Bethesda, MD – As the running industry emerges from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, race directors indicated that they are “cautiously optimistic” about their future compensation according to the results of the Road Race Management ninth biennial compensation study.

While nearly 40% of the study respondents indicated that their income was not affected during the pandemic, those whose income declined during 2020 reported that it had rebounded at least partially during 2021.

The breakdown was as follows:

Income did not change during the pandemic                          37%

Income fell in 2020, but fully rebounded in 2021                  10%

Income fell in 2020 but partially rebounded in 2021             39%

Income fell in 2020 and did not rebound in 2021                  14%

Only 47% of the study respondents reported that race directing is their sole occupation, indicating that race directing per se remains part time employment (at least in terms of compensation) for 53% of the respondents. An additional 15% replied that all of their income comes from within the sport of running or from the event planning business. Nearly 39% indicated that they have another full time occupation.

Compensation Levels

Race director compensation levels have remained relatively constant since the 2019 study, as shown by the figures below. (Figures are for all events conducted for individuals who conduct multiple events.)

                                                                        2019                            2021

Unpaid                                                            22%                             13%

More than $0                                                   75%                             83%

$5,000+                                                           70%                             76%

$10,000+                                                         66%                             72%

$20,000+                                                         64%                             67%

$30,000+                                                         59%                             62%

$40,000+                                                         55%                             59%

$50,000+                                                         52%                             55%

$60,000+                                                         46%                             47%

$70,000+                                                         39%                             42%

$80,000+                                                         36%                             39%

$90,000+                                                         35%                             32%

$100,000+                                                       29%                             26%

$150,000+                                                       11%                             12%

Impossible to estimate                                      3%                               4%

Not surprisingly, compensation was closely tied to race size, with 31% of the directors of races with over 20,000 participants earning over $100,000, while only 10% of race directors of events with between 1,000 and 1,999 participants are being paid at this level.

Road Race Management Editor and Publisher Phil Stewart said, “While there are still individuals who are conducting small, local events on a part-time basis at low levels of compensation — or none at all — the full-time directors of larger events or those conducting multiple events can earn a decent living in the sport. While many were impacted by the pandemic, there is optimism about the road ahead.”

The full results of the study appear in the December, 2021 issue of Road Race Management Newsletter, which is available for purchase for $15. To purchase and download the complete study results, visit

Founded in 1982, Road Race Management is a membership organization dedicated to providing timely information about the road running industry for race directors and other industry professionals through 11 yearly issues of Road Race Management Newsletter, on the web at and through free E-News blasts emailed twice a month. Road Race Management is also the publisher of Organizing Running Events: The Complete Guide to Staging a Successful Road Race, the definitive “how-to manual” for race directors at all levels, and organizes the annual Road Race Management Race Directors’ Meeting and Trade Exhibit each fall. Details on joining Road Race Management can be found at