2018 Running USA Industry Conference Showcases Trends & Thought Leaders in Endurance

The 2018 Running USA Industry Conference powered by ACTIVE Network wrapped earlier this month, marking another year of insights and innovation at the largest endurance running trade association event in the world. Gathering industry professionals from across the globe–this year’s attendees represented over 20 different countries–the conference included presentations, breakout sessions, panel discussions and, of course, plenty of group runs and networking.

Powered by Purpose

ACTIVE Network is a founding member of Running USA, and Cristine Kao, ACTIVE’s Senior Director of Global Marketing, was on the scene from day one to the closing reception. Throughout the conference, she noted attendees’ high energy and open minds. For example, a first-time Women’s Networking Meetup drew a crowd so large, it was standing-room-only.

“There are so many new ideas in the industry,” says Kao. “There’s a sense of purpose.”

Afdhel Aziz’s keynote speech reinforced this sentiment. The author of “Good is the New Cool: Market Like You Give a Damn” touted the power of endurance events to drive purpose-focused goals. A staggering $1.2B is raised by running events each year for causes big and small.

The Endurance Experience

A two-fold industry trend ties back to Aziz’s key insight. As larger, longtime organizers see a decline in registration, more first-time events are popping up each year. Participants are also skewing more heavily toward the experience-seeking enthusiast, rather than the competitive runner, and they may be more attracted to smaller, regional and more purposeful events.

Kao explains the takeaway for organizers. “How do you create a holistic experience for both the racer and the everyday runner? As a race director, you have to consider both,” she says. “There’s an inherent alignment in that endurance running provides a unique experience for people.”

Designing Destination Events

An Idea Lab session led by Sam Renouf of Motiv Sports placed even greater emphasis on the experiential consumer. Entitled “Running as a Destination: How to Attract International Participants,” Renouf’s presentation highlighted the Sydney Marathon as a case study.

The popular event, marking its 17th year this September, courts runners from around the world via multilingual marketing, enhanced digital initiatives and positioning itself as a destination event that showcases Sydney’s unique culture. Renouf’s four elements of a destination event that will attract an international audience include (1) Location, Culture and History; (2) A Sense of Community; (3) Ease of Access and (4) Bragging Rights.

Watch the Experts

Building on the above insights from this year’s Running USA Industry Conference, check out our panel video featuring a discussion with three industry veterans:  Rich Harshbarger, CEO of Running USA; Sam Renouf, President of Motiv Sports and Dave McGillivray, Founder of DMSE Sports.

Will we see you in Puerto Rico in 2019?