How Far Will Participants Travel for a 5K?


At ACTIVE Network, we’re interested in answering an endurance event marketing riddle: What is the distance, for any event, in which your marketing efforts become less effective?

What does that equation have to do with filling endurance events?

Basically, if you know the distance your participants are willing to travel for your event, you can determine how far out you should market. It will help to answer the question of how far out you should focus your endurance event marketing for an event taking place in Seattle or Chicago or Dallas. Right now, race organizers are forced to take blind guesses at how far their participants will travel for any event.

Insight into that exact distance means more participants and increased revenue

If we use the example of an endurance event in Dallas, it’s kind of a no-brainer to promote the event in cities like Fort Worth, Frisco and Ferris—all places within 30 miles of the city center. But what about towns further out? Should the same radius be applied to a marathon as a 5K? Race directors are likely missing out on potential participants by not knowing the exact distance participants will travel for their event.

concentric map endurance reach

We’ve been combing through the data we’ve collected after more than 15 years in the endurance industry and we are now able to answer that riddle. The concentric heat map above shows the distance at which marketing efforts become less effective for five different types of events (each ring is a different type of event).

If we look at the innermost circle, we see that for a 5K, the distance is about 50 miles to achieve a 75 percent fill rate. That means that promoting your 5K more than 50 miles away won’t result in a positive correlation between more participants and more marketing dollars spent.

By contrast, the outermost circle shows that the distance increases to more than 200 miles for marathons in this location.

How far will participants travel for your event?

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