Beginning in August 2015, New York Road Runners will offer a form of financial assistance for runners who want to run races: Free Races!
50 complimentary entries to each of 20 of our weekly races, and beginning in 2016, we’ll add 50 complimentary entries to each of the NYRR Five-Borough Series races and the TCS New York City Marathon.
This is a link to the Application Form, which requires information such as employment and income. Each applicant will be notified within 3 weeks of submission if she or he has been accepted into the Race Free program. Then, before each race a random drawing will be held to select 50 participants.
Eligibility is based on need and applicants must be 18 years of age or older and must be residents of New York state. Further information is located on the website.
I think this is a great beginning. Races are much more expensive than they used to be, and it’s emotionally and physically beneficial for a runner to know s/he can still compete in NYRR road races even if s/he is going through a rough spell, financially.
I do have a few suggestions for NYRR on improving the plan:
1. Broaden eligibility to include residents of neighboring states.
2. Instead of automatically enrolling the applicants into a random drawing for every upcoming race, that the applicant instead choose a certain number of the races (e.g., 10) that s/he wants to be entered into the drawing for.
3. Require the participants of the Race Free program to volunteer at least one race per year.