Running event participation continues to increase year after year, which is no surprise to the timing industry. More runners easily mean more events to time, and more athletes to time within these events.
What is new, however, is the explosion of runners in non-traditional events (also known as experiential events or mob events), such as color-infused runs, glow-in-the-dark events and obstacle races. These events do not typically require a timer to track the whereabouts of runners along the course or carefully monitor the finish times of elites.
Running USA reports that in 2013 there were over 19 million finishers in timed running events throughout the US. They estimated 4 million participants in non-traditional races that same year. Based on these numbers, timed events had 83% of total participation for running events in 2013.
What does this mean for timers?
Non-traditional events typically do not need timing. Runners are participating for the ‘fun of it’ and the experience of running through a cloud of colored cornstarch or crawling through five foot piles of foam. Moreover, the traditional 5K has even morphed from a fully timed event to an optionally timed event. Many 5K runs now offer the option of chip timing to runners, sometimes for an added fee. As the popularity of the experiential event grows, registration competes with those events that require timing, resulting in the possibility of less timed runners.
Is this detrimental to the timing industry?
Absolutely not. Timed running events are still growing! There is clear continued growth in half and full marathon event participation, as well as shorter distance timed events such as the 5K and 10K.
Moreover, many of these non-traditional events are a launching point for future distance runners who will continue to participate in timed events for a long time to come! As the young mobster further embraces the active lifestyle, he will continue to seek out that next adventure, that next distance to tackle.
So, my friends, the timing industry is alive and well! Continue to offer best-in-class timing services, diversifying the types of events you time, and offering differentiating products like custom tags.
“Keep on keepin on.’”– Joe Dirt