Will a Recession Impact Your Race Plans?

Posted by Filed Under: News and Opinion

dollars.jpgThe United States’ economy appears headed for hard times, with more people losing their jobs and homes while food and energy prices head skyward. Global markets have been impacted as well, creating a worldwide ripple effect.

Major economic downturns have a way of forcing consumers to hold on to their money until it’s safe to spend again. For runners, it may mean delaying a GPS or heart rate monitor upgrade or holding on to those running shoes for a few more miles. One area bound to be impacted is races. People concerned about losing their job may not be as willing to pluck down $35 for a 5k when that money can otherwise help to buy groceries or gas. Destination marathon fields could tip towards the locals as others question the major travel expenses associated with the trip.

Just as economic recessions “correct” excesses in a market, a prolonged downturn could impact the robust number and quality of road and trail races currently available. Of course, some people never race, others rarely. But there is a sizable number of runners who enter several (sometimes weekly) single or multi-sport races annually for the challenge and the change of pace.

Running is big business and race organizers market to athletes with above-average, and often affluent, incomes. Eventually, though, a protracted recession will impact everyone’s wallet – even if it’s out of fear, rather than misfortune. If enough runners cut down on the number of races they enter, it’s inevitable that some poorly attended events will not return. On the flipside, if you’ve tried in vain to get into exceptionally popular half or full marathons, your time may soon come.

The ultra community is famous for no-frills races called “Fat Asses”. These aren’t flashy events and they aren’t always ultra-length. There are no T-shirts or awards and often no aid. For people with a limited budget or oversupply of race stuff, they are an ideal way to continue gathering for a fun, challenging run on a vetted course. Just as trail running has gained popularity among those long done with the roads, so too might Fat Asses start to gain traction if runners can no longer afford to keep up their road race habit.

Is the current economic turmoil making you reconsider some of your race plans? Are you cutting back elsewhere in your running (such as wardrobe, gadgets, memberships, magazine subscriptions, etc.)? Would you be willing to enter a race or extend a subscription or buy another pair of tights or shorts just to keep an organization solvent? Or do you think the running community is immune from outside economic pressures and will as it has in good times?

After you’ve left any comments, don’t forget to participate in the poll too!

About Anne

Anne’s been running for so long that when two paths diverge in the woods, not only she does she know to go for the one with the most foreboding weeds, swarms of bees and steep, rocky climbs, but she convinces everyone else to come along. Then, before people are done cursing and nursing insect bites, bloody knees and poison oak outbreaks, she’ll again run — away. She eschews a lot of the newfangled devices that are supposed to make you a better runner because she believes it’s what you put into your body, not on it, that really matters. (Footwear is the exception.) That includes proper nourishment of the mind, which we all know is what really makes the difference on the road…and the trail…and the track. At some point she started to realize that not everyone has run into an Alaskan grizzly bear, been pegged by police as a robber, lost her shorts in a major marathon, rubbed elbows with Olympians, mistaken movie stars for beach bums and watched a wildfire consume her suburb - yes, while she was on a long run. Whether it’s these unique situations, or the universal ones every recreational runner encounters, after she lives it, she loves nothing better than to write about it at Run DMZ.

  1. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on February 4th at 11:34 am

    A recession might impact me at some point, but I think that the bigger impact in my racing plans is that I just want to concentrate on a few specific races. That, and volunteering at the races is just as enjoyable as running them, so by running fewer races I can make myself more useful.

  2. maxdog on February 4th at 1:47 pm

    I am to busy running to listen to some putz reporter or analyst telling me I need to ‘worry’…besides with enough miles my endorphine load can get me through another ‘Great Depression”…. Now Go run!


  3. Will a Recession Impact Your Race Plans? | on February 22nd at 8:21 am

    […] economic approach to the racing world (applicable to all kind of competitions) suggesting that a recession period in the US economy could impact the participation in races across the country (and worldwide too). Actually not participation of local runners, but of those […]