Popularity and Participation of Running in the United States

Goals

To have a broad understanding of how running has evolved in the United States. Specifically to know if participation in longer marathon races is declining, and if so, what kind of runs are increasing in popularity. Additionally, to know whether runners have added different types of cross-training activities to round out their training. Finally, to have an understanding of the types of activities/fitness regimes that are growing in popularity in the United States.

Early Findings

Overall Participation in Race Running

  • Although nearly half a million runners entered the ballot this year for the 2020 London Marathon, according to new research, running event participation is in decline. The study by RunRepeat, analyzed 107.9 million race results, including participants from over 209 countries at over 70 thousand events between 1986 and 2018.
  • Researchers found that over the past two years there has been a decline in runners in Europe and the US participating in races. Conversely, participation in Africa and Asia is on the rise, although not enough to compensate.
  • Despite the popularity of some marathon majors, 5K and half-marathons are still the most popular distances to run. Yet despite 2.9 million runners taking on a 5K race in 2018 and 2.1 million finishing a half-marathon, these two races have also suffered the biggest decline in participation over the last two years. Half marathons have declined by 25% in the last two years and 5Ks have declined by 13%.
  • 10Ks and marathons have a more modest following and participation rates haven’t fluctuated much in the last two to three years.
  • The study also found that a lot of the runners indicated they had a slight preference for the larger races. For the purpose of the study, they classed a field of less than 5,000 runners as a ‘small’ race.
  • Participation in bigger races with more than 5,000 runners continued to rise until 2015, with participation in smaller races rising until 2016. The decline in smaller races has been more dramatic, with a decline of 13%, compared to the 9% at larger races.

Trends of Participation in Running

  • Running has grown by 57% over the past 10 years, which is a very healthy increase, but as with any sport, it will have a period of decline.
  • Overall, the finish times for racers are slower. It is important to note that it's not the individual who's getting slower, but the average of all runners, meaning that the "demography" has changed. In other words, more slow runners are participating in races.
  • The United States is the country with the biggest number of race runners but from the countries with most participants, it's the slowest.
  • How is the business of running doing these days? A report from 2019 suggests that its health is stable.

Popular Types of Runs

Activities/Fitness Regimes that are Growing in Popularity

  • F45 is a rapidly expanding Australian workout class that claims to be the globe’s fastest-growing fitness franchise, boasting 300,000 active members worldwide. It has fast become a hit in the United States.
  • Classpass, strength training, shorter workout classes, and treadmill based workouts were predicted workout trends for 2019.

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our initial hour of research found an extremely reputable and credible source to provide statistics and insights surrounding participation levels in running races. While the data provided was global in nature, there were several United States pullouts, which we presented, but we felt the overall data was useful even if it was global in nature. Given that we could not find anything even remotely credible that had this kind of data, we chose to go with that study.
  • We also provided a few insights surrounding trends of participation in running, as well as popular types of runs, and activities/fitness regimes that are growing in popularity.
  • Due to the tight time constraints of one hour research as juxtaposed with multi-hour research, we provided what we could in the one hour allotted to this.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.

Proposed next steps:

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