Inflation has hit every sector of the economy hard—and that includes the road race industry. Events are paying more for everything from bagels to porta-potties to permitting fees and police overtime. In some cases, they have no choice but to pass along their rising costs to runners.

The best hedge against high marathon prices is to pick a race and sign up early. Many races in the U.S. will offer the lowest prices if you sign up a full year in advance. And because registration service fees are often tacked on as a percentage of the race price, you’ll pay less in fees, too.

But not everyone can plan that far ahead. Runner’s World went looking for marathons that are less than $100 even if you wait until a week out to sign up. We also sought races whose course are USATF-sanctioned (so you can use results for the Boston Marathon if you hit your qualifying time), and have at least 100 finishers, so you’re not alone out there. Here are seven possibilities:

  • South Hero, Vermont
  • October 22, 2023
  • Current registration fee: $70 (Goes up to $80 on race day)
  • Previous year’s size: 117 finishers in marathon, with 225 additional runners in the half marathon that begins 10 minutes later.
  • Certified? Yes

Scouting report: A rolling course on an island in Lake Champlain, which passes by farms, apple orchards, and summer cottages.

  • Millinocket, Maine
  • December 2, 2023
  • Current registration fee: Free. Runners must register by November 1.
  • Previous year’s size: 155 marathon finishers, with an additional 1,173 in the half marathon that begins 20 minutes later.
  • Certified? Yes

Scouting report: When a large paper mill, which was the primary employer in town, closed in 2015, race director Gary Allen began the event as a way to bring runners to the town to support local businesses and contribute to the community. The idea is to invest the money you would have spent on race registration on helping local organizations.

  • Albany, Georgia
  • March 2, 2024
  • Current registration fee: $70 through September 30. Fee goes up to $75 through November 30, $80 through December 31, and $90 through February 28.
  • Previous year’s size: 289 finishers in the marathon, with 401 additional runners in the concurrent half marathon
  • Certified? Yes

Scouting report: Flat and fast, with a 7 a.m. start time, and marathoners get free admission to the music festival later in the day.

  • Derry, New Hampshire
  • April 6, 2024
  • Current registration fee: $39.99 for the first 500 participants. The fee goes up to $49.99 for up to 750 runners, and up to $59.99 for up to 1,000 runners. Any entrants beyond the first 1,000 pay $69.99
  • Previous year’s size: 411 in the marathon, 375 in the half marathon that goes off an hour and 15 minutes after the marathon
  • Certified? Yes

Scouting report: The race, hosted by Millennium Running, was founded during the pandemic and uses a time trial start, with two runners going off every 7 seconds, with the fastest seeded runners starting first. It’s an out-and-back on the Windham Rail Trial—one loop for the half marathon, two loops for the marathon, and billed as a fast race for runners looking to BQ.

The Athens Ohio Marathon

  • Athens, Ohio
  • April 14, 2024
  • Current registration fee: $45 through July 31, goes up in $5 or $10 increments every month until it’s $90 two days before the race.
  • Previous year’s size: 163 finishers in 2023, 369 in the concurrent half marathon
  • Certified? Yes

Scouting report: Ohio’s “longest running” marathon in this college town has been in existence since 1968. It’s mostly flat after a rolling first mile.

  • Brookings, South Dakota
  • May 11, 2024 (tentative 2024 date, according to race director)
  • Current registration fee: $65 before March 1, $80 after
  • Previous year’s size: 99 finishers in marathon, 212 in the concurrent half marathon. The two races are on the same course for the first 10.5 miles
  • Certified? Yes

Scouting report: Race website says the course travels through “the best rural America has to offer: parks, gardens, bike paths, historic districts and South Dakota State University.”

  • Whitefish, Montana
  • May 18, 2024
  • Current registration fee: $70 through December 31, then $75
  • Previous year’s size: 148 finishers, with 359 in the concurrent half marathon
  • Certified? Yes

Scouting report: In the northwest corner of the state, near Glacier National Park. The average daily high is 65 degrees, but as the website says, prepare for rain or snow. “Hey, it is Montana!” the website reads.


Sarah Lorge Butler is a writer and editor living in Eugene, Oregon, and her stories about the sport, its trends, and fascinating individuals have appeared in Runner’s World since 2005. She is the author of two popular fitness books, Run Your Butt Off! and Walk Your Butt Off!

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