Have we actually had a snapshot view of our industry from the employment side? Didn’t think so. But Road Race Management, an organization of race directors, running club officials, and other running industry luminaries, has just finished taking a selfie, using its Race Director Compensation Survey. The images are, well, sobering.
Recent news headlines like “Road running is losing pace” and “Why marathons are attracting fewer runners” are a symptom of the problem and it’s starting to impact the compensation that event directors are receiving.
One of the reasons race directors have cited is market saturation. While the number of road races has reached record levels, overall participation and average event size has begun to decline in the past three years. And with more options to choose from, the entire industry suffers.
Here are some of the key points:
Pessimism in income predictions: According the report, the most telling statistic was the lack of optimism regarding predicted income for race directors. The vast majority – more than 75 percent – of the race directors responding to the survey said they anticipate their income staying flat or going down in the next two years.
The number of events hasn’t changed much: Just over one in four race directors manage exactly one event, nearly 75 percent manage two or more events and one in five says they work with 10 or more events.
Full-time work is down: The percentage of event directors employed by for-profit event management companies, charity organizations and title sponsors dropped slightly since the 2015 study At the same time, those employed by or volunteering for running clubs and nonprofit event management companies (i.e. CVBs and community-organized events) rose. These figures may denote the start of contraction in the number of full-time event directors making a full-time living in the field.
But lots of new people are coming into the industry: Four years ago, only one in eight survey respondents had been in the industry less than five years. This year, a whopping one-third of the respondents identified as new. (Perhaps the spike in continuing education programs in sports management has something to do with the influx).
How much are they making? Figures are flat compared with the last survey. Approximately half of the race directors are netting over $50,000 from all of their events. Unfortunately, they’re noting they receive few benefits; many receive only travel reimbursement or apparel.
The survey includes more details, including salary breakdown, duties of event directors and supporting personnel and more. The full survey is available from Road Race Management from this form on its website.