Race Registration Market Analysis – September, 2018

We do a US Registration Market Analysis every 6 months:

We try to improve on it with your feedback (so feel free to send suggestions or corrections to bob.bickel at runsignup.com). We do this as part of our own internal market evaluation processes but share it because we have not found other good sources of information like this.

The Big News
In March, we talked in depth about how the stresses of a declining registration market are impacting registration companies and races. The trend continues, with a slight increase in races going bankrupt, cancelling, and leaving their participants hanging. The stories are sad, but they also give the overall endurance market a bad name. The one related stat that we track is races on our platform that were over 500 participants and were held a year ago, but were not held this year. We saw a 5.7% closure rate so far in 2018.

Over the past 6 months, several big stories have emerged in the industry.

Sales Tax – The first big story is the landmark sales tax decisions made in the Supreme Court. This will have big impacts on our industry with new levels of complex tax codes placed on already stressed race directors who are trying to deal with a general decline in the endurance market. We look forward to having serious discussions about this at Running USA as more and more states add requirements for collecting sales tax. We have a number of customers who have already received requests from their states for taxes and even back taxes, and it is likely many states will follow with new taxes (and in some states non-profits are NOT exempt!).

EventBrite IPO – The second is something I am sure a lot of registration companies are watching – the EventBrite IPO, which plans to raise $200M at a valuation of $1.8B. There are lots of interesting thoughts that come from this. One is seeing that the Endurance market is only 60 Million tickets worldwide, in a total ticket market of 3.3 Billion (less than 2%). This accounts for EventBrite’s move towards music and away from the endurance market over the past couple of years. This fits our thesis that one of the things that continues to benefit RunSignup is that the market is not large enough to warrant the development of the extra features required to meet the needs of races. A second interesting aspect is the very high 9X valuation EventBrite is getting on their $200 M of Net Revenue. Their growth of 50-60% seems to be highly influenced by acquisitions, with a real growth rate of around 20%. There is debate in the investment community about the definition of Net Revenue. Our belief continues to be that the true measure of Net Revenue should be taken after removing credit card processing fees and other costs like support and computing costs. We also believe that due to the small size of the market, the value of race registration companies is much, much smaller. It is our strong opinion that race registration companies are valued much closer to the 2X of the conservative definition of Net Revenue. This is especially true given the general downward direction of the endurance market and the difficulty in getting to the critical mass required to afford appropriate levels of technology and financial infrastructure. We also think there is considerable risk in the market with race cancellations and registration companies using float from customer funds.

GetMeRegistered and End Result Acquired by Stack Sports – Stack Sport is a private equity owned company that has a focus on a number of sport-based businesses like youth sports, high school sports, professional sports, and events. They got into the endurance business by acquiring RaceWire several years ago and have acquired a number of timers. GetMeRegistered and End Result were really one company, with half focused on registration and software and the other half focused on timing. This is obviously counter to the RunSignup Strategy of being a technology company and not mixing with the operations side of the business. It will be interesting to see how the combined company decides on which registration platform they keep investing in, and how their model of bundling timing and registration together scales.

CRM – This seems to be the hot topic for a number of races these days, with several vendors (including us) marketing this as a set of new features to races.  We have always viewed RunSignup’s key advantage for races is our open, central database for access to all information with a lot of race-specific CRM capabilities like Participant Management and Marketing Promotion capabilities such as automated emails, referral rewards, with integrated analytics. We are in the process of continuously releasing the second generation of Race CRM views into that powerful race database. You can read the cliff notes on our plans here. Here is a diagram of what we are doing:

Screen Shot 2018-09-09 at 1.02.55 PM

The Bi-Annual Numbers
It is tough to estimate market share since there is no one place that has ALL races, most races are open for only part of a year, and different vendors have different search tools for finding races, so we take several approaches to comparing vendor numbers.

RunSignup Numbers
RunSignup has been very public about sharing our numbers. You can read our Year End Report for 2015 to see that we had over 10,000 races use us to process 2.7 Million paid registrations in 2015, and 2016 Year End Report to see we had over 14,000 races use us to process over 4.1 Million registrations and 2017 Year End Report to see we had about 15,000 races and 4.2 Million registrations (after losing our largest customer we grew over 20%). The trend continues positively – and we are estimating over 17,000 races processing registrations on RunSignup and over 5 Million paid (not including imported) registrations in 2018.

Running USA released a new report that said there were 18.3 Million participants in 2017, slightly down from 18.5 Million the previous year. Assuming the trend holds, then the 5 Million participants registering on RunSignup (not including imports) represents 27% of the market.

What has become apparent given the numbers gathered below is that RunSignup has become the largest vendor in the US market as measured by the number of races and probably registrations. We believe Active may still be larger in terms of revenue as they have several large customers like Ironman, Rock and Roll and Motiv who have high entry fee races. Active doesn’t advertise their registration fee’s but we believe their standard rates are higher than RunSignup and we believe they gain revenue from other avenues such as the provision of marketing services, online adverts and e-marketing services.

Screen Shot 2018-03-18 at 11.06.13 AM

RunningintheUSA Market Share
RunningintheUSA.com is the largest calendar of race sites in the US with 46,919 races listed. This is down from 47,936 last year at his time – a decrease of 1.7%. This may be a sign that the growth of the number of events in endurance has peaked and is falling. RunningintheUSA uses Active.com’s, RunSignup’s, and Race Entry’s automated API to load races from each of us – that is why you see the little logos for each of us on the calendar. This probably means that we are unfairly represented as they do not get every race from every other of the 100+ registration providers in the market.

We do a sample every 6 months and do a count of the total races for each vendor of 1,000 races in the month after the sample is taken (October, 2018 in this count) (Also, note Healthy Kids Series was not included in count as they use RunSignup and have several hundred events in October):

Screen Shot 2018-09-09 at 2.08.08 PM

RunSignup will be used by over 17,000 races this year for processing their registrations, which is 36% of the races in RunningintheUSA, so those numbers are probably fairly accurate for RunSignup.

October Market Share
There are over 100 registration systems used by races, and not all of them have race listings. For example, we could not find a list of Chronotrack Live/Athlinks races but know from their public statements that they processed over 1 million registrations in the first half of 2016 and that they have likely grown since then. Some vendors like Haku, do not have a race calendar. And search methods change from period to period – so data available in previous periods is no longer available. And a final caveat to this data is that some race calendars may include races that do not have registration on their sites (the RunSignup data is accurate since we have a search flag internally we can use to look for races that are open for registration on RunSignup. Also, RaceRoster was kind enough to provide us with their numbers directly for the past two reports (earlier manual method counts were eliminated since they were not accurate):

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 8.09.59 AM.png

Cancelled Races
One new stat this report. RunSignup has started collecting data on the number of races over 500 participants that are not repeated. The data is from November-August, and shows that 5.5% of races were not repeated in 2018. From a spot check of races 100-500, the no return rate is 11%. As expected, there are less new races coming in to replace these very small races.

Top 100
We are tracking a new statistic – Top 100 Races from the Running USA list.  (Note: the list is from 2016, which is the last year it was compiled, but we are manually keeping track of finishers from those races, and although that is no longer the current, true Top 100, it provides an interesting baseline to track).

Active has 21 of the Top 100 races from the Running USA list. WTC (Rock & Roll and Ironman) account for 15 of these and Motiv accounting for 3. RunSignup has increased to 14 (from 12 in March), and Haku is now at 9 after winning 5 Disney races. GetMeRegistered is next at 7, although it will be interesting to see what happens after their acquisition by Sport Stack. RAM/EnMotiv has 6 – all of them Hot Chocolate races in the series they own (they have their own registration platform for those races that is also used in other races). Race Roster has also had some wins as well and is now up to 6.

Screen Shot 2018-09-09 at 2.18.57 PM

One interesting thing to note is that the Running USA list of the Top 100 Festivals does not accurately cover the entire market since their data is based on finishers with results. For example, the total participants in those races is only about 2 Million, which is only about 7-10% of the total market in the US. There are other runs, such as Night Nation, Blacklight Run, Color Run, etc. as well as others like St. Luke’s FitOne run in Idaho with over 10,000 participants. The Running USA list’s smallest race is about 8,300 now. RunSignup has 27 races that were larger than this over the past 12 months. But the Running USA list is a good list to keep track of what is happening in this niche of the market.

Alexa Rankings
Alexa is a cool tool that shows the ranking of websites based on page views. It is approximate but is fairly accurate. As above, there are lots of caveats to this. For example, EventBrite, Active and Events.com all are covering much more than the endurance market and their numbers are inclusive of those other markets.

These rankings among all US websites are from September 9 and will change depending on the time of the year (going lower in December when there are few races happening and growing largest around Thanksgiving for example).

For comparison purposes, RunSignup has risen 30% in terms of rank from September 2017 even though our pageviews over the previous year’s 30 days are up 15% to 13.6 Million pageviews from 11.9 M in 2017.

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 4.02.37 PM

We also have some pageview counts from several other companies we know so you can get a feel for pageviews and Alexa Rankings

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 4.00.38 PM

Turkey Trots

As of this date, here are the counts for Turkey Trots:

Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 1.02.58 PM

So What Does This Mean?

Our objective in doing this was trying to understand how far we had gotten with our growth. We are guessing that we are at about 17-25% market share with our about 5 M paid registrations in 2018. This is based on a combination of the 18.3 Million reported by Running USA and the 60 Million worldwide EventBrite estimates and assuming half of that is in the US.

We are really proud of the impact we are having on the endurance and race market. Especially since RunSignup is a lot more than registration, as we have grown to be a full race management platform supporting the entire race lifecycle:


The integrated CRM database give participants a better experience with things like self-serve participant management, free results, notifications and photos, while races have better promotional and fundraising tools to maximize the impact of their efforts.

The Race Director and RD Scoring help Timers score and provide results for over 8,000,000 participants annually. RD Go, our Cloud-based Scoring and Results system used by Timers and Races hosts results for over 6,000 races and sends tens of thousands of result notifications each weekend. RaceJoy is by far the leading race GPS Tracking solution in the market with hundreds of marathons, trail races and relays using the social, safety and management features to improve their races. RunSignup for Clubs is used by hundreds of clubs to help with membership management and tie to races. And our free services like Volunteer Management, Check-In App, Race Calendar Widgets are used by many races beyond those who do registration with us.

Thank you to all of our customers who provide us with great feedback on what is needed in this market, and who tell their friends about us.

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