"If you want to run the race that is popular, you have to pay the piper," Lamppa said.

Runners like Sherrod are not willing to pay anymore.

Photographer Harry Bosk also believes races could be more affordable. He has been competing for 34 years and has completed eight marathons and more half-marathons than he says he can count. Bosk, who runs with the local group Pacemakers, said he now only runs races that have something that piques his interest, such as an interesting or challenging course.

"The prices don't make me mad, but I am just more selective about what I run," Bosk said.

As many veteran runners have cut back, newbies have allowed the sport to thrive. And Lamppa said more affordable races still exist for frugal runners, although they may not be among the most popular.

Veteran runner and race organizer Jim Adams has found ways to keep the cost of races down. The owner of the Falls Road Running Store organizes the popular Celtic Solstice race each year in December in Druid Hill Park. Holding it in the park cuts down on the cost to close roads and hire police officers. Runners can pay a lower rate if they forgo the shirt given out at races.

"I own a running store, but I look at this as a way of giving back to the community," Adams said. "If we break even, that is fine. We don't want to lose anything, but we're not looking for this to be the profit center for our business."

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

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Racing fees

Registration fees for top 100 U.S. marathons with half-marathons (2007-2011)

2007

$72 average marathon fee

$51 average half-marathon fee

2008

$76 average marathon fee

$56 average half-marathon fee

2009

$81 average marathon fee

$61 average half-marathon fee

2010

$85 average marathon fee

$62 average half-marathon fee

2011

$89 average marathon fee

$65 average half-marathon fee

Source: Twin Cities In Motion/Running USA