27 May 2021, 11am
Questions posed by the survey revealed that:
- they are 20% less likely to participate in ‘live’ events over the next 12 months
- they are more than twice as likely to favour ‘virtual’ runs
- 72% of “new-pandemic runners” run for health and not competition, 18% more than runners dating from pre-pandemic days
While this confirms the common observation that running has increased in popularity during lockdowns and when movement has otherwise been restricted it does not tell us much more. In particular, are ‘new pandemic runners’ any different from ‘new runners’ at any other time, apart from being more numerous?
New runners have for decades started running for reasons of health rather than to participate in races, but at a later stage they very often do so. The ‘virtual race’ option has only become available during the course of the pandemic and may well provide a crucial stepping stone for ‘health runners’ to become engaged in live races. Certainly many race organisers view virtual races in this light and in no way see virtual racing as in conflict with live competition.