A Tale of Two Races: #CUCB and #NWMDC

Next April there will be two races in DC that require entry via lottery: Credit Union Cherry Blossom (CUCB) 10 Miler, now in its 41st year, and the inaugural Nike Women’s DC Half Marathon (NWMDC). Both races will accept 15,000 runners. And that’s where the similarities end.

Because while the entry fee for CUCB is a fair (perhaps even low!) $40, NWMDC is charging $160 for the extra 3.1 miles. “Oh, but you get a Tiffany necklace handed to you buy a guy in a tux!” exclaimed one friend when I told her I thought the entry fee was ludicrous. Well, that’s nice. But is it worth $160?

I’ve written about expensive races before, and I thought we were in a recession, but I’m flabbergasted by the number of women (many of them my friends!) who are clamoring to enter this race. Note that this is the first year Nike is holding the race in DC and they know they need a lottery. One of my friends who entered said that she’s tried THREE times to get in the San Francisco race, to no avail. (If you’re a two-time consecutive CUCB lottery loser, you get an automatic entry for the 3rd year.) And when NWM asked runners on their Facebook page where people were traveling from for the race, responses included Long Beach, CA and Honolulu, HI! Guess they couldn’t get into the San Francisco race, either.

Granted, NWMDC does benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. But CUCB supports the Childrens Miracle Network Hospitals. Two races for two worthy causes. One costs $4 per mile, the other $12.21. Ka-Ching.

I’ve run CUCB 4 times, most recently last year. It remains one of my favorite races. It is well-organized, the course is beautiful, the spectators plentiful. People complain that it’s crowded. I respond that I always have someone to run with and someone to chase. CUCB accepts 15,000 runners. Likewise, NWMDC “will host 15,000 fierce women” although if you’re a guy you’re allowed to enter since not allowing men would be discrimination. Just watch out for the 15,000 fierce women who may not want you there.

The lottery for NWMDC closes December 6th. CUCB lottery opens December 3rd.

What do you think about the $160 race entry fee?
Are you entering either lottery?
Do you think races are getting too expensive?

Twitter links:
Racingtales: @racingtales
NWMDC: @nikewmsmarathon

Facebook links:


  1. I signed up for NWHM – only because it’s the inaugural year in DC – other than that I wouldn’t have registered for such an expensive race!
    Kat recently posted..Shocking, isn’t it?My Profile

  2. Nope. No way. I am staying away from the big corporate races. They are well organized but just leave a bad taste in my mouth. I think it depends where you are in your running life as well. I am sure 4 or 5 years ago I would have been all over this race…not so much now.
    Jessica Karazsia (@irun26at8) recently posted..HCA Virginia 8kMy Profile

  3. I paid that much for the Disney Marathon. But it’s Disney! And I know the race will be fabulous! Not sure I would pay that for any other race though. But I am a Disney freak too so that could explain my willingness to pay that much!
    Mindy @ Road Runner Girl recently posted..Knee Check!My Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      And it’s a MARATHON – twice as far! I actually raced Disney Marathon in 2006 – it was $110 and I thought that was CRAZY but I really wanted to run it so I paid up. Totally worth the price because I got a BQ! Disney puts on a good event, you will LOVE it!

  4. I would love to run the NWHDC or any of their races but the price, as you say is absurd. You bring up so many good points. I suppose if you race once a year, than doing a race like this would great. Personally, I feel why pay this much for a race when you could do two equally nice races for the same price. Being a military family and living in SoCal we can afford very few extras… the reason I’ve never run Disney either. Once again you bring a us a very thoughtful and informative post.
    Lisa McClellan recently posted..10 Holiday Gift Ideas for RunnersMy Profile

  5. I agree the prices are crazy, but I feel like my race schedule is varied enough to allow me to do a mix of high cost, big events (like Nike, or even Disney) and local, lower-priced ones.

    For example, I am running a local marathon this weekend ($45) but will turn around and run WDW Marathon for $150+ in January….I try to find ways to get discounts (NWM 1/2 has guaranteed and discounted entry for college students, $125) or comped into races (ambassador work, blogging – Blue Ridge Marathon, San Francisco Marathon) .
    Krissy @ Shiawase Life recently posted..wordless wednesday.My Profile

  6. I think $160 is ABSURD! Never in my life would I pay that. This is such a perfect example of the nonsense that is going on with race pricing. I just posted today about things I don’t get in running, and a $150/half was one of them–this is the one that inspired that comment.

    I’m throwing my hat into CB for sure!
    misszippy1 recently posted..#10 Things I don’t getMy Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      We are so alike it’s scary…not only that, but we commented on one another’s posts at the same time yesterday, and now we both post about expensive races today…ok, too weird! Oh, and we’re both OLD curmudgeons. πŸ˜‰

  7. I refuse to run the Nike Half out of principle alone. Runners keep paying these ridiculous entry fees and then more races up their fees as well. It’s nearly impossible to find bare bone cheap races anymore. I don’t need a medal, I don’t need a mylar blanket, I don’t even need a t-shirt. I just want to race! I respect the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler for keeping their entry fee more than reasonable.
    Kris @ http://www.kris-lawrence.com recently posted..Turkey Trotting on Forbidden Trail in Philly, PAMy Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      I agree that it could drive up other races’ fees. I think the medal and t-shirt are important for a lot of people which is why the “bling” factor is often touted so much, mostly at these big races.

  8. Honestly, my aversion to the NWHM is less price than the fact that there’s no course map. I’d like to at least know where a race is going to be before signing up. There are just so many established races in DC. I can’t imagine that the Nike race won’t be very similar to one of those.
    Carly D. @ CarlyBananas recently posted..Hey Running…I’m Starting to Think We Should See Other PeopleMy Profile

  9. This so reminds me of the Chocolate race in DC last year where a bunch of idiots signed up because of the word chocolate. It was the worst race in history. The race director bungled his job and lied about why they messed up. It was unsafe, overcrowded, and mismanaged.

    You would think people would learn.

    • Racingtales says:

      Ha ha Kirsty that’s funny because I blogged about that race catastrophe and did a jacket giveaway donated by a runner! It was noted that DC is no longer on their list of destinations! I think that because NWM is a success in San Francisco it’s assumed they know what they’re doing…of course only time will tell!

  10. I am putting my name in for the CB. I am from the west coast and will be in town for a meeting and the race sounds awesome — the price wasn’t really a deciding factor. If the Nike Women’s half was when I happened to be in town I would put my name in for that just for the opportunity of running through DC.

    This year I did run one of the rock n’ roll halfs ($100). I am not sure that was worth it because other than a fast course and jamba juice at the end, I really didn’t get anything special — I don’t really care about the medals and I can’t say I ever wear the shirts.

    I have run the Nike Women’s half in San Francisco twice. The necklaces are nice, and the course is beautiful. It was a fun time with lots of enthusiastic people and I don’t regret spending the money.

    The next half marathon I am registering for is $55 and will also have a beautiful course.

    • Racingtales says:

      Hey Kristen thanks for commenting! Hope you get into CB but if you don’t, check out runwashington.com for other races while you’re in the area. I admit that living here has spoiled me and I don’t appreciate that I can run or race in DC whenever I want. I’ll even admit to thinking, “oh, we’re running by the monuments AGAIN?” and getting excited when a race went through Anacostia for a change!

  11. I ran NWMSF in 2005 I think, before the lotto. I don’t know what I paid, but I know it was a lot. That being said it was my 1st (and only marathon) and it was a bad time for me (I didn’t fully realize WHAT I was getting myself in to!) I plan to one day try my hand at the lotto to run again – not for the shirt or the necklace (but I did love the necklace from that year!) but because I want to beat it, not let it beat me. Also, every year my husband has run the RnR Las Vegas, I’ve volunteered every year but this year I sucked up I think the $130 price and decided to run it. For that price I doubt I will run it again. Who knows after this weekend I might change my mind. Yes, I think that they are getting expensive. But then again I’m also cheap! πŸ™‚ I really think anything over $100 is pushing it. I get that there are costs with each race, but sometimes the costs just get to be too much! And today I was excited because I signed up for a Super Bowl 10K for under $30!!! DEAL! Sorry! I think I’ve rambled on enough!

    • Racingtales says:

      Cassie, I love your rambling! I feel the same way…sometimes I pay $$ if it’s a race I really want to do. I paid $250 to do a Half Ironman but since almost all of them are that price it wasn’t like I had much choice if I wanted to do one! I did get early bird pricing of $199 for the next one! I don’t think you’re cheap. And when you can find races like that Super Bowl 10K for just $30, it shows racing doesn’t have to be expensive!

  12. I put my name in for Nike and I am going to pay the high fee. These large races are an experience and I want to find out what I like and whether it’s worth it. The Hot Chocolate was horrible. I will never run a race that has a bad course like that (among other things). The Cherry Blossom was amazing. The Rock and Roll was just OK, but I would do it again. If I get into Nike, I don’t have to do it again, but I can try it and see…the course looks as good as the CB and with all the raving from SF, at least I will know whether I didn’t miss something. My running career started too late in life…I have some catching up to do πŸ™‚

  13. I look at a race as a experience… I paid 125 to run the NYC Half, a lot of people thought it was too much and complained for months for me it was worth it to have my 1st half marathon be in my beloved NYC. Would I pay $160? if it was a race I really really wanted to do ? yup! with that said i usually do go for smaller cheaper local races and for the record id pick the classic cherry blossom (i may apply even though im in NY) over nwhm πŸ˜‰
    josephine recently posted..Gone Streaking and Getting RippedMy Profile

  14. The only way I think that would make sense is if it was race day fee of registration, and they just priced it crazy high saying, “sure, you can register at the very last minute, but it’s going to cost you.”

    I think I paid that same amount for the RnR half marathon in Chicago when I registered at the last minute.
    Mark Matthews recently posted..Spring Marathon ~ Which One To Do?My Profile

  15. I think it’s way too expensive for a half. I prefer half marathons to less than $80! But that didn’t stop me from entering the lottery. I figure this is a “special” race (like Disney as others have mentioned — I’ve run Goofy, Princess Half, and marathon relay). I do make exceptions πŸ™‚ If I get in, great … but I likely won’t do it again (assuming they come back). One thing to note — when I signed up for the lottery, it said “Shirt size not guaranteed.” Um, what? If I pay $160 for a race, my shirt better be the one I requested!
    Lauren @ mostly i run recently posted..hbbc: working out this holiday seasonMy Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      Non-guaranteed shirt size is very sucky. When I go to races if they don’t have XS for me I get XL for my husband. But a $160 race should guarantee your shirt size. It’s not like you’re signing up late. Thanks for commenting, Lauren!

  16. I agree- I am not interested in paying that much for a race. Race fees are taking up a significant line in our budget these days! I’m definitely pulled to the more affordable local races. I’ve always wanted to do the Cherry Blossom (especially when we were living in the northeast) and it sold out so quickly. A lottery might give me a chance of running it some day. πŸ™‚
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Marathon training recap + Menu Planning Link upMy Profile


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