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?