Over 15,000 millennials–73 percent of whom were female–took part in the two part study which examined the demographics, motivations and behaviours of an entire generation of runners.
Respondents were first asked to identify as one of four subgroups of so-called ‘runner types’:
- 18 percent (14% female; 29% male) said they were ‘serious competitive runners’ who identified most with the following statement: “I vigorously train in an attempt to always run my best time.”
- 65 percent (67% female; 59% male) identified as ‘frequent/fitness runners’ who “run to maintain or improve my health and/or fitness.”
- 16 percent (18% female; 10% male) said they were a ‘walker/jogger/recreational runner’ who “participate in events mostly to have fun, be with friends or for a cause-related purpose.”
- 1 percent (1% female; 2% male) were ‘obstacle event participants’ who said they “participate in events that usually require me to overcome obstacles and get muddy.”
Perhaps not surprising, the majority of male and female millennial runners consider themselves healthy, 75 percent of whom consider themselves in “very good or excellent health.” Additionally, 77 percent of males and 73 percent of females also say they’re currently ‘fit.’
Among the sub-types, 93 percent of serious competitive runners rate their health as excellent or very good, followed by frequent/fitness runners (76%); obstacle event participants (71%) and recreational runners (45%). Ninety-four percent of serious competitive runners describe themselves as ‘fit’ followed by frequent/fitness runners (77%); obstacle event participants (72%) and recreational runners (38%).
Most millennial runners participate in running events to improve/maintain their physical health or to run in a new or unique environment. In addition to the physical benefits, many millennial runners also run to improve their mental and emotional health.
Serious, competitive runners participate in running events primarily because of their competitive aspects; recreational runners are also interested in the social nature of such events.
Among the many race distances that respondents stated they participate in, half-marathons and 5Ks were the most popular race lengths for the majority of millennial runners. Millennial runners are most likely to participate in events that are well-organized, provide challenge and offer new or interesting scenery. The majority of millennial runners have participated in a running event that supported a cause or charity–but the cause wasn’t the primary reason they participated.
The most important elements of an event that influences participation among all runner types are the event distance; the cost; and access to instant results after the finish. The majority of millennial runners are not influenced to participate because of a sponsor or because an event has social media feeds during the race.