renée says:

      exactly it starts with the running shoes! We were really running “everywhere” but also signing up early and looking for cheap accommodation, like airbnbs and the like. Or going on vacation and then finding a local race. But absolutely recommend if one has the means to travel! Life is short. I want to feel like I did the things I loved in my life.

  5. Coco says:

    LOL, but when you cross that finish line it will be worth every penny!

    I’ve been traveling for work recently and hotel and airfare prices are insane.

    1. Renée says:

      it will be for sure! I’m looking forward to it, 100% but I’m also looking forward to saying goodbye to the distance for a (long) while (never say never…).

  6. running is definitely not free but it’s benefits sure are priceless! Have fun in Chicago

    1. Renée says:

      absolutely! thanks Deborah!

  7. Michelle says:

    Love this post! I’m so happy for you to be finally getting to run Chicago – it was an amazing experience for me and I hope it will be for you too!

    1. Renée says:

      Thanks Michelle! I think it will be memorable, no matter what!

  8. Liz Dexter says:

    Ha, funny post, and good luck in Chicago! I am notoriously mean so I don’t do many destination races (Reykjavik and Liverpool RnR marathons are the exceptions and I stayed at VERY cheap places both times), I buy my running kit from Sports Direct and Lidl so it’s only shoes and bras. But I do spend a lot on them. Then, like a commenter above, I don’t really buy actual normal clothes … Oh, running books, that’s another one.

    1. Renée says:

      Thanks! I have a lot of kit from years ago, it’s perfectly good so I continue to wear it! I was a bit on a spree with InkNBurn and procompression socks and I stopped all that for a year and never picked up on the socks again. I do think our destination races will be less, but I also think that we will be focusing on shorter distances again for a while. And yeah, I’m desperate for normal clothes now since I start a new job soon!! Running books… yes, we have a LOT of those too!

  9. Jenn says:

    But how exciting it’s going to be!

    I think the low-cost of running came up when I started. That was a while ago LOL. A lot has happened since then.

    I hope you have the best time! And that you enjoy your hotel, even if it isn’t laced with gold.

    1. Renée says:

      yes it’s going to be exciting. and fun. and hellish. and there will be tears. but I will make it!! Thanks! (apparently this hotel is haunted, but I didn’t experience that in 2017 when I did the half marathon in Chicago)

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