Twenty years ago, when my husband and I decided we wanted to start our married life healthy, we took up running.
It was the cheapest way we could find to lose weight and get fit. After an initial purchase of a couple of pairs of running shoes, some shorts and tank tops, we knew we would not have to spend much more.
Unfortunately, shortly after entering the world of running, we discovered the best way to stay motivated was to register for races. Suddenly we had a new expense to add to our budget.
As we started running longer distances, moving from 5Ks to 10-milers to half-marathons and finally marathons, this expense began to grow.
Each year, as the New Year approaches we begin to plan our races for the next season and each year we are amazed by the final numbers. We are forced to admit the sport we began as the cheapest alternative has become a major expense in our budget.
Fortunately, we live in Annapolis and have been members of the Annapolis Striders for almost 16 years. Our local races are not just reasonably inexpensive, they are downright cheap.
Whereas our nonStriders races cost us between $30 and $150 each, the Annapolis Striders have managed to keep most of their races to less $10 even for nonmembers.
But the deal that has my friends from across the country green with envy is the Championship Series. Registration for the series opened with the New Year and includes eight races for just $20 for club members.
The races range in distance from 1-16 miles and take place from February to December, giving local runners race goals to reach for throughout the year.
While the larger races in Washington, DC, Baltimore and even the Striders' own Annapolis Ten Miler offer race shirts, an expo and several other perks that are not available at the Championship Series races, these races are anything but bare bones.
They are well-run and well-supported by the Striders and the community at large. In addition, because each race is scored based on your placement within your age group and your attendance at each race, the series gives all runners the opportunity to add a little competition to their running.
Having rediscovered the series this past year, my husband and I are once again pleased to say we have picked a sport that brings us health, fitness and a decided social impact at the cheapest price.