The Trail Mix Fund launched earlier this year, as a way to remove a barrier that exists for some to run a race – the cost of the registration fee. It’s off to a great start, but we could use your help.
The idea for this Fund was born from COVID. Because we couldn’t produce in-person races, we began putting on some virtual races as a way to give people a goal or motivation during a trying time. We knew that many were out of work or strapped financially because of the pandemic so we offered to waive the registration fee for those folks. We had some takers on the waived fees and began brainstorming how this sort of thing could help people who can’t afford to race, even when the pandemic is over. Additionally, several racers contacted us to ask how they could donate to cover another runner’s virtual race fee. Go Beyond Racing also received a donation from a racer who wanted to help ensure we’d stay in business during the pandemic and that sealed the deal. We decided to use that money to create the Trail Mix Fund as a way to help those who were in need. This led to further conversations about representation in the sport of trail running and things that we at Go Beyond Racing could do to improve the diversity of runners at our events.
On January 31st, we announced the fund and created a way for people to make donations directly through our website or to add on a donation during their race registration process. To be honest, we weren’t sure how this would be received; we hoped that others shared our desire for more diversity and inclusion. We were uncertain how much might get donated or how many people would apply to the Fund and were honestly nervous that applications would exceed donations. But this is the trail running community we are talking about and we should have known better. Racers were very generous right off the bat and the Trail Mix Fund was up and running!
The first application came in in February and was funded within a week. An Indian immigrant who is currently unemployed is getting to run a race this year! Applications continue to come in and as of today, 57% of those funded are people of color!
Some might say “stop right there”. Why not just reduce your registration fees so that anyone could afford them. The answer to that is that we’d rather give people the best trail race that we can, with all the extras that Go Beyond Racing is known for, instead of compromising that experience for everyone. We keep our entry level pricing for all of our races lower than most other races around. Our Mt. Hood 50-miler is a lottery and there’s always a wait list so you could argue that we should charge more because the demand is there. That’s not the way we think. Of the nine 50-milers in Oregon, Mt. Hood 50 cost less than all but two, and those other two are just $5 cheaper.
Now, we recognize that $100 is a lot of money and for some that is just an impossible expense to add to their budget when paying rent or a mortgage, childcare, medical costs, and just putting food on the table is a challenge. It is these people that we had in mind when developing the Trail Mix Fund idea. Others can say that paying for a race is selfish when your money is tight, or that you don’t have your priorities right. But we believe the trail racing is an important part of mental health (and physical well-being) and is an excellent way to be part of a community, which is also very important.
The process to apply to have your registration fee waived is simple and quick. There’s a form on our website that you complete, and our Board (all BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ athletes and outdoor enthusiasts) review the application, and we respond to you within a week. When approved, a discount is created for you on the registration system, and you sign up.
So far, 75% of the applicants have never run a Go Beyond Racing race before so we know we are starting to reach new people. But this is where we are focusing our work now. Direct outreach to BIPOC and LQBTQ+ groups is happening. We’ve recently participated on a panel about diversity and the future of trail running with the Forward Motion Film Festival and have had conversations with organization and businesses that can help get the word out.
If you know someone who is part of an under-served or under-represented group, or someone in a rough or tight financial situation who could benefit from participating in one of our trail races, please tell them about the Trail Mix Fund and encourage them to apply. We are more than happy to come to your group or organization to talk about it too. Or if you are inspired to support this endeavor, please donate.