2024 Midyear RaceTrends Update

We release an annual RaceTrends Report each winter to provide a thorough assessment of the state of the endurance and fundraising events industry. Today, we have a brief update looking at 2024 midyear race trends to help event organizers better understand the current state of the industry.

The Data

The data used for this report includes internal RunSignup data from 12/1/2023-5/31/2024. Data from the 2023 RaceTrends Report covered 12/1/2022-11/30/2023. The numbers represent 5.1 million registrants (paid and imported) from the first half of 2024. We estimate that our data represents at least 40-45% of the endurance market.

8% Per-Race Participation Growth
9% Per-Race Participation Growth for Races 5,000+
5.4% No Race Churn

Races Are Growing

One of our key metrics to determine the strength of the market is to compare the number of participants in races that have used RunSignup for two years. This removes any impact from increased market share or new races in the market, looking only at how participation numbers have grown on a per-race basis.

Most encouraging from this data: the increases from 2023 to 2024 exceed the lingering COVID lag still seen in early 2023, when race numbers were below 2019 participation. We already saw participation in the second half of 2023 exceed 2019 participation, and from this it’s clear that the first half of the year saw not only a return to pre-pandemic participation, but actual growth.

Large Races are Growing

The slowest events to rebound from the pandemic were the largest events. While events 5,000+ still haven’t quite caught up, the early numbers from 2024 suggest that races under 5,000 have reached or exceeded their pre-pandemic size. Additionally, races of 5,000+ are making strides, with 9% growth compared to last year.

No Race Churn Holds Steady

We manually track every race over 500 participants to see how many of them return on our platform, how many leave for another platform, and how many events cease to exist at all. So far in 2024 5.4% of races that had more than 500 participants in 2023 did not return in 2024. That race churn is in line with previous years, with a 6% churn in 2018, 5.6% in 2019, and 5.9% in 2023. Meanwhile, competitor churn has fallen to 1.4% in 2024.

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s time to switch to growth mode. Focus marketing efforts on outreach and growing your funnel through referrals, social media, email, and incentives for teams that reach a specified threshold.
  • Large races need to keep their foot on the gas. While most events are thriving, and large races have shown considerable regrowth, the biggest events shouldn’t let up now if they want to surpass their pre-pandemic participation. Implement loyalty programs and incentives for returning runners to keep your base strong.
  • The race industry is stable. Races are coming and going at a relatively regular rate. While this means limits to opportunities for new races, there are opportunities. If you’re hoping to expand your business, keep an eye on your local market for emerging gaps in the race calendar.

Rising Prices

Prices have been rising steadily since the 2020 drop due to the influx of virtual events. So far this year, most race distances have seen an additional increase of the average race of 4-9% compared to 2023. That puts the average race price in 2013 10-20% more than the average price in 2019.

*Ultramarathons are a bit of an outlier here, likely because pricing for them was impacted longer by virtual races, as many multi-day virtual challenges (100 miles in a month, etc.), show as ultramarathons for pricing.

Declines in Price Increases

Despite prices reaching and exceeding pre-pandemic levels in 2023, the number of price increases instituted by races has been slow to return to “normal”. Early 2024 suggests that races may be realizing the importance and motivating power of price increases, with most distances seeing more price increases in 2024 than they did any of the previous 5 years.

Key Takeaways:

  • Prices are meeting costs. The recent uptick of prices is a bit of a delayed reaction for races to meet inflation. While many races were hesitant to raise prices directly after COVID, it’s clear that race production isn’t sustainable without increasing prices to meet costs. The good news: growing participation tells us that participants are willing to pay the higher costs.
  • Price increases are another way to boost revenue. Price is one of the biggest motivators for completing registration – 26% of all registrations take place within 3 days of a price increase or registration closing. Beyond that, you can implement an additional price increase to boost your final bottom line while still offering a low early-bird price for your most price conscious runners.

Demographic Changes (or Not)

Gender remains one of the more consistent metrics for races, with the exception of pandemic (and virtual) driven changes in 2020. Participants who identify as female remain the majority, making up 54% of all participants. We have seen and increase in N/A (not collected) gender; this is common for virtual or untimed races where the gender of participants is irrelevant.

Younger Runners Returning?

The decline of participation by athletes 18-29 has been a hot topic for endurance events for several years. There is reason for cautious optimism, with that cohort making up an increased percent of participants each of the last two years. Early 2024 had more encouraging signs, with 16% of participants between 18-29. Still, it’s clear that the work to reach young adults isn’t done: we saw as high as 18-22% between 2015-2017.

*The decline in participation for under 18 is likely due to the timing of the cross country season, and may return to normal at the end of 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t forget women in your marketing. Women make up a majority of the running industry. Make sure they feel welcome and represented in your marketing materials and on your website.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things. While legacy marketing tactics like Facebook and email are still (very) valuable for reaching participants, they may not be finding your youngest runners. Spend a little time on new tactics to find young adults, including short-form social media videos and local micro-influencers.

Ease of Payments

Since implementing Apple Pay in July 2023 we have seen a significant number of participants take advantage of the option. Combined with participants already using the saved credit card option, 35% of all registrations in early 2024 took place through a speedy payment option.

Key Takeaway:

  • Easy payment means more conversions. The worst way to lose a potential participant is after they’ve started registering. Offer as many fast payment options as possible to limit your drop-out rate.

Quick Tips

It can be hard to keep up with all the latest technology options. As you look to boost registrations (and manage your new participants) in 2024 and 2025, check out a few of our favorite marketing and growth tips from the last few months – all offered in less than 5 minutes.

Subscribe to Our Blog

Customize Lists...