Events for runners on a budget

Posted by Stuart Morrison on

Looking for a running event, but having to watch your budget?

Running events can be quite expensive. Some marathons and half marathons cost in excess of £50. And even 5K and 10K events can be prohibitively expensive, especially in larger cities. As a result, anyone living on a limited budget, such as young families, the low paid, people between jobs, etc, won't always be able to afford to join in. So, what are the options for runners on a budget?

We've compiled a short list of options for those looking for inexpensive running events.


1. Parkrun
Founded in 2004, Parkrun is a series of free weekly organised Saturday morning 5K runs. Originally taking place in Bushy Park in London, it has grown to involve hundreds of events taking place all over the world, with over 600 established throughout the UK.

Parkrun finish funnel

For most of us in the UK, the chances are that we live close to a Parkrun. It's requested that people occasionally volunteer to help out. However, as far as money is concerned, there is no cost. Just turn up and run.

Locations : All over the UK, and beyond.


2. National Trust Trust10 Trail Runs
The National Trust organise a small number of monthly 10K trail runs. Taking place on the fourth Sunday of every month, runners can simply turn up and run a marshalled 10K course across a scenic NT site.

National Trust Trust10 Trail Runs

Locations :



    3. Charities
    Running for a charity can be a great way to enter a race. As well as raising funds for a good cause, it is often a good way to enter an event at a reduced price, sometimes for free.

    London Marathon Charity Runners

    A lot of charities offer places in big races. However there are also a good numebr of smaller races that have charity partners looking for runners.

    Having once run a race for charity, I would thoroughly recommend looking into this option. However, be aware that you will almost certainly be obliged to raise a certain amount for the charity involved. Often this can be quite large (£1,000+ is not uncommon). That said, if you have a lot of generous friends, and giving work colleagues, this is an option worth investigating.


    4. Virtual Runs
    If you want a challenge, but don't want to be tied down to having to be at certain places at certain times, virtual runs are a great option. They are also aften a lot less costly.

    Virtual Running

    Our experience is that virtual runs cost as little as a quarter the price of some in-person races. With minimal admin and no insurance costs, virtual races often cost in the range of £10 - £20. If the medal is optional, it can be even less (occasionally free?). Compared with £25 - £60 for some big races, the savings are significant. 

    A few virtual runs and organisers :


    5. Volunteering
    Almost all races need volunteers. Whether it's marshalling, looking after the bag drop, giving out medals or something else, volunteers tend to make up a significant portion of the race day crew. Although unpaid, they rarely go unrewarded. At some events, the reward is free, or reduced price, entry to another event.

    Ealing Half Marathon volunteers

    Two examples of free race entry for volunteering are the Ealing Half Marathon and Runthrough events. Volunteers at the Ealing Half are offered free entry to the following year's event. And if you want to volunteer for a Runthrough race, they will happily offer you free entry to another of their many events.

    URLs :