The stats are in and there’s some interesting running trends emerging. The total amount of race finishers is dropping, but it’s not all bad news. Read on to see what the future could hold for runners.
Less races are being held, but the quality is improving
The number of overall finishers is declining (dropping to less than 17 million in the US this year, beating a low from 2012), but one reason may be that less races are being held overall. It’s been suggested that there’s been a crackdown on poor quality, badly organised and managed races, so many have disappeared from the calendar. As race organisers are noticing the decline in participants, they are stepping up the quality of race supports to attract new runners. This improves the overall quality of the remaining races for everyone.
Not every race is seeing participant drop off
The 10K, half marathon and other distance races are seeing declines in participation by at least 4 percent. In contrast, the 5K race continues to hold it’s own and witness growth in numbers. We could speculate as to why this is, but there could be a number of factors involved. If you’re looking for a slightly less crowded field, try a longer distance.
Demographics are changing
The largest age cohort remains the 25-44 year old group. This group continues to set running trends by making up 49% of all finishers. Women are increasingly taking the lead, making up nearly 60% of all race finishers. This is across all race divisions, but is certainly skewed by higher participation in shorter events like the 5K.
What can we learn from these running trends?
If you’re involved in organising races and you’re finding your numbers dropping, it may pay to reevaluate your race day supports and perks for participants. Make sure your pre-race organising and communication is timely and professional. We can surmise that the increasing popularity of shorter races is a reflection of busy lifestyles and competing demands on time. Shorter races may be easier to train for and accommodate.
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