North American races to see a resurgence in 2023, survey says
Flashback to a year ago, most runners were locked down and working remotely with no races in sight. But within a few months, as restrictions were lifted, most races returned after a two-year hiatus. Race organizers were happy to have runners back, but the registration numbers for most were not what they were before the pandemic.
Athlinks, the largest race results database in the world, surveyed an audience of 400,000 athletes based in North America, identifying their post-pandemic habits to gain an understanding of why numbers did not fully bounce back in 2022.
The survey showed several reasons for lacklustre event participation in 2022, ranging from athlete safety concerns to simply being “not ready” to return to racing. Forty-five per cent of the athletes who did not return to racing last year indicated that they are either registered or plan to register for their first race back in 2023.
Those who have not returned to racing stated the following four things would persuade them to get back to it: Getting into shape, having a running buddy to commit to the race with, fun themes, and more affordable registration fees.
Forty-eight per cent of athletes who returned to racing indicated that social media and word of mouth were how they found races. These results emphasize the importance of overall digital marketing efforts for events. Athletes are actively searching for new races to get involved in, and it is more important than ever for events to put their best foot forward digitally.
Athlinks revealed another promising indicator that late-fall races saw the strongest racing volume, nearing numbers from 2019. “We are starting to see event numbers close to 2019 once again–people are ready to race,” states Nick Wiegand, Athlinks product manager.
While the resurgence of the racing industry has progressed slower than many race directors hoped, there is a strong indication of a continued trend of steady growth for 2023. The survey shows it is key to focus on catering to athletes who have not yet returned to racing to help them get back into the habit.
posted Wednesday January 18th
by Marley Dickinson