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41% of people who take part in mass participation events expect to do more this year

A man runs through the dappled light of woodland. By Tara Glaser on Unsplash

Despite the cost of living crisis, only 12% of people who took part in mass participation events last year expect to do less in 2024, but making events more affordable, along with improving facilities and sustainability are top of the list for improvements sought by participants.

The Mass Participation Pulse from massive has asked over 7,000 runners, walkers, cyclists, swimmers, triathletes to share their thoughts and opinions since 2022. This year’s edition is based on almost 3,000 survey responses from mass participation event participants recruited through event providers, entry platforms and sports media in the UK and Ireland throughout October 2023. It looks at the ongoing cost-of-living crisis’s impact on participants and event involvement.

It found that the mass participation event respondents by far did most often was running / jogging at 77%, followed by trail running (10%) and triathlon (6%). Asked what they had done in the last five years, running (84%), walking (41%) and cycling (28%) came top.


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Overall too, 37% of respondents had taken part in an initiative to get people active, such as Couch to 5k, Run Together, jogscotland or This Mum Runs. 22% of respondents had taken part in Couch to 5k, rising to 40% of those who have been taking part in events for 2 years or less. This, massive says, suggests that these initiatives are succeeding in breaking down barriers to event participation by helping people become more active.

Fundraising for good causes

28% of those surveyed said they had fundraised for a charity as part of the last mass participation event they took part in. Of these, 68% had fundraised for them before and 32% had not. The main reasons given for fundraising were to raise money for a cause cared about (30%), and to raise money for a specific charity (29%). 19% said it was to do some good whilst taking part, for 10% it was to get a place, and for 9% it was to raise awareness of a cause they care about.  

More findings from this year’s report


Among the report’s conclusions it says that while there are challenges ahead there is also cause for optimism with increasing levels of participation and new audiences being attracted to events.

It suggests that:

“These new and younger audiences may have different expectations of events and motivations for signing up, but if as our data suggests, the longer people take part in events, the more events they tend to take part in. If we can keep these audiences, engaged and excited about the experience events offer then their impact should continue to grow.”

It also notes that “mass participation events don’t exist in a vacuum” and that initiatives like Couch to 5k that get people active seem to have been successful in breaking down the fitness barrier to event entry that exists for many. As such, it says, there may be opportunities for more initiatives that can do the same with different activities.

Another area to consider, it says, is how to reduce the rate of people falling out of event participation, which in part means ensuring events provide participants with what they’re looking for.