How much of your fun run entry fee goes to charity?

Let’s face it, it costs a bit to enter a fun run these days. You’d be hard pressed to enter a marathon for much under $100 anywhere on the eastern seaboard from Brisbane to Melbourne (the Sydney M7 is a bargain at $80), and most half marathons are around the $90 mark. The city to surf is $65 if you get in early, the shorter runs associated with the Sydney Running Festival (better known as the bridge run) will set you back $55 and $40 (early bird entry) for the 9km and 3.5km respectively.

Let’s face it, it costs a bit to enter a fun run these days. You’d be hard pressed to enter a marathon for much under $100 anywhere on the eastern seaboard from Brisbane to Melbourne (the Sydney M7 is a bargain at $80), and most half marathons are around the $90 mark. The city to surf is $65 if you get in early, the shorter runs associated with the Sydney Running Festival (better known as the bridge run) will set you back $55 and $40 (early bird entry) for the 9km and 3.5km respectively.

I often hear my runners say they don’t mind the high fees to enter fun runs, as it’s helping charity. So I thought I’d take a look at just how much of your fun run entry dollar goes to charity.

I approached the organisers of a few events via email, to get a feel for what money goes where. Here are some of the responses.


I own a  running training and coaching business and many of my runners are interested to know where their entry fees for various fun runs go to. Just wondering if you could clarify a few things for me.  Does any of the entry fee go to charity? and if so is that tied to people connected to that charity volunteering -eg the SES.

We’re also interested to know what percentage of the entry fee goes towards the actual running of the event, and what goes to the event manager? Any light you could shed on these questions would be apprectiated. thanks Kirsten Todd Hooked on Health Hooked on Running

Reply from GOLD COAST MARATHON (and half marathon, 10km, 5km and 4km and 2km kids dashes).

All entry fees go to running the event. Our organisation is a not for profit organisation and as such we seek commercial sponsorship and government funding to heavily subsides our entry fees. As a consequence, we do not have the surplus to be able to designate any of the entry fee towards Charity. (My emphasis)

 We are however heavily involved in promoting Charity Organisations such as Cancer Council Queensland and enlisting Every Day Heroes. To date we have managed to raise over half a million dollars for Charity.

Reply from FAIRFAX EVENTS regarding City to Surf
(they also run SMH Half Marathon, Australian Running Festival which includes the Canberra Marathon, Cole Classic Swim, Sun Run, Run4Fun). 

It took a few goes to get any real information from them at all, and that was simply that they couldn’t give me any information!

Across all events run by Fairfax Media, In return for your entry fee into our events, you will receive a range of items depending on the event:

– A chest bib and timing tag (attached to the back of the bib)
– A finisher’s medal
– Public transport to and from the event, on event day
– Baggage transport from start to finish line
– Gatorade and water during and immediately after the race
– The Sun-Herald newspaper (on race day, whilst stocks last)
– Entertainment along the course and at the finish line
– Downloadable certificate

An event as large as the events that we coordinate, is very expensive to organise and execute each year. Without the support of there partners and over 3,000 volunteers it would not be possible to run such a large community event.

Representatives from various community organisations all over Sydney such as Rotary and Lions Clubs, Scouts and Girl Guides, various sporting groups, volunteer bush fire brigades, State Emergency Services, St John Ambulance and school groups help out on the day. Each of these organisations receives a per volunteer donation in appreciation for their assistance. 

Hi Zane

I did read all of this on the city to surf website, but thanks for sending it through again. So can I clarify, that any money from entry fees that goes to charity goes to organisations who supply volunteers for the event, and any profits from the event goes to Fairfax media, or I guess Fairfax events?


Thank you for your email. Entrants do have the opportunity to fundraise for a chosen charity or make a one off donation during the registration process. Volunteer groups do receive a donation per person for their efforts throughout event day

Thanks once again. We were already pretty clear on that. What is of interest to us is whether or not these events are a profit making venture for Fairfax media or Fairfax events.


Thank you for your email. I’m afraid we won’t be able to disclose this information to you. If you do have any other questions that we might be able to help with feel free to get in contact. 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken that to mean that Fairfax Events might well turn a profit from these events, and there is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love these fun runs. They are a great community event, they get people off their bums so they feel better physically and emotionally, and a lot of money is mobilised for charity because these events exist.

But know this: For most of the larger fun run events, little or none of your actual entry fee goes to charity, unless a donation is being made on a per volunteer basis to charitable organisations such as scouts, SES, surf lifesaving etc, who provide manpower on the day. If you want all your training and your run on the day to help a charity, you need to donate to your chosen charity during the entry process, or actively raise funds by seeking sponsorship for your run, or by some other kind of fun raising.

Or……….. you could enter some of the smaller local events, which tend to cost less. A fair chunk of your entry fee can be donated to charity, due to the volunteer of the event organisers. 

I asked a similar question of some local event organisers. Here are their responses:


Hello Kirsten,

The Roseville Chase Rotary Fun Run is organised primarily as a Community event to encourage good health and provide an opportunity for local family to participate in a community event.  Our event caters for serious runner and of leisurely walkers.

 Regarding the the Registration fees, approximately half the fees collected are used in expenses associated with the event.  The other 50% all goes to support local , National and International causes and project that our Rotary Club is directly supporting or that Rotary International is supporting. 

 Rotary does not use any of the charity funds it raises on administration, marketing or promotional costs.

 If you require more information go to


I received a really helpful two page document from the organisers of the mimimos (thanks to Cherelle Martin). The mimimos is 100% run by volunteers, so no salaries need to be paid from your entry fees. Mosman Public School has been running the Minimos for 30 years now, so they are pretty efficient at it. It’s always a really well run event which I can highly recommend.

Here are some interesting facts about the Mini-Mos

  • The break even point where the fun run costs are covered is roughly 1600-1800 entrants. Entries vary from year to year,  so it’s not possible to say exactly how much of your individual entry fee goes directly to the school.
  • At $45 for 10km, $35 for 5km, and $22.50 for 2 km, entry fees compare favourably to larger events
  • As well as raising money for the school, the fun run provides a platform for raising funds for other charities. Like most runs theses days, participants can set up individual sponsorship pages and can make a donation online during the registration process. Other initiatives also raise funds for charities such as the Tony Abbott Challenge and items provided by high profile Minimos ambassadors for auction.
  • In 2013, the Mini-Mos Fun Run raised nearly $50,000 for the school and $30, 000 for charity

Just wanted to set the record straight. 

The Value of Fun Runs

Setting yourself the goal of a few fun runs each year helps you stick to a regular running programme, and sticking to a regular programme can bring many benefits. These include elevated self confidence, stress release, improved cardiovascular health, increased bone density and of course the runner’s high.

Long runs are fantastic for sorting your thoughts and solving life’s problems.

Run with friends and solve the problems of the world. Interval training is also a great stress release. Run like the wind and release any pent up aggression or frustration. Running intervals with a group can push you just that bit harder, just that bit faster.

Running helps train the mind as well as the body. Your focus and determination in overcoming the obstacles that running can throw up (hills, rain, injuries, rain, fatigue, oh and did I mention rain?) can give you the confidence and determination to overcome challenges in the rest of your life.

Challenging yourself in a fun run can give you a wonderful sense of achievement. So, set yourself a goal, choose a fun run or a few fun runs and stick with the training consistently and reap the benefits. Try to improve your times year on year for particular fun runs, or aim for a best time over a certain distance, or just a faster pace than previously set in races of shorter distances.

There are heaps of fun runs to choose from, with more being added to the calendar each year. You’d be mad to try to do all the runs, not only from a physical point of view. The entry fees could also send you slowly broke, so I thought I take a look at a few of the major runs and rate them in terms of value for money.

The entry fee is the early bird entry fee unless otherwise stated.

Fun RunEntry FeeCost/kmGood BitsNot So Good Bits
Sun Run Dee Why to Manly 4th Feb Distance: approx 6.5km Terrain:One big hill heading out of Dee Why, the rest undulating$45$6.92Scenic and interesting routeRun on wide roads which are closed to traffic so no bottle necksIn it’s first year last year, lots of water was supplied, so can only assume the same this year

Weather hot and humid this time of year, so not a good one if you don’t run well in the heat.The price –$6.92 per km is a bit steepNot a certified accurate course

Not a standard distance-can’t compare your times against other races of the same distance

Have to pick up a race pack at the event expo prior to race day.

As this is a point to point course, need to make your way back to Dee Why after the race

Lindfield Rotary Fun Run 1st April Starts and finishesat Roseville park. Winds around the hilly streets of Roseville and Lindfield Distance:10km and 5km Terrain. Bloody Hilly$28$65 family$2.80 10km$5.60 5km$1.62/km for family of 4 running 10km

Certified accurate course so you know what you’re running, mostly – there was a little glitch 2 years ago when one official sent the runners the wrong way, but that was such a debacle that the very friendly and dedicated people who run the event will be doing everything in their power to make sure it doesn’t happen againVery challenging courseStandard race distances of 5km and 10km so comparable in distance  to other fun runs, but you’d be hard pressed to come across another that was so hilly

Reasonable number of toilets.

Price. When a family of 4 or 5 or 6 (or possibly more) can register for a 10km run for 65 bucks, you know you’re on a winner.

Race bibs mailed prior to race day for early bird entries, or pick up on the day for late entries

Entries on the day


Very challenging courseDrinks at 5km turn around only (from memory, but please add comments below if I’m wrong) so if it’s a hot day it’s hard going10km is 2  laps of the 5km course, so if you didn’t like it the first time, you’re not exactly going to love it the second time round

Australian Running FestivalCanberra14th and 15th AprilDistance: Marathon, half, 10km and 5km

Terrain: marathon and half marathon, not as flat as you might expect for Canberra

Marathon $109Half$8910km $47$2.60$4.22$4.70Well organised Water stations every 2.5km, energy drinks at every 2ndwater station.Marathon and Half Marathon, good course with enough room at the start to avoid bottlenecksKits posted if register in earlybird time frame10km is 3 and a bit laps of the course, so front runners have to weave their way through half the field.Multiple laps of the course means lots of corners to slow you down.Have to pick up kit from expo, not on the day, if miss early bird cut off.

Mother’s Day Fun RunThe Domain, (Paramatta, and other venues around the country)Distance 4km, 8km

Terrain: flat to undulating

$35 +$4 timing feeFamily of 2 adults and up to 6 children $70 + timing fee$4.37 for 8km, less if family

face kits sent out if earl bird entry or else pick up on the dayHigh profile community eventPleasant surrounds of The Domain Activities for the kids

4km is a good race for the kids

It seems they have finally got their timing right, starting the 4km event 40 minutes prior to the start of the 8km.Most of the 4km runners should be off the course before the 8km runners reach the 3km mark.

Walkers and runners have been separated into different time slots, but as always there are some people who jump in with the run who never have any intention of running-very frustrating as you’re ducking and weaving around them

Good vantage point for family and friends to watch on art gallery road opposite the art gallery. 4km runners come past twice, 8kers 4 times.

Sufficient toilets

Lots of kids who seem to have no idea that there is anyone else on the course – my own son included! Be aware they will run in front of you and you could easily be tripped up if you’re not watching what you’re doingLots of people generally, especially in the 4km, so it can be hard to get a decent rhythm going

SMH Half MarathonMay 20thSydney

Terrain: undulating, but there are plenty of stretches for good tempo running

$892011 prices$4.21

High profile event with lots of runnersHigh quality field and a good vibeA community event which lots of people know about, so you’re likely to get more support from friends and work colleagues than if you were running a lesser known event. Great for boosting morale

Some interesting scenery, though though the move to run through Pyrmont has added some rather drab bits

Good vantage points for spectators if they are prepared to move around the city a bit

Sufficient drink stations

Parking close by the start and finish point in the Domain, but be warned… plan to arrive very early if you are driving in or else you’ll still be in traffic when the race starts

Sufficient toilets at the start of the race

Large number of runners causing congestion in some spots could mean you have to slow to a walk around some cornersA couple of people told me last year they wouldn’t do it again as there were too many people intent on getting a good time happy to elbow you aside.

Minimos Marathon17thJuneDistance: 10km, 5km and kids 2km

Terrain: undulating to hilly

10km $355km $25,2km $15$3.50$5.00$7.50

Certified accurate courseWell organisedReasonably priced if you get in early

Times staggered so the whole family can run at differnt times allowing for one parent to care for kids whilst other is running.

Kids 2km – very popular and just a few small hills to keep them honest

School fare run in conjunction with the run, so lots of yummy cakes to refuel on afterwards

Registration on the day

Kits mailed out if early bird entry

School toilets are open so plenty to go around

The organisers have this one down pat. The only thing I can say is beware of what you buy at the 2ndhand toy store. If it has multiple bits, make sure they are all there!!Can be pretty cold in the middle of winterToilet cubicle doors only come up to chest height so if you don’t’ want someone watching you pulling up your undies, duck.

Gold Coast30th June & 1st JulyDistance: Marathon, Half, 10km, 5km 4km kids and 2km kids

Terrain: flat

Marathon $120Half $8510km $55

5km $40

Kids $25




Good flat course where you can get a fast timeGreat facilities – toilets, showers etcAdequate water

Pace runners

Well organised

Quite expensiveCourse is a bit monotonous-same scenery and few hillsHave to pick up race kits on the Gold coast on the day prior to your race

The Bay Run5thAugustDistance: 7km (approx) around iron cove. Kids 2km

Terrain: mostly flat with one fairly steep, shortish hill.

$24Kids $10$3.43$5.00

Good hit out before the city to surfFriendly atmosphereLots of different categories including fastest dog in the west

Kids race

Nice scenic route around Iron Cove

Pretty flat course so you can run a fast time –especially if you disregard the fact it’s about 150m short of 7k

It always seems a bit of a shemozzle at the startSome narrow parts of the course can cause bottlenecksCourse isn’t closed to the public

Long toilet cues

There always seems to be a lot of mud around the martialling area

Not a standard race distance so difficult to compare your performance against other races

City To Surf12thAugust Iconic race on theSydney running CalendarYou either love or leave it to those who do

Distance: 14km

Terrain: undulating to hilly with a fairly large hill about 1/2 way

$55$3.92Massive community event-one of those must do at least once things for many peopleParty atmosphereGreat if you are a seeded or preferred runner, but not so great if you are behind this group and ducking and weaving through crowds for the whole 14km

Crowds mean a fast run is unlikely, so best just to compare your City to Surf times year on year, rather than against other races.A one way course and 80,000 entrants means you could find it difficult to get back home in a hurry.If you’re aiming to start at the front of the group, slipping out of the pack and going to the loo before the start is not advised. You’ll be hard pressed to get back up to the front

Well priced for such an event

Sydney Running FestivalSunday 16th SeptDistance: marathon, half, 9km and 4km

Another big community fun run across the harbour bridge, which is reason enough to participate

4km $409km $55Half $85




Big community eventRun across the bridgeSufficient toilets, but get a bit on the nose given the number of people and the hot weather

Events start times now spaced out well so you don’t have traffic jams

Have to pick up race kit in the city prior to event9km and 4km are only approximate distances, so not comparable to other races. Based on people’s times last year, we estimate the 4km to be more like 4.5kmExpensive, especially the 4km and 9km distances

Usually very hot, and they still seem not to have figured out the drinks stations properly

Marathonstart of 7am is too late.

Practically have to cover another marathon to get to the baggage area to pick up your bags

Run4 funHomebushDistance: 10km

Terrain: Mostly flat

$45$4.50Well organisedGood for recording a fast timeReasonably pricedHeat
Sri Chinmoy RacesA series of races run throughout the year. Varying distances including 4km, 7km, 8km, 14km, 16km and 12km. Venues include Centennial Park, Mirambeena, Iron Cove, Dolls Point, Cooks RiverEntry fees – $27, $22 and $17, depending on the distance 

Very friendly low key events.Free pancakes afterwardsEasy parking Plenty of drinks stations

Can enter on the day

pick up race bib on the day

At $1.29per km  for a half marathon distance, these would have to be the cheapest races going around.

Good as a first time fun run if you’re feeling a little timid about it

Hand held timing device so your time is not accurate to the last secondLow key – some people prefer the hype of big high profile eventsIron Cove – tends to be a lot of walkers on the path so can get frustrating dodging people by your second lap.