Running USA

Ethnicity Report

Published September 2016

While there is a wealth of running related research and statistics that address generational and gender event attitudes, behaviors, and participation, there is little information regarding ethnicity groups. As part of the 2016 Running USA National Runner Survey, Running USA split the data to assess three ethnic groups: 1) Blacks, 2) Asians, and 3) Hispanics to determine if there were any themes of note to help the running industry better understand potential nuances within these important groups. 


Runner ethnicity is not often captured during registration nor reported on in race results. Thus, no known formal statistics exist to understand any event behavior and trends among these groups. Over the past few years though, the running industry has seen a rise in ethnic specific running groups such as Black Girls Run, Concrete Runners, etc. and campaigns that have appeal to these groups.


The aim of this report is to report is to showcase some high level themes as initial insights. These differences can be leveraged when targeting messaging towards these specific groups to emphasize a few elements in addition to the major overall important areas across all runners in general.


Summary of Black Runners

Black runners represent an extremely active and involved running group. They participate in more events, are more connected to the competitive side of running, and are heavily vested in the use of social media. They are a very social and group-oriented set of runners.  As an ethnic group, they stand out for being the most differentiated from other runners as a group and a potentially attractive segment to cater to.


Compared to all runners overall, Black runners as a group are:


More Social

  • Blacks are most likely to:
    • Run in a group (20% vs. 14%)
    • Prefer larger races to smaller races (32% vs. 22%)
    • Take pictures while participating in an event (35% vs. 21%)
    • Share their race experience with others via social media (62% vs. 41%)
    • Use their local club /city website for event information (32% vs. 24%)
    • Indicate that social media is their first choice for event information (38% vs. 27%)


More Active on Facebook

  • Blacks are most likely to use Facebook to:
    • Find event information (58% vs. 44%)
    • Follow events (69% vs. 57%)
    • Follow professional runners (39% vs. 25%)
    • Follow other runners (non-professional) (64% vs. 43%)
    • Post general running photos and videos (70% vs. 52%)
    • Post race photos and videos (75% vs. 62%)
    • Post race results (65% vs. 49%)
    • Look for running motivation (64% vs. 44%)
    • Look for running training advice (62% vs. 38%)
    • Post mileage / running routes (59% vs. 35%)
    • Communicate with training partners (61% vs. 46%)
    • Share current training (59% vs. 36%)
    • Discuss running-related activities (73% vs. 52%)
    • Track friends / family in a race (60% vs. 44%)


More Active Event Participation

  • Have participated in the most events in the past year on average (9 events vs. 7 events).
  • More likely to have run a 10K (70% vs. 62%), marathon (50% vs. 41%), and 12K, 15K, or 10 mile (45% vs. 38%) in the past 2 years.
  • Expressed more interest in running a 5K (58% vs. 53%) or 10K (61% vs. 54%) in the next year.
  • Least likely to like participating in the same events every year (34% vs. 41%)


More Driven by Competitive Event Elements

  • Blacks rated the following elements of an event more important:
    • Chip timed (61% vs. 47%)
    • Medal or other memento for finishers (59% vs. 36%)
    • Accurate certified course (48% vs. 35%)
    • There is an expo (21% vs. 10%)


More Cause Related

  • Rated benefits an important cause more important in selecting an event (32% vs. 25%)
  • More likely to use Facebook to fundraise for a charity event (43% vs. 32%)


More Likely to Use their Phone / App on their Phone for Running Related Activities

  • Blacks are more likely to use their phone / app on their phone:
    • To track steps (31% vs. 18%)
    • For training programs (33% vs. 20%)
    • For interval training (27% vs. 16%)
    • For a virtual coach (22% vs. 11%)


Summary of Asian Runners

Asian runners were not that differentiated as a cohort from runners overall. They are more goal-oriented in their running and are more likely to be driven by a fun factor and scenery. These elements may appeal more to Asians when messaging to this group.


Compared to all runners overall, Asian runners as a group are:


More Likely to Run for the Following Reasons:

  • Meet a personal challenge (64% vs 56%)
  • Improve speed or endurance (65% vs. 50%)
  • To enter / train for a race (73% vs. 64%)


More Driven by Fun and Friends

  • Asians rated the following elements of an event more important:
    • Friends are doing it (42% vs. 36%)
    • It sounds fun (65% vs. 57%)
    • Scenic course (58% vs. 51%)


Referrals are More Important

  • More likely to learn about events through word of mouth (60% vs. 52%)


Summary of Hispanic Runners

As seen with Asian runners, Hispanic runners as a group did not show too many discerning characteristics from runners as a whole. They stood out for being more open to sharing their race experience and higher usage of Instagram.


Compared to all runners overall, Hispanic runners as a group are:


More Driven by Sharing their Experience

  • Prefer larger to smaller races (29% vs. 22%)
  • Like to take pictures while participating in an event (30% vs. 21%)
  • Like to share race experience with others via social media (50% vs. 41%)
  • Post race photos and videos on Instagram (35% vs. 23%)

Valued Partners :