Trail running is none of your business (until it is)
The business of the outdoors is booming
Life never stands still. It’s always moving forward.
If the rules stay the same, the players change how they play.
Whether we like it or not, there is no “stay the same” because it’s downright impossible to stay in the same spot.
I’ll spare you any more cliches. You likely know where I’m going.
Trail running is an activity.
It’s also a business.
A business that is growing in an industry that is downright booming. The trail running shoe business alone is projected to grow from $6.4B (2020) to $9.4B (2027)1. There is a ton of cash to be spent on trail running, and so we can expect companies to fill that space with plenty of stuff (read: sh*t), that we can throw our money at.
Care to subscribe to my newsletter? Starting at $…
I’m kidding! For now.
And that’s kind of the thing about the industry right now. It’s going to grow a lot in the next short while, and change is going to come with that.
A lot of that change is good! Women continue to pour into the sport, at double the rate of men2 (which is great news, because in 2019 the sport was divided 77%-23%. Also noteworthy, the ITRA will make the next survey non-binary). According to this same report, the sport is also getting younger. That’s also great news! If trail running is going to flourish, it needs to be inclusive and growth comes from all people being welcome into the sport early and incentivized equally.
It has to only be a matter of time before your favourite streaming option has some kind of trail running docuseries you can follow. The sport has personalities that could carry viewers from episode to episode. Courtney Deuwalter would be very easy to turn into a household name!
Imagine the possibilities of a sport in the limelight like this. The growth could be massive. Professional trail runners could actually be a thing. Paid to compete and be ambassadors for the sport.
More races and race series would pop up. More products would be created and refined. More trail running fix for your trail running addiction.
The trouble with all of that, of course, is we have such a great idea of what growth looks like already, from countless industries before. It’s… what it is.
To have all of those races and race series pop up will be awesome! The inevitability of that is that the ones that don’t fail will likely be bought out by larger companies seeking to squeeze every drop of revenue possible. Economies of scale and all of that. This is already happening with some race series purchasing others3.
This will play out across the sport from races to gear.
Another possible result of the growth, is the sport looking to standardize with an eye on Olympic inclusion, or just more international recognition in general.
There is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s kind of how it all works, and if we want the sport to grow, we can’t pick and choose the outcomes. None of these outcomes are guaranteed either! It’s just me writing the thoughts in my head(…).
Another possible outcome of all that growth is the sport becoming cheaper to participate in and gain entry to. If I’m going to acknowledge economies of scale, I can’t pretend that doesn’t make it possible to drive down costs and therefore reduce the barrier to entry. There is a long list of companies out there who have reduced profits in order to include more people.
Ok, that last line may have needed the sarcasm font.
And while I’m being a sarcastic jerk, I can’t ignore the fact that there are plenty of companies looking to compete on cost. Driving down price can be a thing.
You’re probably thinking I must really know what my belly button looks like at this point :)
I don’t have any grand stance to take. I’m not about to try and get in the way in any fashion. I worry a bit about where it’s all going but am accepting of the fact that whatever will be, will be.
The trails will still be where I go to be happy. They may be busier, but there may also be more of them!
Some might even be by admission ;)
What do you want to see?
I wonder what you all think about this?
Doom or gloom or somewhere in between?
Where do you think the sport is going?
If you enjoy the newsletter, I would really appreciate it if you could like, share, subscribe, or comment! I’m trying to make this the best trail running newsletter it can be and I certainly appreciate your time. Thank you all and happy trails :)