Look, this is an expensive sport. Between race fees, travel, lodging, nutrition, and gear, it adds up. So why do we do it? Because it’s worth it! This isn’t your local 5K, this is obstacle course racing!
Whether you’re a casual racer or a weekend warrior, the costs can be obstacles, but there are ways to overcome them.
Volunteer and earn free races with most major race brands. It’s a great way to get familiar with the sport, the obstacles, and interact with other racers. Plus, you get a free t-shirt.
Take Advantage of Race Deals
Most major race brands always have some type of promotion in effect. Follow them on social media, subscribe to emails, and take advantage of daily special deals on websites like Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon Local.
Trifecta Pass, Season Pass, and now the Unbreakable Pass
If you’ve got one Trifecta in your sights, this might be the way to go. Look for a Trifecta Weekend near you and save on travel costs!
For weekend warriors like me, the Season Pass is the best deal. Unlimited races, multiple laps, and decent swag. You also get a Spartan+ membership, discounts at the merch tent, and the option to buy buddy passes (discounted races for a friend).
Spartan also recently announced The Unbreakable Pass. This is a high-ticket item that includes every Spartan brand (including Tough Mudder, Spartan Trail, Hurricane Heats, Deka and even the Death Race), in any country, for 3 years.
Carpooling is an obvious means of cutting down on spending; but if you live in Florida like I do, there are very few races where I don’t fly.
Choose an airline and stick with it whenever possible. There are many frequent flyer programs that can reduce costs and increase convenience.
I predominantly fly Southwest and exclusively use the Chase Southwest credit card, accruing as many points as possible. I fly almost entirely on points, enjoy A-list boarding, and my companion flies for free. Southwest is also the easiest to deal with when flights need to be cancelled or rescheduled.
Alternatively, look for flights into some lesser-known airports like Beckley, West Virginia or Lehigh Valley International where smaller airlines may fly too for cheap. Pack light, and don’t check bags!
Like with flying, find a rewards program that provides discounted rates and convenient perks. Estimate your travel mileage when deciding how to pay for gas. Decline GPS, Transponders and any other bells and whistles. And I hate to say it, but let's choose fuel economy over comfort or coolness.
Pick a brand – and stay there. Choose a brand that rewards you with discounts and upgrades. Since these venues are commonly three towns over from the middle of nowhere, consider using a specific 3rd party travel site and earn points that way.
Another common way of keeping costs in check is sharing an Airbnb with other racers. You can also camp! Some venues have camping onsite. If not, consider using Hipcamp or similar site. They are the Airbnb of camping.
Bring any food with you that you can (I take a 3 oz. bottle of MCT Oil with me) and supplements. I try to travel light, but still want to limit what I’ll have to buy while traveling. Buy food at the grocery store rather than going out. It’s tough to find power food in many of these areas anyways.
Buy quality gear! Yes, you heard me. That might seem counterintuitive; but if you’re going to make a lifestyle out of this – and you will – your old high school gym shoes aren’t going to cut it. Buy quality gear that can handle what you’re going to put them through.
A more economical choice would be to look for a gear swap. You can often find groups for this on Facebook.
Races are about individual performance, but this is a community sport. So, get social! Join groups on Facebook. I’m an Ambassador to Spartan 4-0 and a member of other Spartan, Savage, Marathon and Ultra groups as well.
These are wonderful places to meet like-minded people and get the opportunity to coordinate travel, lodging, buy and sell race codes, etc.
Also, there are ambassadors for everything, most of which have discount codes that are available to you. Never pay full price.
Better yet, become an ambassador! Share your experiences and get discounts to do it.
Nick Klingensmith is an amateur obstacle course racer closing in on his 100th OCR. He’s completed 5 major marathons and is currently training for the Berlin Marathon in September. An ambassador for MudGear and Spartan 4-0, Nick is the author of Through the Fire. Nick works as an executive in the logistics industry and lives in Seminole, Florida, with his wife and two dogs.
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