Running the sums on running

Dropping bones on specialty coffee and trail running

Half way through a mind shattering and leg numbing run in Belmont Regional Park the other day, I was thinking about how awesome trail running was. Going for a hoon through some trails with waterfalls, native birds and crazy views is something everyone should experience.

"Running is great because it’s so simple”.

It dawned on me that it could be for everyone, but actually there’s a massive financial barrier that may stop a lot of people from getting amongst it, particularly if you want to get into events.

Cold hard cash

It turns out, entering an event adds up.

  • Entry fee: $130

  • Online coaching: $17.25 per week x 23 weeks = $396

  • Compulsory gear [that is gear I have to have on course]: Seam sealed jacket ($225), polyprop top and hat ($50), survival blanket ($20), gloves ($40), water bottles/flasks/hydropak ($50)

  • Food: $3.50/gel - 4-5 gels per long run, 8 long runs for training = $140ish

  • Bag to carry it all: $200 (now like half that price!)

  • Shoes: 2 pairs across all the training: $300

  • Accommodation: Free! (thanks Matt)

  • Transport: Free! (thanks wife)

All up $1500 ish.

Holy shit.

I’ve been training for this for 19 weeks - it’ll be 23 weeks all up, so the cost has been spread out over that time.

Wow - that’s $67 a week.

For most people, that’s out of reach. I know I’m fortunate that I am able to do that - and I’m basically not doing anything else as a result!

That’s a lot of money just to go for a jog in the bush.

“Running is great because it’s so simple…”

Now, I don’t have to pay for the training (but what’s the point of doing the event if I don’t try right?), and I didn’t have to buy the fancy bag (one of the cheapest ones I could find for the comfort levels it provided.) I also didn’t have to do the event.

And a lot of the gear, now I have it, will be used for ages. So, the next run will be cheaper, and cheaper, and cheaper.

I also feel like Im sort of doing it on the cheap too. Like, actually. I could do the personalized training, I could buy the fancy gear, I could buy the fancy food and gels. So, for most people, doing this just isn’t an option.

And that is super sad - because doing events like this are super fun, and should be something everyone should be able to enjoy.

Running is great because it’s so simple.


"Running is brilliant," local runner James Polk announced after a trail run Tuesday evening, pausing to stop his $400 GPS watch. "It's great because it's so simple."

"You don't need a lot of stuff," he added, unzipping his $150 lightweight thermal vest with stowable hood. "Just a pair of shoes and a road or trail."


That quote is from this article, linked also at the top of the blog. It’s funny. And too true: Dumbrunner

So, how do people get on the buzz, for free?

Don’t do events.

It’s simple.

If you want to enjoy the fun of trail running, and you want to do it for free, you simply can’t do events.

You can run or walk up the Belmont Trig for free. Nude if you want (you’ll end up looking like this - but nude, and much colder).

Events cost coin because they’re expensive to put on. To make sure they’re not responsible for your death, you have to carry a bunch of expensive mandatory gear. To feel like you get the most out of the challenge, you have to pay for training.

But you don’t have to. You can bust out a trail run, in your backyard, without all the gear. Without all the cost. Without all the wank. And probably have the same about of fun.

Shiiiit - that sounds just like coffee…

Hot dam - trail running is just like coffee.

It can be super expensive and super inaccessible to a lot of people, but it can be just as amazing if you cut out the wank and take the pressure off!

Cold hard cash - part 2

Oh no, not this again…

  • Filter papers: 4 x coffee a day @ approx $0.15 each x 7 days = $4.20/week

  • Filter coffee: 4 x coffee a day @ approx 15g per coffee @ $1.20 each serve x 7 days = $33.00/week

  • Espresso coffee: 1 x long black a day @ $4 from mojo x 4 = $16

$53 per week on coffee. Plus the actual purchase of a filter brewer, scales, etc etc etc.

Shit, that can’t be right.

Oh my.

The same coffee consumption, but with a Moccona instant, would be about $12.

My coffee enjoyment vs a Moccona lover’s enjoyment? Well, it’d be about the same… for about 75% less cost.

That’s the thing - our enjoyment levels are the same. The way we get there is different. So who is right? We both are.

Is our gatekeeping getting in the way of other people enjoying the things we love?

When you get into a new hobby, you sort of get consumed with all the accoutrements that go with it. You spend a bit of money, you collect the gear, you read the blogs, you download the podcasts.

The risk is that when you go too deep too fast, as I’m inclined to do, you can become too evangelical about it all, and become a gatekeeper.

You want people to get on board with the latest, most amazing coffee in the world, but then you say ‘you’ll get the most out of this if you have a V60, and the Fellow grinder, and the Hario kettle’ etc etc. Most people just want to dabble at first - the pressure to get stuff, buy the training, get the GPS watch, put people off.

You don’t NEED any of that to enjoy it.

The opposite of what most of us want to do - we just want to share our love of something with the people we love. Cos that’s love, man.

If we’re mindful of that though, then we can encourage far more people to come on the ride with us.

Or the run.