The Really Big Free Marathon

If you’ve been following me on Instagram and Twitter today, you know that Alan and I are in Las Vegas for the Really Big Free Marathon and Half Marathon. It is actually in the Lake Mead National Recreation area, and it is truly one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen.


To answer the question that I know you must have, yes it really was free. As unbelievable as that sounds, the great people at IO Events managed to pull it off with style, awesome sponsors, and a little blood sweat and tears. They got a lot of flak on their Facebook page from people saying that it couldn’t be done and that it was a scam (runners paid a “commitment fee,” of $50 which was refunded to them.)

Well, about 2,200 runners and I are here to tell you that it could be done and done well. Yes, there were a few glitches, but this was the first event of it’s kind, and even races that charge $160 have glitches.

Alan was the announcer, so we were out here early after spending the night in our awesome one bedroom suite at the host hotel, the Aston Montelago Village Resort at Lake Las Vegas.

The marathon was scheduled to start at 6:00, but was delayed about 25 minutes until it was light enough to see (not a lot of ambient light out here at Lake Mead). The half marathon was also delayed because of runners having difficulty parking. That was one of the glitches that the race directors will address before the next Really Big Free race in the series, which is on May 18, 2013 in Carlsbad (half marathon only).

As for me, I’m not in half marathon shape, so, after the races started I took a six mile run out along the course. Did I say this is one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen?

It is now 6:45 into the marathon, and I’m writing this on my phone while I wait for Alan to greet the last few runners out there. I would like to say that while running a sub-3 hour marathon is an amazing accomplishment, the guts and determination that it takes to spend close to seven hours out there grinding out 26.2 miles is just as amazing.

As I mentioned, the Really Big Free Marathon is the first of it’s kind. In a time when marathon prices are climbing toward $200 (and I’m part of a couple, people!), I’m hoping that the powers that be in the marathon world take a look, see that it can be done, and react accordingly.

I am interested in your thoughts on the topic. What do you think about race prices? Are they too high? What’s important to you when you pay big money for a race? Would you be happy with a little less if you could run a free marathon (or half)? I would like to note that all runners received a t shirt, finisher’s medal, and there were awards for the first three finishers in each race plus race souvenirs for age group awards.

Let’s hear you thoughts!

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  1. says

    Oh wow! That’s amazing. I’d run a free race and expect zero in return. Double bonus to get a shirt and medal. Huh. I know the prices cover so many additional things we never realize, but some race prices are just ridiculous.
    Jen recently posted..A Running Commute? Yes Please.My Profile

  2. says

    What a cool idea! I just registered for a 5K and I was so happy they had a with swag and without option for registration. I am trying to save money and already have tons of race shirts so by registering for just the bib and nothing else I paid $30 instead of $40. Wish more races would do cheaper options.
    Free like this one would be amazing.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted..My First 5K?My Profile

  3. says

    If there was a free race I’d expect nothing in return but…well….a race. I don’t mind paying the fees as long as they’re reasonable (anything under $150, depending on the length and complexity of the race), and I get a medal, t-shirt and beer at the end (I don’t drink, but it’s nice to be offered one, nonetheless).

    I understand the complicated logistics it takes to organize, promote and orchestrate an event like this, so I have no problem with people making money as long as the product they deliver is worth the price.
    Jonathan Aluzas recently posted..Fitness for a Lifetime: Don’t Forget to Turn YOUR Clock Back!My Profile

    • says

      I agree that people should be able to make money. I also understand that some races, like triathlons, spartan-type races, etc., are a lot more expensive and complex to put on. I just think that the prices are a little bit out of control.

      Maybe part of the problems is that I’ve been racing for a long time. I remember, back in about 1998 or so, they raised the price of the LA Marathon to around $55, being careful to explain that $5 was required by the city for some fee or other. I thought that was expensive. And again, because there are two of us, I always think in terms of double. So a $150 entry fee is really $300.
      Debbie recently posted..The Really Big Free MarathonMy Profile

  4. carrie says

    It’s unfortunate, but the series had to close. (see the website
    They just couldn’t afford to keep up with the free concept. I wish they had put out a call to let us know they needed help! I donate to a lot of worthy causes, and this qualifies to me. I would have sponsored a runner or a part of a run for a few people in order to keep the idea going. At least until more corporate type sponsors could get onboard.

    • says

      Yes, I saw that. Plus apparently all of their races, even paid ones, are cancelled. It is a shame because they did put on quality events. I’m not sure what is going on. I just found out from my husband last night, and he found out the way most people did, from seeing the notice on facebook or one of their race websites.
      Debbie recently posted..2013 Blog Goals and a New Blog Design!My Profile

  5. Rachel says

    I am glad you enjoyed your race – unfortunately, I paid for it. I am one of the ones scammed by IO EVENTS and have no recourse. Karen Barnett and Richard Iddings took my $50 and promised I could roll over my Las Vegas deposit to their Southern California race. Now they are claiming they are broke so you know I won’t get a refund. My credit card company says the charge is over 60 days old, so I’m out of luck there, too. I am a four-time marathoner, so I am well aware of the NO REFUND policy 99% of races have, but I would rather donate my money to a real charity, not to line Karen and RIchard’s pockets.

    • K says

      Late to the conversation but I ran the race as well in Las Vegas and NEVER received the refund as promised. Scam.

  6. J Stroup says

    I also lost my money. I cancelled before required and kept being told I would receive my check in a couple of weeks.

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