Special Report from The Outdoor Foundation and Montrail Illustrates the Reach of Trail Running in the US

As Americans strive to incorporate daily exercise into their schedule, trail running provides a uniquely rewarding outdoor experience that gives participants an opportunity to escape the urban and suburban environments as well as stay fit. This information is found in the Special Report on Trail Running 2010 released by The Outdoor Foundation, in partnership with Montrail. This the first time a special report on trail running has been produced by the Outdoor Foundation.

The Special Report on Trail Running presents detailed information on participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geographic region. It also provides data on “crossover” sports and common barriers to entry which is critical information needed by outdoor businesses, communities and non-profits working to connect Americans with the outdoors.

“In preparing our team for the upcoming sales season, this report enabled us to show that trail running fits our customer’s outdoor lifestyle,” said Donna Williams, Montrail Sales Manager. “We are seeing a new breed of runner on the trail as well. One that is youthful and driven towards achieving success in their outdoor pursuits. That is exciting for our industry,” Williams continued.

Key Findings:

Trail Running Participation

*4.8 million Americans ages 6 and older participated in trail running in 2009.

*In 2009, trail running participants made 153.7 million outings, averaging 31.8 days per participant.

*More than 82% of trail running participants also participate in road running.

*13.1% of trail runners tried the sport for the first time in 2009


*63.5% of all trail runners are male and 36.5% female.

*The 25 to 44 age group makes nearly half (48.9%). The 18 to 24 and over 45 age groups come in next (20% and 20.8% respectively). This is a fairly young demographic with 80% of trail runners being under 45 years of age.

*Over 86% of trail runners have a household income over $50,000, with 31.5% in an income bracket over $100.000.

*Over half (51.9%) of trail runners are college graduates.

Participation in Other Outdoor Activities

*98.4% of trail runners participate in another outdoor activity with the most popular choices being running or jogging on pavement (82.6%), day hiking (52.3%), bicycling (50.8%) and camping (43.5%).

Motivations and Barriers

*Friends and parents are the most influential in introducing trail runners to outdoor activities.

*Relaxation and a way to get exercise are the top two reasons cited by trail runners for participation in outdoor activities.

*A lack of time is the number one reason trail runners don’t get out more often. A lack of interest and a lack of money for equipment are also reasons.

“This report makes it clear that those runners with access to trails near their homes are gravitating toward the sport of trail running. This supports the Foundation’s initiative to encourage communities to create trails close to urban and suburban areas to promote ‘gateway’ access to outdoor sports in general,” said Christine Fanning, Executive Director of The Outdoor Foundation.

The Special Report on Trail Running is based on data collected for the Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, produced annually by The Outdoor Foundation. The report uses the responses of over 40,000 Americans ages six and older captured in an on-line survey covering 114 different activities. The survey, which has been conducted annually since 2006, is the largest of its type examining participation in sports and outdoor activities.

The 2010 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report will be released by The Outdoor Foundation mid-September and will detail the quality and extent of participation in outdoor recreation among all Americans age 6+, with a special focus on youth and diverse groups. To download a copy of the Special Report on Trail Running, visit: www.outdoorfoundation.org/research.

About the author

Ryan Alford