Participant Preferences Survey 2023: What are Participants Looking For in Races?

The following article was born out of a pair of surveys, one made in 2022 and the other one in the beginning of this year, 2023. We compare the results from the older survey with the new one, and draw some interesting conclusions on how participant preferences have changed and present the conclusions you can take-away from these learnings as an organizer. 

To see the full report of the 2022 Participant Survey, go to this article

To start with the 2022 RaceID Participant Report, one of the questions were; 

What size of race are you most interested in participating in next?


At that moment (with current global conditions) – most participants were looking at smaller, more local and (probably) cheaper races to compete in – which also might help explain why there was no strong trend in average registration value increasing.

Take away learning for race organizers

If you host a large race but are considering starting up a smaller more local race – now is still a good time to do so. And for those that organize local races already – lean into the local vibe! While international travel has opened up again, participants are still looking for races that are closer to home. 

How do Racers Find Their Next Race?


Many people use Online Calendars and Social Media – not so many use the RaceID app at the moment. However, it shows the potential that the app has to replace these (people usually have their phones out anyway while on social media). See this article that analyzes data on app use and registration conversions. Recommendations from friends are also high.

Take away learning for race organizers

Make sure you are active on social media and have a marketing plan for each of the platforms you have an account on. Also, make sure your race is represented with updates in relevant race calendars (here is a list of which ones to consider). Also, consider how you can encourage referrals among your existing participants.

What Is The Most Important Thing About Race Registration?


Security and Easiness are clearly considered most important during the registration process.

Take away learning for race organizers

Choose a trusted registration platform with up-to-date security and has an easy and simple system of registration for your participants. If it looks good and has an app, even better!

Optional Extras for Races – Are they Worth The Effort?

Finisher T-shirts, Medals and Merchandise:


Most people will buy a t-shirt, medal or similar – if the race is special or the price is reasonable. Some people will choose not to, if given the option, but that’s fine too – it saves on your budgeting and you are less likely to have spare t-shirts etc leftover at the end (participants that buy extras are more likely to show up).

For a more in-depth analysis on the topic of making medals and t-shirts optional, go to this post

Carbon Offsetting

Additional data from Icebug Experience West Coast Trail 2022 (on RaceID):  the organizers  added “Climate Compensation” (with various choices depending on type of travel to the race) to their registration, and saw a 35% uptake on the option (263 of 737 participants chose to offset their travel CO2).


80% of survey participants would, or would consider, offsetting their carbon emissions related to their race. Participants feel a responsibility, and are seemingly willing to pay for that at the point of registration. The reality of the offsetting might be lower, as shown by the Icebug Experience West Coast Trail (2022), but this is just one data-point that perhaps didn’t persuade participants on the method or pricing of the offsetting.

Refund Protect Insurance

For context: Refund Protect is a type of ‘extra’ that race organizers can choose to add onto their race registration form. The participant can opt to pay 10% extra to cover a ‘refund’ insurance of their registration fee. They can claim their registration back if they cannot attend the race (for given valid and provable reasons, including Covid19). Organizers still get the fee, even if the participant claims the refund so it’s a win-win.

We looked at our data in the past year (including at the ‘end’ of the Covid 19 Pandemic).

Refund Protect was purchased 30.5% of the time (on average).


Nearly 1 in 3 participants are interested in purchasing Refund Protect! This is a significant number, even if the Covid19 Pandemic might have inflated purchase. We will have to track this further in the coming months and years and see if this trend holds out.

Take away for organizers on Race Extras

If the race is a special one, people are going to want the t-shirt (or medal). Otherwise, you’ll need to make it affordable. Making it optional will decrease the number sold – but may increase participant experience – particularly for those that wouldn’t choose it. You’ll also get an exact number that you’ll need to order.

Offering a Carbon offset is also a good idea, just do your research and get the pricing right (and be transparent!). Additionally, giving your participants the option to purchase a refund protection can also be a relevant extra to add-on.

We hope you thought these insights were useful! To stay up to date on race trends, news and ways to optimize your race, make sure you subscribe to the bi-weekly organizer newsletter.