The real cost of the London Marathon and eating healthily on a budget

Yesterday I sat down and worked through our money and looked how much we have left for the month (not much!)  I hate going through our accounts and sorting out the money and should really go through it on a weekly basis, but I tend to put it off for at least 5-6 weeks at a time lately as it is so depressing!

This month has been especially low on money.  Not only have we had to pay out for solicitor and mortgage fees for the house move, but we are now just over fifteen weeks away from our wedding with companies starting to ask for the next chunk of deposit and we traveled down for London marathon last week.

Ever sat down and worked out how much it costs to go to a big city marathon?  Well, I just did…

Race entry – £31
Race expo visit – £28 – I didn’t have to go down beforehand, but having never been and wanting to look round all of the stands I didn’t want to do so the day before the race in the busy crowds and have to be on my feet for the full day.  I’m very glad I didn’t leave it until the Saturday as my feet ached all night after traipsing around on the Thursday.
London marathon top – £32 – Again, something I didn’t have to have but not knowing if I will ever get another place in London marathon a VLM training top was definitely something I wanted.

VLM training top
Hotel for two nights – £202 – Not essential for two nights, we could have returned after the race but it was nice not to have to rush back as soon as the race was over.

VLM hotel
Our hotel was not what we expected – twin beds facing each other and I couldn’t even see the TV from my one!

Two meals out£26.20 (Love that our pre-marathon meal came to 26.2!) + £35.65 after the race.  Pizza was essential the night before the race as I know my stomach copes with running on it.  The meal after the race was kind of a treat for Dan for traipsing around London supporting me for the weekend.

Post VLM meal
We had a lovely Thai meal for after the race. The portions were spot on as I usually really struggle to stomach food after a long run, but I worked my way through this little lot!

Train tickets – £119 – This covered the train tickets down to the hotel and back again and also tube tickets for Dan the day of the race.  (Marathon runners travel free on the Sunday.)

Obviously we could have saved money by staying for just one night, Dan staying at home and cheering me on from infront of the TV and taking packed sandwiches with us for the weekend but I’m not sure I would have had quite the same experience.  All in all, the trip came to £438.20.  I thought running was a cheap sport?!

We did a Tesco shop last week which ended up coming to £30 more than it usually does (always does when I take Dan…he’s like a big child and things keep finding their way into the trolley!)

But anyway, now…now we have very limited funds for food and other necessary items over the coming months!  I tweeted earlier asking if anyone had any tips for cheap meals and received quite a lot of responses

I’ve sat down and worked out a meal plan for the remainder of this week using items we still have in our cupboards/freezer but once those are gone, I shall have to get creative!  My favourite tips so far have been to cook a whole chicken at the beginning of the week and then use the meat for several meals and to make use of the slow cooker, which I have been doing just lately anyway.  I also try and make use of the reduced hour at my local Co-op as it is only at the bottom of my road.

I did enjoy a sweet baked potato with scrambled egg and some plum tomatoes on the side for lunch this afternoon, but I shall have to think hard about my thrifty lunches next week!

Sweet potato with egg and tomatoes

A quick couple of London marathon related links…
Some great London Marathon 2014 facts from Runner’s World.
Steve Way’s Garmin stats from London marathon. .. – (Third Brit finisher.)  Check out that pacing consistency and such a low heart rate!  Amazing!
A cheating marathon runner… – what satisfaction comes from cheating?!
And the reward that has been offered to the cheat…. – Love this!

What are your favourite thrifty meal tips to add?

26 thoughts on “The real cost of the London Marathon and eating healthily on a budget

    1. I’m going to check out that app now, thanks! I do like the idea behind Change for Life and think they have quite a lot of practical ideas for people that otherwise might feel rather overwhelmed at the prospect of healthy living.

    1. Yes, I shall be checking out any posts you write. Lauren (Powered by PB) did this last week as well and I found it very interesting. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it long term, and with ten days to go before my goal race I know I need to be very careful with the food I’m eating at the moment but it is something I would love to have a go at properly in the future.

  1. It really does addd up especially if your going to the big smoke! At least the experience will be something you have forever and what a marathon to run!

    Hmmmm me and Dale are saving for Glastonbury at the moment and even though I don’t spend much money there its all the other bits before hand that cost loads so we to are having to rein in our food shopping budget. We have been shopping at Lidl which really cuts down the cost an we only buy meat once a week or every two weeks as it can be quite expensive!
    Tamzin recently posted…Workout Wednesday: Fighting The Easter BulgeMy Profile

    1. Oh yes, definitely. I wouldn’t change a thing from my first London!
      Quite a few people have suggested Lidl to me today. I think we’re going to give it a go. Previously we’ve been put off as they do not accept credit cards, and we gain quite a lot of Tesco points on our store credit card – going away for a couple of free weekends each year. I think the difference in cart price is quite substantial though.
      The cost of meat always terrifies me, and I’m all for cooking a large hunk and then using the same meat for several meals throughout the week.

  2. Firstly this is AMAZING that your pre-marathon meal cost £26.20. I love stuff like that!
    Secondly, yeaah I really don’t want to see how much my marathon cost in total. I mean the entry fee alone was something like £90. Let’s not forget about both Ben and my WEEKLY physio appointments (£40 per session) that we needed in the run-up. Flights, hotel, food, spending money….yeah foreign races are more expensive for definite. I feel sick if I think too hard about it. But hey ho I don’t regret it at all.
    But London won’t be as expensive thankfully, but still, like you said, not cheap! (This is assuming we even get to London!!)

    1. Haha! Glad it wasn’t just me the £26.20 amused!
      Eek! I can’t even begin to imagine how much your Paris trip came to. But, you’re spending the money on something you enjoy and my way of looking at it is there are much, much worse things you could be wasting that money on…instead our marathon experiences gave us lots of enjoyment and loads of unforgettable memories!

    1. Yes, it always makes me chuckle when it’s described as a ‘cheap sport’. Pah!
      Thanks for sending me your link. I knew you’d have a section on your blog. :) I’m going to check your posts out over the next couple of days and hopefully be able to stay healthy for less!

    1. Everyone that told me they had paid less than £5000 for their wedding lied. Or just really underestimated the cost! Everything adds up to so much. Make sure to pick one or two things that are really important to you and not worry about the cost…then just try and rein in the rest!

      1. Ours cost £8,500 including honeymoon. We spent it on drink and food. £500 on dress. Used our own classic fords for wedding cars.

        1. I think ours will come in closer to £10,000, with very little drink. I’m relying on the bride’s drinks being bought for her! Haha!
          Lovely that you used your own classics as your wedding cars.

  3. I love that your meal came to £26.2! Amazing!
    You should facebook that to marathon talk as they love the numbers like that!
    I think probably London hotel prices had a lot to do with the expense- I bet even the Travel lodges are way overpriced on that weekend.
    Our marathon cost a lot because we flew to Stockholm and had a few days there after. It would be interesting to work out the minimum you could have spent on it I suppose- eg one night hotel/ race entry etc. I never count meals out as an expense because we would eat at home anyway, and although of course it is more expensive eating out we don’t do it that much.
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Beautiful Lakes (no scrambling please)My Profile

    1. I never even thought about letting Marathon Talk know. I’ll have to do that now!
      We stayed quite a long way out from the start in order to get a cheaper hotel but everything in close proximity of the race was either booked up very early on or ridiculously priced. It would be interesting to do it again next year (fingers crossed!) but see how cheap I could make the race!

  4. Hi Mary – LOVE this post – all the pics and all the stats. You asked about cheap meals – I’ve got some on my website that I have posted up. I am writing a recipe book – and most are based on just 4 ingredients and are healthy and cheap 😉 just like me!

    I know how expensive it is getting married – especially when everyone wants their little / big bit. Luckily we only had to pay 600 deposit to our reception venue – and they took the rest when we got back from honeymoon (they were lucky we had anything left! )

    Did you decide where to go on your honeymoon?

    1. Thanks! I’m a stats geek at heart! 😛
      Will take a look at your recipes. How exciting that you are writing a recipe book!
      I wish some of our wedding payments didn’t have to be paid until we returned from honeymoon…Although, like you say there probably wouldn’t be anything left in the pot by then!
      We’re off to Cilento in Italy for our honeymoon and I can’t wait! :)

    1. It’s so comfy to work out in (I can wear it now that I’ve completed the London Marathon! 😛
      I see several stews in my future…! Easy to bung into the slow cooker as well which is handy on a work day.

    1. Haha! Yeah we thought it was great when I checked my credit card statement…Clearly a sign of good luck! :)
      Sport costs so much money, and lots of money goes on things that you wouldn’t even think about when totting up costs for a race. has a great breakdown for her Paris marathon costs…and she spent much more than I did!

    1. Yep, must have been a good luck charm!
      It’s surprising how quickly it all adds up I’m afraid. Definitely not a cheap sport once you get into it!

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