Charity Running or Crap Shoot?

Having just gotten back from a nice five day vacation, I had a lot of time to think.  I lot of time to relax, and have fun.  Spending time at a theme park meant that my feet had very little break, but I did get to clear my mind quite a bit.

On Friday, I walked the equivalent of about six miles, Saturday I walked more than a half marathon in distance, and on Sunday about ten miles.  To top it off, I ran 5.25 miles (the only run while away) on Monday followed by a warm dip in the pool.  I got a lot of mileage in, albeit not all while running.  Time away from work and home allowed me to clear my head, and focus on some things that up until now I hadn’t given a lot of thought.  This leads me into the purpose of this post today.

My Spring/Summer racing schedule is pretty much set at this point, so naturally I start thinking about Fall.  I haven’t signed up for a single race after July.  What to do?  What to do?  I had such an amazing time at the Chicago Marathon this past October, that I would love to do it again.  I’m sure that I could do Chicago cheaper than I did this past year, but let’s face it, it is expensive.  It’s a lottery system to get in, and luckily I got in on my first attempt.  The great thing about Chicago is that once you find out you’re in, you have five days to decide if you are going to pay and enter.


The day I left for vacation was the opening day of the New York City Marathon lottery.  It’s open for a month.  I have one close friend who announced his entrance into the lottery on day one.  My brother announced a few days later that he entered the lottery.  It got me thinking…  Should I throw my name in the hopper?  Unlike Chicago where it doesn’t cost a penny to enter the lottery, just to enter the NYC lottery it will cost you $11.  What are the chances of getting in?  The most popular response to that question I’ve seen is about a one in ten chance of getting chosen.  If you are chosen, your credit card is automatically charged for the race entry fee which is over $250.  Hummmmmm…..


New York City is the biggest marathon in the world.  It doesn’t eclipse Chicago by a whole lot, maybe about 5,000 runners.  But, it’s NYC, it is iconic.  A bucket list race for many runners around the world.  I did enter the lottery for NY a few years back when my brother had a guaranteed entry, but I didn’t get in. I remember feeling at the time that I was pissed that I had to pay just to enter the lottery, and with such a slight chance of getting in that I wouldn’t do it again.  This led me to think about a guaranteed entry through charity running.

I’ve never joined a charity team, or raised money to run.  To get a charity spot for NYC it means raising a lot of money (and paying for any shortfalls out of pocket), plus regular entry fees, and all travel related costs.  It will be expensive regardless.  Just for the purposes of clarity for instance, if you join Team for Kids, the fund raising commitment is $2,620.  It’s due a month before the race.  To me that seems like a serious commitment. Do I take my chances or chose the sure fire entry?

My question for readers today is this….  Have you ever joined a charity team to run a race?  What was the experience like?  Was it easy to raise the money or difficult?  How did you feel about it afterwards?  Was it worth it?

I would appreciate any comments folks, as it will help me to make a decision that may impact my fall running schedule.

10 thoughts on “Charity Running or Crap Shoot?

  1. So I’ve never run with a charity team before, but I have run the NYC Marathon and I can tell you that it’s worth the price. The thing about the $11 is to try not to think of it as a waste. If you don’t try, you’ll never know! Just have a back-up plan in case the lottery doesn’t work in your favor. Also, you do have plenty of time to raise money for a charity and if you’re fully committed to doing things to raise that money (i.e. bake sales work wonders!), it won’t be a problem. Good luck!!

  2. I’m of two minds on this. I’ve raised money on my own and it was surprisingly easy and enjoyable. People like getting behind you, supporting your running and your organization. Of course by doing that, I didn’t get a race spot.

    Raising money to get a race spot is a bit less fun. Now you’re usually raising money for a good organization, but not one of your choosing. It’s great to support charities but easier if it’s personal and your passionate. In addition, the charity has to cut a huge check to the race in order to get that spot. So instead of you paying a $150 entry fee, the charity is paying $500+ to the marathon and a big portion of your donations pad NYRR bank account. This is the real reason you’re seeing so many races open up so many more charity spots…

    • Very true. They haven’t announced all race charities yet, so my choice if I do it, would have to mean something to me personally. Raising money for a NY charity exclusively wouldn’t be a ton of fun.

  3. I think if you’re serious about doing NYC, the $11 isn’t THAT big of a deal. I mean, it’s the equivalent of one lunch out at a restaurant (not a fast food restaurant obviously, but a fast-casual place or sit down). I don’t like that cards are charged immediately though- they should give everyone a grace period to think about it if they do get in. I’m not into marathons, have never done one for a charity team. I honestly can’t imagine trying to juggle marathon training with raising funds, along with family and life. Just training for a marathon that you paid for is hard enough!

  4. I have done a charity race, and I think it helped take the pressure off of just me and training. I knew I was raising money for a good cause, but it was an added stress (in a good way). I definitely would do the lottery for NY. I am going to throw my hat in the ring for Marine Corps this year (and will seriously contemplate charity running if I don’t get it). Next year, I think I will set my sights on NY. Do it!!

    • Amy, so nice to hear from you! Hope that all is well. So I should do it huh? Seems like it would be a real stessor to raise that kind of money. I’ve never even had to sell Girl Scout cookies, as I never had girls. Lol

  5. My wife did Disney with the Lymphoma Society team. She had to raise $2500. Not sure how she felt about it, but it was a fun trip, and Disney is very expensive. I think the NYC run is an event that goes on a bucket list, to do just to do. Is $11 really a big amount to spend on a great experience? I’d think with your spring training and race calendar, the $11 plus whatever travel and race expenses will be less of a cost than the time committment to raise the allotted requirement, and pay the race/travel fees in addition. Just my thoughts.

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