Despite the lifting of pandemic restrictions, participation in virtual running events remains high — especially for longer distances.
That’s just one takeaway from Running USA’s “2022 Global Runner Survey,” which gauged the responses of more than 5,500 runners earlier this year. The majority of runners who responded were under 44 years old; 55% were men, 43% were women and 2% identified as non-binary. Almost two-thirds (64%) were white.
Not surprisingly, 66% of respondents expected to participate in more running events this year than in 2021, when many communities were still limiting public gatherings. Nearly half (49%) took part in a virtual event during the past 12 months, and the longer the distance, typically the greater the virtual participation.
For example, while 32% of runners participated in virtual 20K/25K/30K events, only 26% of in-person runners participated in events of the same distances. Virtual participation was even higher for ultramarathons, 30% compared to 20%. Almost 20% of runners opted to participate in virtual events rather than any in-person events in 2021. What’s more, 43% of runners plan to run more virtual events over the next 12 months.
Overall, half marathon emerged as the favorite event distance, followed by 5K and 10K. Traditional road races remain the most popular event type, with trail running and triathlon/duathlon lagging far behind.
New categories in this year’s survey focused on runners’ spending and travel habits. The distances runners are willing to travel to participate were split almost equally between 100 miles or less (36%), 101 to 500 miles (33%) and more than 500 miles (31%). Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents (64%) paid an average entry fee of $21 to $50 for a 10K or shorter, while the most common average entry fee paid for marathons and half marathons was between $76 and $100.
Additionally, all runners spent an average of $1,748 on running shoes, apparel, nutrition and hydration, tech gear and/or coaching over the past 12 months.
The report also contains detailed snapshots of Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic, mixed race and non-binary runners, as well as runners by age group.
Running USA’s “2022 Global Runner Survey” is available to purchase for $279.