Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Financial Woes

There's really no way for me to sugar coat it any longer: I'm in debt and my obsession with racing is the primary reason for this. In the past two years I have spent well over $10,000 in travel fees, entry fees, food, lodging, and gear used to participate in these races. In reality this cost is probably closer to $20,000. And this cost does not take into account all the time spent not working while gone doing races.

The obvious dilemma I have going forward is that I want to race even more in the next few years than I have in the past few years. Financially this does not add up. I would love to be able to support myself through my running/biking. This is of course a dream that many have but few, if any, actually come to realize... especially considering that I have no interest in road racing where there actually is a decent amount of prize money if you're at an elite level.

I've tried a bit in the past couple years, with very little response, to pursue endorsement deals with various businesses who sell products that I use in my training/racing. I did receive a little help this year in the form of free or reduced price products from Nuun, Epic Designs, and Foggy Mountain Shop (check out my sidebar for links to these great businesses).

My current job is pretty near non existent as a source of income. I have left so many times this year to go to races that I always need to wait awhile when I get back to Juneau before there is a need for me in the kitchen that I work in. Right now I am only going to be getting in about 10 hours a week until I'm needed more than that.

The obvious answer is that I need to get a new job and not take so much time off from work. In the long term this is what I know I need to do, but right now I am not planning on living in Juneau for more than another month or two (at the most) so looking for a new job is not an option until I move. As far as not taking so much time off from work, I'll save that for a few years down the road when I'm no longer at my racing prime and thus no longer interested in running so many races.

The current financial dilemma I'm dealing with is that my $800 entry fee for The Iditarod Invitational needs to be paid pretty soon here and I currently do not have the money (not to mention that I still need to buy my plane tickets for San Francisco and Honolulu for my next two races). I'm sure I'll find some way to come up with the money but just in case this sob story has made anyone feel sorry for me and you're interested in helping out I've added a donate link and an advertisement link near the top of my sidebar.

I know this seems like I'm pretty much just begging for money because I'm too often out having fun running when I should be working. Ummm. Yeah... I guess that's pretty much what it is. I like to think of it as something a little less humiliating than that though. My training and racing is not always fun but it's without a doubt something that I always have a passion for. I'd like to think that occasionally others benefit from this passion, whether it be a company selling product through my endorsement, people being inspired by my experiences/performances, or people learning things about training/racing from my typically honest and in depth reports here on my blog.

I apologize in advance for those of you that are annoyed with this post. I'm somewhat annoyed with myself for writing it, but if it helps me come up with enough money to do all of the upcoming races that I'm hoping to do then it's worth being a little annoying I guess.

51 comments:

DJ said...

Amen Brother!
Checks on its way

Flabbergast said...

I have sent some, too. I hope it helps.

I'm in a complete different situation (family, 2 kids, house, etc), but your blog and way of living has inspired me to start running and so I finished my first 11km race a month ago (I know, it's peanuts :)) and keep running ever since. Thanks for that, Geoff.

Anonymous said...

I have been pretty much annoyed by your blog entries of late. Get a life man!

Dave Harris said...

From one manic to another -

The key concept missing here: sustainability. Passions are great so long as they don't overrun every aspect of your life. It's fun to burn he candle at both ends but when the wax is gone what are you left with?

At some point your race schedule will be reality based. It's best to make that a proactive rather than reactive decision.

Anonymous said...

Geoff,

You stated in this entry that you are not into road races where there is money to be made.

And, while this type of racing is not what you desire,if you went this route you have the possiblity, not a guarantee though, of at least supporting yourself while doing what you love.

This would be a commonsense and prudent thing to re-consider and pursue.

If you are set against road racing,then for you running is not about the financial aspect.

Although you indicated that you are at your prime for the races in which you compete, what are your chances,realistically, to finish in the top slots?

I think you seem to address this question and that answer is that while it is possible it is not probable.

I am trusting that you are reflecting where you are at in life not just from the racing aspect, but also from the totality of your life.

I could see if you were 22yrs old and in the position of considering whether to continue racing, the type of racing, livelihood choices, where to live situations and girlfriend/partner decisions.

However,Geoff you are 32 years old and the better part, and outlook , for your racing lifestyle is not on an upward trajectory.

Perhaps, maybe that is where things are at with you.

You may realize that you only have so many years left to do what you love.

If that is the case , and if you feel a part of you will die you do not continue race as long as you feel you are able to do so, then maybe continuing in it is something to continue.

Still, there comes a time to realize what you are giving up for this avocation and try to see past the race finish line .

In other words, in addition to looking forward as to how to compete in those upcoming races, another question is what areas of your life are you running away from and why is this so?

Anonymous said...

wow, sounds like the anons need to get a life, and keep that crap to themselves.

Jonah said...

Focus on getting your back healthy… Work when you can… Postpone thoughts of moving… Train and eat and rest and go down and win that 50-mile North Face Endurance Challenge!

Stack said...

donation sent... isn't much but its what I had in my paypal

maybe you could/should check into something you could do (work-wise) that would give you the opportunity to race/train but also compensate you enough to feed your passion? Not sure if it would work well with the timing of races but something like teaching might work. (and you could coach XC! ;)

michelle said...

Wow,
Lots of anonymous psychobabble.....
And who says it's not probable that you would win? That's just dumb-don't listen.
I love you my brother-
money on the way :)

Anthony said...

Follow your dream and don't listen to the anonymous naysayers. Happy I could contribute.

mom roes said...

Don't listen to all the anons - this is your Mom the one you are supposed to listen to - go for it - we all love you and support you - you are truly an inspiration to all of us - we just look forward to the day that you finally decide to move closer so we can enjoy attending your races like we used to all the XC meets. We love you and the check is in the mail.

Andrew Brautigam said...

If I were you, Goeff, I'd look for some kind of stupid desk job. I was a bill collector for 3 years before heading back to grad school. While it was soul crushing at times, I made pretty decent money, had a flexible schedule, and tons of time to train. Good luck figuring it out.

strabel said...

I love reading your blog. Anything to keep it going.

Anonymous said...

Racing on borrowed money. Injured no less. That's rough. Added pressure to perform.

Just run. Run locally. Have fun. Run a race once in a while, you'll probably win.

Or work your ass (and debt) off and go back and get the GDR. You've already got this whole running thing figured out. Back on the bike?

Grae Van Hooser said...

My 2 cents, which apparently is two more then you have right now.
It sounds like this panhandling post is just putting off the inevitable for you. Your going to have to get a job. And no, road racing is probably not realistic. That is unless you can go sub 28 for 10k or sub 2:10 in the marathon and score a nice shoe contract. And those times do not get good contracts. And even then, you may be able to scrape by. It sounds like you have a good sense of what you need to do, but your behavior does not indicate this. It looks like you have some initial good results in ultra's and have figured out that you want to continue to pursue the running end of things. On the unfortunate side, you are pursuing a "fringe" sport that only within the last few years has taken off, so to speak.You don't see a lot of poor people running ultras and bike racing, do you. But the fact of the matter is that ultra running is expensive to the participant, has few true industry sponsors that don't have limited funds themselves. Why, the audience is just not there.It also sounds like your kind of scattered and trying to figure out a direction without a prioritization of your goals. And just digging yourself a debt hole with credit cards is going to make things worse. Your going to have to pay the piper some time. Especially if can not even afford to pay the interest.And on top of this you enter a race with a $800 dollar entry fee and another race in Hawaii? You can't have your cake and eat it to. Only those with money can. You stated previously that you were not going to live in Alaska. Why are you there now? Aren't you from Utah? It seems much more realistic to go back to Utah and maybe get a job at a ski resort for the season. If that doesn't work, possibly getting a job with an outdoor gear company there. There are a few. Maybe in the warehouse. You know Matt Hart. I believe he is in SLC right now. Maybe he can give you some ideas? Work off some debt in the winter, forgo some races, plan on going to the races you can afford and that would also be most important to you. Living in Utah would be a lot closer to the races it seems you prefer to do anyway. In the next few months,work on putting together a resume of your results and goals. Ask your sponsor NUUN to score you a badge for the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in SLC coming up, hand out your resume. See what happens. Most of all, you need to quickly step back, get some goals, accept the fact that you can't run every race you want to right now, and start down the path that will lead you there in the future. Well, what are you waiting for? ;)

Anonymous said...

that last comment was bull. only people with money can do what they want to do. maybe thats true most of the time, unless you are passionate about something, have a goal, are smart and are able to sacrifice, and think outside the box. you are all of these things, and you've got your priorities straight. why waste time, by living the life you're "supposed to live" and have regrets?

Kentucky Hill Goat said...

Dude, I love your blog. I have had fun watching your awesome progress. But this is a synopsis of the problem with America, learn some self responsibility! People just can't do whatever the hell they want and expect no consiquences. You need to work. I love ultra running but I also know that I have to be responsible. But I guess that is why you tend to lean left politically, you always think someone else will bail you out. I'm sorry that was harsh and I do think you seem to be a decent person, but it's time to grow up dude.

shakies said...

Wow. There is certainly quite a lot of criticism here. I understand their good points and appreciate the workings of a capitalistic society, but we should consider the value that Geoff's running and blog entries gives to us. I enjoy reading them and gain inspiration and I know others do to. Instead of thinking of this as charity, try looking at it like offering something in return.

Go get 'em Geoff!

Jill said...

I'm a little sick of people treating blog donations as "woe is me" charity drives. Where do you think blog content comes from? Blogs and the Internet in general are the main reason I'll never be able to make a living as a writer and/or photographer, and yet I contribute to my own demise by pumping out a ton of free content on the Internet. I don't mind. I do it because I have to. Geoff's the same way with his running.

I've known Geoff for eight years and he can practically live on dirt, and will if he has to. He'll be fine whether he has money or not, but he won't be fine if gives up running.

Anonymous said...

Why is it so hard for people to take responsibility for their actions nowadays, htfu and get yourself sorted, instead of "running" from the issue.

Cam

Karen Travels said...

Geoff, I donated money but if you are coming through Anchorage before or after the Iditarod I would love to take you ( and Jill!) out to dinner or offer you a place to stay!

Anonymous said...

Geoff,

I've read through all of the comments.

Although some have commented that some entries are harsh and dream stopping, I don't see it that way.

These "harsh" posts are simply stating real-world advice in a caring way.

If people did not care, even the anonymous poster, then they would not take the time to state their thoughts.

There are elements of truth to all of what people have stated.

It all bears down on the choices along with the results are you prepared to accept and which bring you peace.

Best of luck with your endeavors and racing.

michelle, phil, sarah and haley said...

Geoff,
Have you noticed that all the long winded, nay-saying advice givers are the anonymous people who really don't know you at all? Listen to your true friends and your family (you have a ton of both) and follow your heart as you always have.

Eric said...

"Do what you love and the money will follow"

Too many people live without passion in their lives. Consider yourself privileged to have something that makes you happy and drives you in life.

fuck the naysaysers.

Anonymous said...

Naysayers?!?

Howabout realists!

Anthony said...

Holy cow, where did all this vitriol come from. You should ring up Gov. Palin and sic her on all the haters. :)

Bryan said...

Wow Geoff, i guess you opened up the flood gates here. As a fellow 30 something with a 'real job' and family commitments I would say ride it out as long as you can. You'll get plenty of 'reality' down the road. I think it is very important to follow your dreams and do whatever you can to live them. If that means struggling to make ends meet so be it. You are the one that needs to decide if it is worth it. Give up a race or two if you need to, but keep at it.

Good luck. Bryan

Karen said...

YEAH
WHAT ERIC SAID!!!

DO WHAT YOU LOVE

Anonymous said...

Hey man, just be happy. If you're not happy, then change something. Forget other people's standards: nice house white-picket fence, 9to5job, IRA, blah, blah, blah.

Dave said...

I go along with Bryan.

I'm mid-40s, 2 kids, wife, mortgage. I still find time to run ultras; but not travel throughout the U.S. to do it. I did my traveling before my first was born (when I was 32). Glad I had the chance. I'm actually making decent money now; and pull in the long runs along with family vacations.

You only go around once; pursue your passion.

Oh, BTW, I'm NOT left wing at all. I despise both candidates; I'm libertarian.

Anonymous said...

Dude.. You are in the situtaion we all want.. No resposibiity, low payments, work 10 hours a day. If you fail at say the GDR its no big deal b/c you can just pull up camp and hit it again.. $10-20k in debt isnt that bad. I payed off $40k for my silly under grad.. Go for it man.. You need a plan and an agent. You got the talent, just not the brains. Get a trainer, get a rep, go to all the stupid tent sale events in Juneau and market you yourself. Its a job to be pro.. Go do it!!!!
I have met you and thought you were a trust fund bitch.. Prove me wrong. Nut up and make a living of what you love.

Mountinbula said...

Geoff, get it together.. I have a 40 hour gig, you can work it out.. Dont kiss a gifted hourse in the mouth..

Listen to the guy above me..

Ryan

Anonymous said...

i say fuck it.
rack up the c.c.'s you have - then get as many more as you can and rack those up too. then win some races. then declare bankruptcy.
you know you want to.
xxoo steuby

Jenny said...

Geoff, I can empathize with your situation, but I am not going to give you money. Instead, I am going to enter a race to cure juvenile diabetes. Tomorrow, I may do a race for another charity. I'm going to devote my well earned cash to people and organizations with clear and unselfish goals.

I'm 31 years old, $29,000 in debt, and, like Jill, wish there was a solid market for my writing and photography skills. I'm not going to stop pursuing those dreams, but I have other dreams too. That's why I work at a nine to five job that relates to writing, but isn't quite the dream occupation.

If running is your true passion then you must pursue it with a mission and clear goals for success. I'm not getting that from this posting. Instead, you sound more like an addict. Addicts are generally running from something and not towards something - pun intended.

You are obviously an avid outdoorsman who knows how to train his body to endure physical activities. You also mention that you want people to be inspired by your skills and accomplishments. Perhaps you could find a job teaching these skills in some fashion? I know I would be interested in learning.

mom roes said...

To all the anons that are so negative - this is my SON you are ripping apart - if you don't like his blog - it is simple - don't read it.

There is an old saying that goes - if you don't have anything nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all - so that is also simple - shut up.

Geoff is such an inspiration to all who know him and to others that are inspired by his training and running abilities.

I agree with Jill - Geoff will live on dirt if he has to - material things do not matter to Geoff - for example - he drives a car with 310,000+ miles. He basically can survive for a week out of one small backpack.

He has many people who follow his blog including his family and a ton of friends - he has many nieces, nephews and cousins who idolize him and can't wait for the next opportunity to spend time with him.

There are also many people who would like to be in his shoes - freedom to basically do as he wants to and be able to survive on as little work as possible. Most of you negative anons are just jealous.

So, let's not slam Geoff any more but rather stand behind him and help him fulfill his dreams. The world is definitely a better place because of Geoff.

Geoff, we all love you and wish you all the success you deserve. Keep it going.

Anonymous said...

Hey Geoff,

I've just came over to read your blog having found it through Jill's blog which I read regularly.

Seems like you have quite a bit going on in your life.

I am not going to give you any advice as I don't know you and you don't know me. Even if we did know each other and were friends, I'd ask you first if you were interested in my opinion before I gave it to you.

So, I simply hope with whatever you decide to do it brings peace to you.

Kazimer - "Kaz"

Anonymous said...

"Jill said...

Blogs and the Internet in general are the main reason I'll never be able to make a living as a writer and/or photographer, and yet I contribute to my own demise by pumping out a ton of free content on the Internet. I don't mind. I do it because I have to."



Blogs are a form of attention seeking. If you're not getting paid to blog then the only reason for doing it is to get other people to follow your stories and pay attention to you. It's Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" for everyone.

I could never understand why a blogger would be upset about comments made on their blog. You're opening up your life for the whole world to see, you can't expect 100% positive support all of the time. If you don't want the attention or possible negative reactions then why blog at all ?.

As far as ....."Blogs and the Internet in general are the main reason I'll never be able to make a living as a writer and/or photographer".... goes that just sounds like a load of bullshit and making excuses. If you put as much effort into finding a job as a writer or photographer as you do riding your bike and hiking, you'd BE a writer or photographer. Or maybe even get a better paying job somewhere other than the newspaper you work at now.

Geoff said...

Response to anon. directly above:

blogs CAN be about attention getting and primarily for the enjoyement of the readers, but most avid bloggers I know (and jill definitely fits into this category) do it primarily for themselves. it's a more open, interactive way to keep a journal/record/training log/diary or whatever you want to call it, but it's still more an extension of something that you might otherwise keep scribbled in a ragged notebook than it is an attempt at getting attention from others.

of course it can be asked then why, if you're not seeking attention, not just keep it in a notebook and keep it to yourself? i can't speak for jill on this front, but for me i know that i appreciate the feedback that i get from others. it helps me learn more about myself to see how other people interpret me. but that's pretty much where it ends. i don't feel like i have an obligation to agree with or accept everything that people say about me. at the end of the day it's still my blog and it has very little to do with trying to please/get attention of my readers. getting some feedback/attention is kind of a little icing on the cake but it's not a huge part of the process.

Andrew said...

While I can certainly sympathize with the desire to do something you love, I have a hard time with the idea of doing something until you've ruined yourself financially. You're not Forest Gump, man.

Get a job and still run. Just don't run as much.

Welcome to life!

Chris said...

Geoff,

Go read Mark Twight's book, Kiss or Kill. There are no answers in it but I think you'll like it. If the library doesn't have it, I'll lend you my copy :)

Fuck the haters, it's your life you're living. You know what you need to do to be happy and you know the answer to whether or not you need to do these races. Just look inside and lean on your friends and family when you need to. Then make sure they can lean on you sometime down the road too.

DV8 said...

Yo! It's Geoff's blog. You don't have to read it. Furthermore, if you don't want to send him money, don't! But if you are too much of a fucking pussy to put your name behind your statement you deserve to be taken out back and beaten with 2x4's. Of, course we'll never find you, case you are spineless, jellyfish!

How you like them apples!

Vito said...

WTF! You don't have to give up running, but you are going to age and you have to be realistic about that fact.

There are people that have the same passion as you Geoff and also work full time jobs.

Sure, it isn't easy, but you still have to be able to support yourself in a responsible fashion.

Please don't get me wrong...if I were 20-30 years younger I would want to be doing the same thing, and I respect the hell out of you for doing what you're doing.

Anyway, best of luck to you whatever you decide.

Keep it real!

Vito said...

One more thing I forgot to mention. You've chosen your lifestyle which I have the greatest respect for, but why should you be asking for donations?

You chose to put yourself in the situation you are in. Make it work. There are far too many other people who are unable to support themselves for one reason or another that deserve support because they have no choice.

Jill said...

Anon at 2:56:

I should have clarified that the Internet is what is killing the newspaper biz, which is my biz. I'm already looking into having the branch out into PR or advertising, because so much journalism content is free these days. No one's paying for it anymore, or paying the people who create it. Being a writer or photographer is ultra-competitive and not very realistic as a career if you even want to make enough money to live on. I might as well just come out and say I want to be a professional ultra-runner (which, by the way, essentially don't exist.)

If you believe Geoff's blog is worthless, and if you believe his running is worthless, that's fine. But then why are you spending so much time reading it if that's the case?

I think for those who object to soliciting donations/sponsorships on a blog, we'll all just have to agree to disagree. You obviously see it different then I do. I see local playwrite trying to put his work into production - you see lazy panhandler on the street. One has an art for which there is no realistic corporate sponsor, but which can still benefit others who *choose* to get involved. The other is a lazy bum. It's a free, free-market country. You get to choose your opinion.

Enlight, said...

In America there are ways to make money, the free economic opportunity still exists compared to other countries.

I have been traveling the Middle East for the last year and will be traveling the world for the next 4 years, although, I waited and saved my money.

Finding a balance with personal desires and goals is the trick.

In America is it kind of strange when people ask for money to pursue a sport—seems selfish.

In Egypt, which I traveled for 5 months, people that ask for money are hungry.

dogsled_stacie said...

Go Geoff's mom!!! You tell 'em! lol (Moms rock)

Go after your dreams Geoff, hell, you don't want to be kicking yourself 25 yrs down the road wishing you pursued the running. Give it your all, that's true inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Wow, lots of anger in some of these responses. hope you don't take any of that crap to heart. Jeff, I enjoy your blog and appreciate your sharing your exploits. If I had some extra cash, I would send you some just to support something I enjoy reading about.
-d

Anonymous said...

Geoff will always do whatever the hell he wants and he'll be good at it. I'm not worried about you. If people want to give you money, that is fine. I'll offer my couch and I'll even make you a dinner. I'd even pack you snacks for your race if you let me. Dude, you'll figure it out. And if asking for money is one of the ways you are figuring it out, and people are willing to support you, go for it! You don't want to look back when you are old and think that maybe if you did post that one blog entry you could have....
Monika

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Anonymous said...

I enjoy hearing about your running but it is too bad about your self imposed financial situation. Good luck finding income that supports your lifestyle. It takes work to win a race and work to fund the race so find a job...From a guy that works 10hours a day..has a high paying job (lucky) worked at what he loves, earned degrees and runs ultras...If I can work so can you