Nontraditional Running Events Attracting More Interest and Participation

U.S. consumers are more interested in running these days but many are finding that preparing for a full marathon is too much of a commitment. Race sponsors and organizers have been responding to the increased demand for nontraditional races like half marathons and 5K events.  Obstacle and mud runs are also drawing bigger crowds and create unique opportunities for marketers to reach this audience.

In the new Nontraditional Running Events Special Report published by Running USA, analysts point out that over 4 million U.S. adults participated in nontraditional or specialized running events last year. As these events have grown, consumers are citing a variety of reasons for participating. While competition is key for many runners, other participants like the camaraderie, the team-​building and the sense of accomplishment they feel when they cross the finish line. Nontraditional events are increasingly likely to be about general fitness and may involve a fundraising effort for a charity. Surveyed consumers say they have taken part in the following types of runs:

  • Marathons 6%
  • Half-​marathons 6%
  • Obstacle challenge 5%
  • Themed run 7%

Industry experts believe social media is one reason more consumers participate in nontraditional running events. About 20% of the U.S. adult population runs regularly, often participating in formal events, according to Ad-​ology Research.  At least 88% of runners are active on Facebook and 49.3% have a presence on Twitter. Marketers may want to sponsor a local running event that is connected to a charity as  58% of runners will switch brands to support causes they believe in. Marketers could then follow up their presence at running events with social media campaigns.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to Ad-​ology PRO. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.