As Running Popularity Increases, Running Event Participation Is in Decline
Updated: Jul 26, 2022
The state of running
Over the past decade, the number of runners has grown by more than 50%, to approximately 60 million Americans. Nearly 80% cite the desire to stay healthy, stay in shape, and relieve stress as the primary motivators for running.
Paradoxically, as the number of runners has continued to increase, the number of runners participating in organized events (5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon) has decreased, presenting new challenges for event organizers.
What’s going on?
Most certainly contributing to the trend are a plethora of running resources, effective injury prevention strategies, the increasing number of fitness trackers and wearables, as well as the home exercise equipment (despite recalls, such as Peloton) now available for “todays runners.”
Running outside of formal events has also become more popular among the younger demographic.
Conversely, the running demographic at events has become progressively older and slower across all events, irrespective of distance.
The challenge and possible solution
For event organizers and sponsors, self-preservation long-term may involve creating a bigger sense of “community” and engagement between runners outside of formal running events.
Models employing such a strategy, including CrossFit and F45, have been successful. Both have also incorporated wearable technologies, a potential lucrative opportunity.