Trends in Running, by the Numbers

By | February 16, 2019

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How is the business of running doing these days? A new report from the endurance event registration site RunSignup suggests that its health is stable.

Data in Race Trends: Annual Statistics Report, released this week, showed that running participation was flat (which is better than dropping, as it had been before). When the company compared races that used RunSignup for both 2017 and 2018, they found that those races had 0.1 percent fewer participants.

RunSignup also found that the cost of running races continues to climb — prices in every distance from the marathon down went up. From 2015, the average price of a 5K has gone to $ 26.48 from $ 25.68, and the average price of a marathon went to $ 94.11 from $ 87.49. Good news for ultramarathoners though: Prices went down to $ 107.70 last year from an all-time high of $ 112.38 in 2017.

Despite this, the road race business is still a competitive one, and still working hard to attract you to their events. That means that not every race succeeds — RunSignup found that 6 percent of races with over 500 participants didn’t come back for 2018.

Johanna Goode, director of marketing for RunSignup, said that this should prompt runners to do a little research before signing up for an event. “Check out their history. See if the event has happened in previous years, or if the company has organized previous races. Read through their social media presence, and see if they have any reviews” she said. “If they have a history of cancellations, complaints about communication with participants, or reports of not paying vendors, look for another event.”

Another part of the report that stood out: while spring and fall continue to be prime time for races, more events are being added in summer and winter. “My best guess is that it’s related to market saturation,” Ms. Goode said.

“It’s also possible that this is related to the decreasing emphasis on competition and time. Races in summer heat or possible snow aren’t likely to be personal record events,” she said. “A smart event can use this as a positive — it’s ‘fun’ to be involved in an event in extreme weather, if the runner doesn’t care if their time suffers.”

You can read the full report here. If you have any thoughts about it — or why we’re seeing more of those winter and summer races — let me know! I’m on Twitter @byjenamiller.