I have become peeved lately. Why you might ask? Because I've been sucked into the Active.com system and blow tons of money away to them for each race entered. Mayhap it is the instant gratification of paying for an event online and knowing that it is done. But why? Why waste the money on Active.com "processing fees" when you can, over the year, run an extra race or two with that money?
What sparked this was I signed up for 4 races, all of which I had budgeted for the year. Two of them were Pacific Coast Trails races and they have their own system to process online transactions and don't charge the "processing fees". But the other two were for Muddy Buddy and the Forest of Nisene Marks Marathon, with processing fees totaling a whopping $15.00! What the?!?!?!?!?! For what? What exactly are they doing that creates that high of processing fees?
So I did a little math on two other runs that I had budgeted for the year (actually I had the San Francisco Marathon budgeted, but I figure I can run both of these for the same price as SF plus a little more. No brainer!), the Cowtown Marathon and the Two Cities Marathon. Cowtown has the marathon, half marathon, relay and a 5k. The fees vary for each one but when you take the number of entrants from each race last year and assume they all used Active then that means Active is making $11,754 in processing fees!!!!! Even assuming half the runners didn't use Active that is still close to $6,000.
I did the same thing with the Two Cities Marathon, which has a marathon, half marathon run, half marathon walk and a relay. Now the marathon is an inaugural marathon so nothing to base it off of, but they have a cap of 3,000, so I will use that total. Using their fees it comes to $20,112! Assuming half, then it would be $10,000.
And what are they "processing"? They host the race info and the results (sometimes) and process the fees. Is this really worth $16,000-$32,000 in processing fees? And that is for only 2 races. Add this up for all the races and they are making that much in processing. A complete waste of money and, I might add, the fees don't represent anywhere near what we, as runners, are receiving in return.
So from here on I will not be using Active. In fact I will veto it every chance I get. This means a little more planning, of course, because that would mean I would have to mail in my registration form well in advance (which would also help me sign up for the race before the fees go up, another cost saver).
I encourage all of you to do the same. Save your money and apply it to a race instead of the elusive "processing fees" that Active.com charges. I am amazed that it has taken me as long as it has to realize this. $5 a race is too much, and I figure I have already spent around $35 this year on the couple of races I have signed up for through Active.com. Perhaps if they would have kept it at an acceptable $1 an entrant, instead of the sliding scale that gets more and more expensive the more the race fees are (even when the race fees go up, so do the "processing fees", which is ludicrous because what processing are they doing that is now more than before?), then maybe I wouldn't have even bothered getting my panties in a bunch, and they would have still made a hefty amount of money per race regardless.
Alas, I am one in hundreds of thousands and my lone voice won't hurt them one bit, but it will certainly benefit me and give me an extra race or two if I wanted, or perhaps another pair of shoes. I think I'll take option B and use the money for myself.