Home of the Red Rocks Wide Open and PWC Monroe

Why are US Comps So Expensive?

I (Gavin McClurg) have wondered this for years. Now that I’m running a week-long race to goal event I fully understand why and wanted to share this with those of you who are curious.

Initially we set the price of the Red Rocks Wide Open at $550, with the first 50 getting a $50 discount for signing up early. If we get 130 pilots that would gross ~ $62000 (we always have to give a few free entries for the scorekeeper and other staff or folks who put in a lot of time helping). See below for why this was WAY off and we had to increase to the standard $600.

How could we possibly spend that much money running a comp? Here’s a look at just some of the big ticket items:

  • Van rentals: $10,5000 (this is for 6, assuming we can get another dozen private vans and trucks)
  • Extra private vehicles rentals: $4500
  • Retrieve drivers: $10,500 (we can reduce this by giving a 3 day mentoring/coaching clinic, but then that costs money too, so bottom line doesn’t change much)
  • Fuel: $3825 (best guesstimate assuming 1-2 very long tasks, and 1-2 weather days, so this could be considerably more or less)
  • Awards: $850
  • Welcome dinner: $3000
  • Schwag bag (ie T-shirts or similar for pilots and staff): $1872
  • Website, Airtribune, graphics, maps, wind socks, etc. $350
  • Live Tracking: $2700
  • O2 Tanks for fills: $180
  • Porta potties for launches and volunteer camp: $430
  • Volunteer camp rental: $3000
  • Insurance: $3250
  • Breakage/ Unknowns: $3500
  • USHPA application, PWC Application (Pre PWC Sanctioning), and FAI CAT 2 sanctioning: $1844
  • Scorekeeping: $1950
  • Meet Director (Salary + accommodation and food): $2649
  • Safety/Medical Director: $1950
  • Retrieve Coordinator: $1050
  • Retrieve Field Director: $700
  • Volunteer Coordinator: $1050
  • Staff food expenses: $875
  • Staff accommodation expenses: $2800
  • Camp volunteer food expenses: $4200

TOTAL: $67,525

So we lose ~ $5 grand in the $550/$500 scenario. We can cut a few things- dinner? Volunteer food? Awards? Live Tracking? But most of this is a hard expense. We can cut some of the staff expenses by giving a clinic, but again, the clinic costs money (retrieve, instructors, etc.) so there isn’t much wiggle room there. And this assumes we can get private vehicles. This costs soars if we can’t and have to rent more vans.

So there you go!