eeking to provide important insight into the behaviors and mindsets of event participants, every year the Running USA Global Runner Survey helps empower growth for event producers, brands, charities, vendors and other companies doing business in the running space.
The recently released 2023 edition, comprised of more than 10,000 responses – 95 percent of which were from runners and event participants in North America – once again gauged factors such as behavior around event participation, the mindset around why people choose to participate in events, spending and fundraising habits, recommendations around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the running community and brand and technology usage among runners.
“This report is an in-depth look at the mindset and behaviors of the running and walking community, with input from over 10,000 respondents,” says Leah Etling, marketing director at Running USA. “This is your chance to find out what they’re thinking and feeling about events and brands.”
Among the Top Takeaways:
• Runners are interested in increasing their participation in traditional 5K, 10K and half marathon road races up to as much as 30 percent over the next year. Events should be prepared to handle increased ﬁeld sizes and attract runners who may be seeking new opportunities.
• Leading drivers of selection were event location, race distance and course desirability.
• The majority of runners are willing to travel much farther from home for a full or half marathon, compared to a 5K.
• When selecting events, respondents favored those that provide swag and that had reduced entry fees.
• Instead of a T-shirt, popular participant gift alternatives included long-sleeve shirts, tank tops and sweatshirts.
• Charity fundraising is popular with event participants, but the majority of those who fundraise collect less than $500 for the charity or cause.
FUTURE EVENT PARTICIPATION
• 62 percent of respondents plan to increase and 33 percent plan to maintain the number of events they will participate in over the next year. Only five percent plan to decrease participation.
• Of this subset, the main reasons why they plan to decrease were due to interest/motivation (21 percent), availability of events (15 percent) and other time commitments (14 percent).
• The least popular future event will be virtual events, as 19 percent of participants plan to decrease the number of virtual events in the next year, while 28 percent were still unsure. Eighty percent of participants did not participate in virtual events this past year.
• The most popular future events will be half marathons, while with shorter race distances 30 percent plan to increase participation and 50 percent plan to participate the same amount as the previous year. Future efforts should be placed in increasing the availability of these event distances.
• Most runners and walkers participated in one mile, two mile or 5K (16 percent), and four mile, 8K, 5 mile or 10K distances (31 percent).
• While most respondents competed in in-person events (80 percent), some respondents are still participating in virtual events, primarily for shorter event distances. Twenty percent of respondents are still participating in virtual events, down from 49 percent in 2022.
In lieu of a T-shirt, respondents would like to see long sleeve shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts or hats for swag. These alternatives should be considered for future swag options.
To find more insight and data at the download the report: