5K Dominance and Other U.S. Running Facts

Running USA pic
Running USA
Image: runningusa.org

A resident of North Grafton, Massachusetts, Paul Andrew is a public policy expert who has collaborated with a broad range of entities from around the world. Outside of work, Paul Andrew enjoys road running and specializes in 5-kilometer (5K) events.

According to nonprofit Running USA, after over 20 years of strong and mostly double digit increases, the number of race finishers among recreational runners has declined for two consecutive years. Industry experts say this was an anticipated, healthy correction of a part of the world of running.

The past year saw declines in all race distances, but the largest decline of around 30 percent came from nontraditional races or obstacle course races, which include features such as paint, fitness challenges, and mud.

From 5 million road running race finishers in 1990, the number of finishers peaked at more than 19 million in 2013 before declining. There were 17.1 million finishers in 2015 for all road race distances. This represents a 9 percent drop from 2014.

The road running industry had an estimated value of around $1.4 billion in 2015, which was a half billion dollars more than the revenue earned by the NCAA in 2015 and close to the ticket revenue of the NFL for the same year.

The 5K retained its dominance of all race distances in 2015 with 7.6 million finishers. This represented 45 percent of all road race finishers in the United States.