How will new pandemic runners affect in-person and virtual races?
A recent survey conducted by RunRepeat asked 3,961 current runners how many of them began running during the pandemic. The survey aimed to learn more about running motivations, participating in races and how the runners differ from those who began before the pandemic.
Nick Rizzo, the fitness research director at RunRepeat, said the current situation poses a major opportunity for any facility that has already been tackling member engagement by offering programs like outdoor classes and bootcamps.
“These types of events or offerings are prime opportunities for facilities to build a community and leverage it to engage with new potential members,” said Rizzo. “In the same way you can offer running events, you can simply start by gauging what interests your current members. Although running may seem like an obvious answer, options like weekend hiking or walking groups might come out as a major winner as well.”
Results from the survey stated 50.04% of new pandemic runners plan to participate in a race over the next 12 months, in comparison to the 63.08% of pre-pandemic runners. Currently, these new runners are 20.67% less likely to participate in any form of race, in-person or virtual. And of these new runners that are looking to participate in a race, 68.42% plan to race in-person in comparison to the 85.34% of pre-pandemic runners.
When it comes to virtual races, 31.58% of new-pandemic runners are looking to race virtually instead, making them 115.37% more likely to run a virtual race than their pre-pandemic counterparts.
Sandy Wiedmeyer, the fitness manager of the RecPlex in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, said her team has been conducting virtual runs and programming, and is looking forward to adding in-person runs back later this year as a result of requests from members.