After last year's Seattle Marathon, the Seattle Times reported that just 1% of marathon money was going to charity. This was big news for runners, who were let to believe that some portion their $120 entry fee was destined for charitable purposes. In fact, the Marathon was clearing $1 million each year, diverting $330,000 towards race employee compensation, and leaving little to plug into next year's race, let alone charity. The Marathon, a non-profit entity, even has a board of directors giving the thumbs up.
Today the Times reports that the Marathon has a new primary sponsor and no longer claims to benefit a specific charity. But otherwise it sounds like business as usual.
The Seattle Marathon's lack of transparency and misleading claims in '07 earned them a pile of criticism; justified in our opinion. Race directors can do whatever they like in setting entry fees and determining how to allocate the proceeds, but runners should be comfortable asking, and RDs comfortable answering, basic questions about where those fees go.