At the end of 2021, we conducted a survey on trail running community and culture to better understand what lures runners to the trails and what the trail running experience means to them. When we asked, “What is the one word you would use to describe trail running?,” 125 respondents answered with the word “fun” followed by “challenging,” “awesome,” and “peace.”
The following is an overview of the survey results from nearly 1300 respondents. Of these, 30% were in the 45 -54 age group, and 27% ages 18-44. The largest category was the 55+ age group with 43%. Complete survey results are made available to corporate members at the Switchback, Steep & Rocky and All-terrain levels.
50% of respondents were from U.S. mountain states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada) or Pacific states (Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii), and just 3% from outside the United States.
Why do you run on trails?
- To experience the outdoors and connect with nature – 94%
- To stay fit – 81%
- To train for races – 62%
- To experience new parks and venues – 60%
Additional top scoring responses included “for general mental health”, “it’s easier on joints and muscles that pavement” and “for community and being with friends”.
What do you like most about trail running?
- Getting away from pavement and cars- 33%
- Challenge of the terrain – 16%
- Experiencing new parks and trails – 7%
- The community – 2%
Do you own a pair of trail-specific running shoes?
- Yes – 92%
- No – 6.5%
- I’m considering buying a pair – 1.5%
How many trail races have you run in the past 3 years?
- 4-10 – 31.5%
- 1-3 – 29%
- More than 10 – 25.5%
- None – 14%
Do you have a coach?
- Yes – 14%
- No – 83%
- I’m considering getting one – 3%
[PRO TIP: Are you ready to take your training to the next level? Check out our directory of trail running coaches and camps]
Which trail running activities have you done, or are considering doing? (select all that apply)
- Travel to an out-of-state trail race – 80%
- Participate in group trail runs – 65.5%
- Participate in a trail work day – 56%
- Watch trail running movies – 55%
- Listen to trail running podcasts – 42.5%
- Watch live stream of a trail running race – 37%
- Travel internationally to a trail race – 27.5%
- Attend a trail running camp or clinic – 21%
- Attend a trail running non-competitive festival – 21%
[PRO TIP: Can’t get enough trail running content? Check out our list of trail running podcasts]
Do you participate in any of the following activities? (select all that apply)
- Hiking – 86%
- Cycling – 58.5%
- Water sports – 23.5%
- Yoga – 35.5%
- Weight training – 58%
- Team sports – 6.5%
[PRO TIP: Top Cross Training Tips for Trail Runners]
We will soon be conducting our annual spring trail running survey. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our email list to receive an alert when the survey launches.
Past ATRA Survey Summaries:
- March 2022 – Why to trail runners DNF?
- June 2021 – Spring Trail Runner Survey Summary.
- May 2020 – Spring Trail Running Survey Summary.
- November 2020 – Trail Running in the Pandemic.
- July 2019 – Montage Mountain Half Marathon Survey Summary.
- February 2019 – FOURmidable 50K Survey Summary.
- December 2018 – Moab Trail Marathon Survey Summary.
- Spring 2018 – General Trail Running Survey Summary.
- Spring 2017 – General Trail Running Survey Summary.
- Spring 2016 – General Trail Running Survey Summary.
- December 2016 – Moab Trail Marathon Survey Summary.
- November 2015 – Gender Equity in Mountain Running Survey.