On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Monday, December 3, 2012

Race insurance! Is this a Thing? I hope so!

Evidently I should be reading Slowtitch/triathlon forums! (Forums? Fora? Whatevs.) I got an email last week, directing me to this article about a new feature that Active is offering: race insurance.

For $7, your race entry fee is insured. Their policy states that:

“With Registration Protector, a participant who misses an event for a covered reason such as an injury, illness, job loss, transportation delays, military/family/legal obligations, and more can get their registration fees reimbursed.”

I love it. Compared to the fact that you're already paying Active's fees, this is literally a small price to pay - I couldn't find a chart of Active's fees, but I think they start around $3 and go up from there depending on the cost of the race registration. It's unclear what proof they'll need for "family obligations," but in the case of an illness, all they require is a letter from one's doctor (can that letter say that my "injury" is a failure to train, hm?). I will happily pony up the $7 for insurance on the more expensive races if it means peace of mind that I might get my race registration fee back if I can't run.

If you ask me, and I get that you didn't, the race registration system as it currently exists is broken. The "no refunds" policy of race directors, coupled with races that sell out months in advance, creates a system that doesn't fully benefit either runners or race organizers, and we need a new system. My theory, if you were curious, is that it's a model that worked well in the '80s and '90s, when racing was less popular. Runners didn't have to register months in advance for races. The tiered pricing structure gave a financial incentive to register in advance to the runners, and that gave much needed cash upfront to the race directors.

That said, right now demand outstrips supply (at least in NYC), and there's no incentive for a race director who can easily fill his races to change the registration model to make it more runner-friendly. I mean, here in NYC, we have 250 runners registered for a marathon with no set date.


  1. I would even spend TEN dollars on race insurance for a half/marathon! Brilliant! Can we start our own race insurance company? What shall we name it?