Running Recession: A Trend Analysis of Running Involvement and Runner Characteristics to Understand Declining Participation

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Market trends indicate the distance running event industry is facing a running recession. Since 2013, consumer demand has declined annually while supply increased. The current research provides insight into why running as a recreational activity is declining and implications for organized events’ utility. Based on seven years of participants’ postevent surveys from a long-distance running event, the value placed on hedonic, symbolic, and lifestyle features of running (i.e., running involvement) is gradually declining, which corresponds to a decline in annual event participation. Results are based on analyses of both a time series of cross-sections (N = 23,790) and a panel of multiyear respondents (n = 461). Also, there are gender differences in the rates at which running involvement declined. These results shed light onto a sociopsychographic explanation for the declining levels of running event participation and general interest in running.

Kennedy, Jordan, and Funk are with Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Baker is with D5ai, Berwyn, PA.

Kennedy (heather.kennedy@temple.edu) is corresponding author.
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