The number of runners registering for organized races in the U.S. was down slightly in 2019, continuing a six-year gradual drawback of mass participation in recreational road racing. According to Running USA data analysis, the industry peaked in 2013 when 19 million runners crossed the finish line at U.S. running events over all distances.
The number of people registering for U.S. road races in 2019 compared to the previous year declined 2.7 percent from 2018 to 17.6 million, according to data compiled by Running USA with the help of a consortium of event registration companies including The ACTIVE Network, imATHLETE, Race Roster, RunSignup, Race Entry, Run Reg and many individual events.
2020 will certainly be an anomaly when it comes to participation trends given the large number of races that have already had to cancel previously scheduled events due to COVID-19.
“We are especially appreciative of all the registration firms and events that contributed their registration information to produce our third annual U.S. Running Trends Report,” said Rich Harshbarger, CEO of Running USA. “We realize that these are trying times for race organizers but are committed to continuing to monitor the state of the industry no matter the global circumstances.”
The findings should not be a surprise as many events have experienced a gradual slowdown of road race participation. Another factor is slightly fewer events happening and runners turning to alternative forms of fitness, sport and recreation.
The majority of runners of U.S. road races in 2019 continued to be a highly desirable demographic for sponsors: 60 percent female and 49 percent are between 25 and 44 years of age.
The most popular distance runners compete in remains the 5K which racked up 8.9 million registrations in 2019 and was the only distance recording an increase year-over-year.
Photo courtesy Under Armour