If you have been dying to go to a race away from home, but can't afford the high price of a hotel room, maybe getting yourself set-up to homestay is for you.  On the other side, if you like athletes and being around athletes, then being a host of a homestay might be cool for you.  And finally, if you like to give and receive, then you can do both!

A homestay is when an athlete gets free (or close to free) room, and sometimes board, at a host's home, apartment, etc.  It is great for both parties involved in that it helps out the financially struggling athlete, and it is great for those fans of sport who love meeting and helping the athletes

Who can use a homestay?  Although often reserved for the pros, many races have a homestay network set-up for all athletes.  Sometimes you can homestay in pairs, but don't overstep your bounds and try to get group deals.  As they say, 'don't look a gift horse in the mouth'.

How do I find races that offer homestays?  The race director or the coordinator of the race will know whether or not they are offered.  If you are thinking about doing a race out of town and but won't if you have to pay for a hotel, then pick up the phone or heat up the fax and ask the race people if there is one available.  You'd be surprised by how many are out there.

If, however, the race doesn't offer a homestay, you still might be able to hook yourself up.  Try contacting the local race association where the race is taking place or try talking to other athletes.  Just by talking to a fellow competitor you might be able to work out a homestay with your new buddy, and/or provide one for him or her.  Or, if you belong to any affiliated group like a religious or philanthropic group, you might be able to network your way into a homestay.  Lastly, by helping host an athlete, you might set yourself up to stay with them in the future.

Miscellany.  Give yourself a few weeks to arrange for a homestay--don't wait until the last minute.  If you do you may be left high and dry.  Also, don't plan on staying a week.  Most homestays range between 2 and 4 days. 

If you like to have your own space and do your own thing while not having to socialize, then don't do a homestay.  Remember, most hosts do it to get to know some of the athletes and consider your friendship as their payment for putting you up.  If you aren't into being friendly, then think about staying elsewhere.

That's it!  Try to keep homestays in mind when trying to decide about going to the next big race.  Not only will it make it more affordable, but it also might make it more fun!