Published on July 14, 2015 by Eric LePage  

With the number of obese people in America today being at a record high, people are looking to get into a sport that is both enjoyable and healthy. In years past, marathons and half marathons have been the most popular event for runners to participate in. However, since 2009, non-traditional running events have been increasing. According to Running USA, the number of non-traditional running event finishers surpassed half-marathon finishers in late 2011 and was up to 4 million finishers by the beginning of 2013.

With data provided by SBRnet, the majority of runners since 1999 are ages 25 through 34. Although the percentage of runners in this age group have nearly stayed the same in the past fifteen years, the total number of people who actually participate in running has doubled from 22.4 million in 1999 to 43 million in 2014. With this kind of growth, it not only means that running apparel manufacturers have seen a rise in sales, but it also means that there have been new opportunities to modernize the running community.

Running Shoe Industry Sales Trends

The chart listed above shows that the total pairs of running shoes in 1999 have increased from 29.5 million pairs to 45.1 million pairs. This drastic increase in sales has enabled the total dollars in the running market to double from 1,501.70 million to 3,063.70 million in just fifteen years. However, running apparel manufacturers are not the only people who have benefitted from the increased popularity of running. Businesses such as Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and Color Run attract many younger runners (mainly ages 23-35) who want a more non-traditional running experience.

These non-traditional running events that are also known as, “endurance running” are attracting registrants that are ideal for advertisers. Participants in these types of races are so enthusiastic about them, that they are spending $65 to $150 dollars on a single race. With millions of runners in the world, and people willing to spend so much money to participate in these events, there is no doubt that these companies are making record profits.

Much of the success that Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Color Run have had can be credited to creative branding and marketing. Their ability to attract customers of all ages and both genders has changed the running industry in a positive manner. However, with these types of events still new, there is still a lot of room to grow. What these companies lack is supporting technology and brand partnerships along with a solid social side strategy.

This blog post was written by Samford University student Eric LePage.


2014 State of the Sport - Part I: Non-Traditional Running Events. (2014, April 27). Retrieved July 9, 2015.

Footwear Running/Jogging. (2014). Retrieved July 10, 2015.

Litvak, W. (2015, June 25). Marathons & Mud Runs. Great Business, But Where's The Tech? Retrieved July 9, 2015.

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