My background has taken me through over 17 years of running in races from the 5K distance to the marathon to 100 mile races. I'm very familiar with fees to enter events and the landscape of the running scene has changed incredibly in those 17 years. What many of us refer to as "old school" races are out there but far less in numbers. By "old school," I mean a race that keeps registration fees low, focuses on the runners, and uses the entry fees to give back to an organization or even the park system, etc. where the event takes place. Unfortunately, the sport has largely been poisoned by big for-profit companies who have bought or created new events and focus more on the "experience" of the event and have insane registration fees for what you get. For example, two local marathons (Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon and the Akron Marathon) cost $90 and $85 and take place in April and September, respectively. The New York City Marathon costs $266. $266!!!! Furthermore, you have to get in via lottery! Tens of thousands run that marathon and they have to go to a lottery system every year due to the demand. I just don't get it. You know hotels feast on this so add that in there, too. Then we have the themed races like the Warrior Dash that cover a huge 3.2 miles and 12 obstacles. Lots of photos and a plastic helmet with horns are provided, too, for $58.77. That's for the one here in Ohio this May. (options to buy extra helmets are provided at registration) Now I may be hatin' a little on Warrior Dash. A lot of folks have fun at those and nearly 60 bucks isn't horrible but it's not for me. At the lower end of the running race spectrum is the local 5K. Outside of the small 5K I directed back in November, most 5Ks are $25 and up. Once you dip into the ultra world, that's where the biggest bang for your buck typically comes from. From a pure cost per mile perspective, a 50K ultra or a 50 miler often costs less than a road marathon yet the swag is normally very nice and tons of logistical support and FOOD throughout the race! So as you can see, there are lots of variances out there. For me, I dig a little deeper into a race before I send my money in. I care about the "why" of its existence and where the funds go. I have more of a purist mindset when it comes to running and keeping it that way. There are lots of ways to make a living out there...I'm just not a fan of building that living on the back of recreational runners.
The Debate: I have to be careful when I read comments online. The "keyboard bravery" that people have can really get under my skin. Their ignorance, intolerance and uneducated opinions just wear me the wrong way. They speak of the mega-giant CrossFit rolling in the dough and how the Open is just another way to line their pockets. OK, remember back to how I set the stage for entry fees in the running world? I pay a fee, I run a distance, I finish, I get some stuff and I go home. Within the CrossFit Open, ANY athlete can compete for a whopping 20 dollars. $20. So what do you get? Each week, a workout will be announced (e.g. 15.1, 15.2, 15.3, 15.4, 15.5) and athletes will have until a certain day and time to upload their scores. Even the "Fittest Man on Earth" Rich Froning starts in the Open in his affiliate down south. At the Open, we are one massive community. Locally, our box will do the workouts together as a community. We'll sweat, encourage, and tough it out together. In 2011, 26,000 athletes signed up for the Open. In 2012, 69,240 signed up. In 2013, 138,000 signed up. In 2014? 209,585 signed up. As the numbers grow, so does the revenue stream into CrossFit HQ. Some basic math tells me that at $20 a person last year, that yields almost $4.2 million in just the Open alone. Hate the machine? Why? Let me encourage you to take a step back here and not balk at that so quickly.
|Running 200 miles/month prior to CrossFit 5|
days a week now and about 50 miles per month
Further, there has been a lot written against a new feature in the Open this year: the Scaled option. This year, athletes will be able to elect the non-Rx (prescribed) workout and do a scaled down version. This athlete won't be able to compete for the Regionals (and that's ok!). This is what got me registered because I know I can't do a handstand pushup...a muscle up...and a lot of the weights required for Olympic lifts. I just can't. Now, I can elect either the Rx workout or scaled workout each week and give it my all...for 5 weeks. I.can't.wait! So why the fight against the Scaled option? Well, many point to the CrossFit money-making machine again. I have a feeling that this option will cause last year's $4.2 million to be dwarfed. They are opening it up to so many more people now. Tell me again how letting people challenge themselves at their local box in these workouts is bad? Tell me, too...do you have an iPhone, iPad, MacBook, iPod? Apple just posted their quarterly earnings yesterday. It was the biggest quarter EVER for any company. EVER!!!! For the first quarter 2015, Apple brought in $74.6 BILLION dollars in revenue and $18 BILLION in profit. For you non-economics folks, the $18 BILLION is their take home, essentially, after accounting for expenses. Wow. Furthermore, they have $137.1 BILLION in cash on hand. Zero debt and a mountain of money...more than Hewlett Packard makes in an entire year. Back to your iPhone or Apple whatever... OK, I think you get my point.
Bottom Line: If CrossFit continues to foster an environment of fitness, inclusion of all who wish to grace local affiliates' doors and give it all, and puts on the CrossFit Games in such a way that still finds the Fittest on Earth while letting the newbies like me get a taste of the excitement and challenge, then I have NO issue. From a purely dollars and cents perspective in my pocket, it's a no-brainer. 20 bucks. 5 weeks. Stronger. Fitter. Better.