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In the current Runners World, July, there is an article "Fund-Raising 101" (page 108) that lays out the basics for putting on a 5 km run for your favorite charity. Point No. 4 is called "Choose a Course" and they urge you to stage the 5 km on a course that has been measured and certified by USATF. They cite a race director from Delaware, a Wayne Kurch <>who says it can cost you up to $275 to have your course measured and about $125 extra to have it certified. What have I been missing all these years!
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I measure quite a few courses. When I measure a new course, I often charge $400 for a new 5K. But after I have measured a course once, and if the changes are very minor, then the measurement costs much less ($200). I think that we undervalue our efforts. Look at the breakdown.

@ $20 per hour (and that is not very much in today's scale of income for professionals) it takes me:

2-3 hours prep time before I even start the measurement. I am on the phone to the race director, making plans for the measurement, I am using Google Earth to check the length of the course that is proposed, I am suggesting areas to change the course if necessary. I make copies of the map I will measure to take with me as a reference, and I try to memorize the course so that I don't have to stop alot during the measurement. I have a good idea where the mile marks are supposed to be, and I have decided on whether to measure forwards or backwards before I get out there. And lastly, I check on my equipment. I make sure I have everything I need before I go out, or I buy or order it (nails, tape, washers, paint, batteries, working lights, and working bikes)

3 hours for the measurement-travel time, course calibration, measurement, making any adjustments, marking the course, and recording the turnaround, start and finish maps.

3 hours for a second rider. I usually have to furnish my own. And though you don't need a second rider, they are less likely to make the same mistakes you might make doing the measurement. Anything longer than a 5K and it just helps to shorten your time on the road. Here in Florida, I don't want to be out there after sun-up.

10 hours for mapwork-everything I do is electronic. That is why it costs so much less to do it the second time when there are very small changes to the course. I spend the time to make the maps something that will be easy to read, duplicate on a copier, and that I will still be proud of in 50 years. Our maps are the legacy of our work, and they will still be around in the archives long after we are gone.

There is a $30 fee to submit. Let's not forget postage and envelopes. I always use 9x12 so that my maps have no folds in them when they go to the state certifier.

I haven't even added in for the cost of the bikes, Jones counters, tape measure, bike rack, and all the accessories I take with me, which need repair and replacement as they wear out.

My $400 fee for measuring a new course is appropriate. I didn't start out making that much. I charged much less as I was learning the ropes; $250 for a new course. But my time, effort, and expertise has value. I do let people know that they may measure their own course, but after someone has had me measure once, they call me back for more measurements. I also educate my race directors as I measure. I want them as informed as possible about what we do and why we do it.

Race directors are told that having their course USATF certified makes their course more attractive to runners. Increased numbers in the attendance of their event should be worth the extra expense.

My bill always reflects the $30 fee for certification, so the race director knows how much went to the certificate and how much cost there was just for the measurement and mapwork.

I'd like to hear what others think of this. Should there be a standard that we use for costs in doing a course measurement?

I had no sooner posted my letter when I realized that I may have been looking at the Runners' World quote the wrong way. The NJ race director perhaps had situations where he didn't need/want a certification, but rather only an accurately measured course — start/finish, splits, crude map. That would be one price. But if he wanted a certified course, the measurer would have to follow USATF/RRTC procedures and submit to his/her certifier along with the fee. That would account for the "$125 extra."

What a measurer charges for services is between the measurer and the race director. He/she operates as an independent contractor. To me, measuring and certifying are practically the same thing, as I can count on one hand the number of courses I've measured that have not been certified and I've been measuring for almost 30 years.

Regards, Tom
Toni spends more time than I do, every step of the way, it appears. Speaking strictly about 5k courses, I take about an hour going over the course with the race director, and prepping. But, I make the Race Director map their course on MapMyRun. If I have to map it, I do charge more.

For most of my 5k courses, I travel less than an hour, mostly half an hour or less. It takes about 90 minutes to ride a 5k both directions, and make any spur adjustments. I use a GPS with the course pre-loaded, and mile splits as waypoints, so I am not spending any time looking at maps. I just follow my track. Saves lots of time.

I do my maps electronically, also, and make a color version of the map for my client's Cert. Even doing both color and B&W, a 5k can be mapped in under 3 hours. Final paperwork, etc., posting the maps, GPS track, photos of each split location, etc. to my Webpage for the race, and I am done.

All of that combined adds up to about 7-8 hours, maximum, for a 5k. For that I charge $275 (with the spur), complete. Take out the $30 cert fee, and it still comes to $30 per hour. Many maps take only an hour or two, so that helps.

Tom, maybe we should charge more! I have always felt that getting paid to ride my bike is a pretty good gig, but if the market will support it, a price increase may be in the future.

I use a co-measurer for Half-marathon or longer. Shorter than that doesn't seem worth the coordinating effort. I pay them half of the measuring fee (1/3 of the total price). Even so, I feel I get a pretty decent compensation for my time.

I'm with Tom on the measurement-only observation. I think I have done 2 measurement-only rides in 6 years. Not worth it to save $100 or $125 (for a 10k, since my minimum $250 fee covers a 5k cert), if you can get more runners with a cert.
None of us are in this to make money, but we should be proud of our product and charge what the market allows.

My basic rates in AZ are a lot less than they were when I lived on the East Coast. I don't look at this as a money making thing, however our expertise is worth something.

My first obligation is to explain that they can do the work. Only in the US is this allowed for first time folks to measure. I would guide the new measurer and hope we add another one to our list.

If one doesn't want to try this then I charge according to the course length and the travel distance to the event I'm measuring.

Our product is good and it has value. Just be fair and try to encourage new people to measure.
Thanks everyone for adding in to this topic. I also have not done much measuring unless I am submitting for certification. And I do as much work on the measurement whether I submit, or just measure, except for filling out the application. Since I do many Disney Race measurements, my maps take just a bit longer than a quick street map. All the kiosks are a challenge and the paths wind around. I know that for what I charge, I am not getting rich. As for encouraging others to measure, I am totally on board with that. I encourage others to look into it first and I tell them I am willing to help train people to follow protocol. But my eyes were opened wide last year when I had to stay off of a bike for longer than 6 months due to cancer. I was still working on course measurements from the logistic end and the paperwork end. People couldn't wait until I was out of physical therapy, because they didn't even want to do the biking part. You are right about it taking a special talent to do the work.
Sorry to hear about your illness, Toni. Hope you are better now.

Thanks for starting a good discussion. Concerning the "accurate measurement" fee vs. the certification fee, I always quote a miniscule difference when I am asked. In this way, I try to discourage RDs from avoiding certification just to save a few dollars. I always look up the entry fee for the event in question and then pose the fee as "an investment of 2 or 3 entry fees a year in offering an accurate course". This seems to help put the cost into perspective for some RDs.

I am interested to hear how measurers handle their fees. I like Duane's approach, but I do it slightly differently. I find that, in far less time that it takes to instruct a client how to use MapMyRun or GMaps Pedometer, I can create the map myself. If he/she has an existing course in mind, I ask for turn-by-turn directions, a hand-drawn map, or an electronic map - if they are already able to use on line tools. Then, I create a GMap of my own to confirm the distance, since the electronic maps I get are typically not done well - some can be downright confusing. I PDF the GMap and send it to my client for confirmation as the preferred route. I always explain that on line maps tend to measure short, therefore I expect to need some additional real estate to get to the certification distance. I go over the options with him/her should I determine once out there that we do need more distance.

Just as often, I am given a preferred finish area, a list of streets, or a general layout. I must then "design" a course, for which I typically charge $100.00. For "course ideas", I drop the GMap into my graphics program, add arrows, mile marks (estimated location), race name, and course proposal number. I send them the PDF and charge $25.00 for each iteration.

For 5K, I charge $450.00 for measurement and certification. This includes a good quality black and white electronic map, which I PDF for the client. I also offer the client the option to purchase a color map for web display. I charge between $150.00 to $250.00 for a color map depending on the race distance and map complexity.

I have recently taken to charging an hourly rate for course "reconnaissance" and design when the course location requires that I "ground truth" its feasibility before measuring. Lately, I am getting requests to secure permits for races, for which I charge the same hourly rate.

I charge $100.00 late fee if I am contacted for measuring less than 3 weeks before the race; $250.00 for less than 2 weeks. I have been contacted within these time parameters several times this year. Like many of us, I work nearly full time elsewhere, and it sometimes puts pressure on me to get the job done within 2 or 3 weeks.

Like Duane, I charge a "modification fee" when the measurement reveals the need to change to course plan more than the minor amount expected. A change (once I am already on site)requiring re-measurement is $100.00 for a 5K; $15.00 additional for every kilometer beyond 5K. When I must re-measure the course because the RD did not get all needed approvals for the desired route, or some other reason for another trip to the site, I offer no discount for the new measurement. I charge mileage @ $0.50 per mile for travel over 30 miles.

I have had difficulty getting paid in a timely way by some races in the last year. Therefore, I have taken to sending each client a brief written agreement in which I spell out all the fees and contingencies, and require a 50% deposit to begin work. Like Duane, I have now gone to requiring payment in full to release the completed certification map and the USATF certificate. Sure, I make exceptions to this. However, starting out giving my client this expectation has resulted in more timely payments.

I measure in a part of the country where Bob Thurston and John Sissala are active. Since many of the timing companies and friends in our region recommend certification to directors of races large and small, the three of us stay busy. The three of us feel our rates are cheap given the many hours of work that go into each job. I personally am grateful for the income as well as the opportunity to support running. Frankly, I depend on it to a degree due to my current situation of being slightly "underemployed".

I am grateful to Bob Thurston and John Sissala for all they have done out of the goodness of their hearts to teach me how to measure and hence to have these opportunities to supplement my income.
Thanks Lyman. For all curious, yes I am fine. Very rare cancer of the salivary glands, the removal of the tumor was done thru my throat, and I could not turn my head properly for many months. But I have had a clean bill of health for a full year now, and I seem to have full mobility. The cancer made me re-evaluate my work and life experience. I, too, was working too hard, and after having done no work all last summer, I gradually went back with many changes. I am not making the same amount that I once did, since I refuse to work more than 50 hours in a week, with the very rare occasion that a large race is in need of special attention. That happens about twice a year. Getting the course measurements during my lean times, like summer, helps to get me thru to the next big race I have to work.

I had contacted Bernie Conway with the IAAF and earned my appointment to be a B-grade measurer before I was ill. I wanted to offer my clients one more option for certification, and it will be a way to measure other places in the world. My appointment came last December, and I will start measuring out of the country in September. There is a whole different pricing system for these races, since some of them are in third world countries and the races are not widely attended. Getting our message out there is the main goal for some of these places.

Fortunately for me, I do most of my measuring for one racing company (one race director). Since I have done so much work for him, I am on call to get the work done, and all of his courses are already on my computer. I just remeasured a 5k that only had a change to the start and finish. He was charged the certification fee and a couple hours of work to make the application and readjust the maps.

But for new clients, I use google earth to electronically map out the course and try to get a handle on the actual measurement. I am usually accurate to within 10 to 15 feet over course of a marathon. Most race directors are amazed when I ask about areas to change the course. They believe MapMyRun is accurate enough for the actual course measurement. My mentor, Tom Ward, who I will always cherish for having given me the opportunity and guidance to learn the art of Measuring and mapping courses, always used to do a rough measurement, especially at Disney. But since I took over doing all of the paperwork for his measurements, he has me do the rough with google earth, and he feels confident that it is close. This has saved him many late nights out at Disney World.

As for charging my new clients, I also do not give the client the certificate until I get paid. I ask for half at the time of the measurement, and they will get mapwork. For anything over a 15k that usually means a series of maps for every few miles of course as well as the overall map. Your course director may have many people out setting up a small section of a course, so these maps work out well for them. Then I give them the certificate when I receive the final payment. For the smaller races, I usually get paid in full at the time of the measurement. I haven't had problems since I went to that way of billing.

I haven't had to do much "design" or last minute changes to courses, so I haven't thought about those charges yet. I usually inform my race directors that they should be on the lookout for construction or problems within the month before the race. No one has approached me with those problems so far.

It is nice to see what you charge for the little "extras", like last minute measuring, changes on the fly, and course design. It will help as I take on more of this work.

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