Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Economic Value of Finishing the Western States 100m Endurance Run? About \$109.09...

When Jared Hazen put his Western States Endurance Run silver buckle on an eBay auction last week (well earned from his 17:29 14th place finish in 2014), he involuntarily showed us an estimated economic value for finishing the iconic 100-mile foot race in under 24 hours. It turns out to be ~\$109.09. That's right, roughly a dollar and some pennies per mile. WTF?!?

Certainly we would agree that every mile of States is worth more than a buck and change. Some (i.e., me) would say it's at least 100x that value, perhaps even a unicorn-worthy 1000x valuation if you fail 9+ lotteries like me (ha, ha).  But if you look at the clearing price of the auction of \$519.09, it is a stake in the ground of sorts. The cost to enter Western States is \$410. This, of course, doesn't take into account the costs of running a qualifying race, or the less than 5% chance you actually get into the race via lottery with one ticket, but for simplicity let's just call it \$410. That means the value is \$519.09 - \$410 = \$109.09. Wow.

That CAN'T be right. It feels discounted, yes? In your gut, does that price feel even close?!? No, it does not, and for good reason. The math here doesn't work due to one primary flaw - it perfectly ignores how that item achieved value in the first place. What we are really talking about is the price of a "unearned" buckle, the equivalent of a Louis Vuitton replica handbag. It denies all the emotional value of pursuing and finishing the challenge for which it was forged, similar to how a knock off does not achieve the satisfaction of being so wealthy you can disconnect from reality and spend ten grand on a fucking handbag. Owning an unearned buckle might SAY what you want, but it actually MEANS nothing. What Jared has actually shown us is little more than the value of hubris. Turns out, it's not worth much at all.

I secretly hope that the auction winner just holds onto this buckle for the day Jared is willing to pay thousands to get it back. A 10x return in five years? It's definitely plausible. Damn, maybe I should have bid on that buckle. ;-)

1. FYI, that's \$99.09 ;)

1. Ha ha ha - I thought the math was dodgy, but wrote it off as me being tired.

2. Jared Hazen sold his 2014 buckle, not his 2015 buckle :)

3. Well Scott, when I run a practice run or a race I run hard as hell no matter the distance. As far as I'm concerned the real value is Monday's tin scrap opening price. THESE ROADS ARE MINE!

4. Whomever won it, really wanted it. If you look at the bid history that person was bidding on it from day 1. I would imagine it is someone from the ultrarunner community since they have no prior feedback on their account.

1. You are correct, it was me and I will tell the story shortly

2. Wow I really hope this is true - very intrigued and looking forward to hearing about it.

5. I think Jared's age has a lot to do with this - I've met several people his age that really don't value finisher medals and such. And I would bet that the person that bought this was someone from the WSER board that really did not want to see this out in the wild. And I suspect that that same board was not amused, and it will be interesting to see if Jared races in 2016.

6. I would rather excel in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and possessions.

Plutarch

Is it not the experience/knowledge rather than the symbol that is the true accomplishment. The buckle just symbolizes an accomplishment, just as a diploma does for academic achievement. There is no intrinsic value in the symbol, the value is contained within what one is able to do with and feel because of the experience or knowledge. I am with Jared- trophies and other symbols are of no true value.

7. \$109.09 / 100 miles is \$1.09 a mile! Just my 8 cents.

8. I have 7. 3 more would be nice.

1. I have 3 (well, one of these and two of the ones that take longer to get). I'll never get 7 more, hoping for one, maybe two. I reckon my nieces and nephews will end up with them - I suppose they could sell them. I guess I could specify a desire in my will, but what would that be? That problem hasn't really come up much I suppose...most finishers are still alive, or their heirs appreciate the memento. What happens a couple of generations from now? Maybe we give them back to be re-issued or something.

9. Scott.. great read and input as always...

I read on some various posts but I haven't seen 100% confirmation that there was talk the WS Board tried to work something out with him so if he ever wanted they would hold it and could buy it back from them.

I believe they may have been the ones bidding on it and they may have been the winning bid as well but can't firm this, can anyone else?

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