Impact of COVID-19
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we were quickly forced to move from our in-person races and run clubs and embrace virtual events instead. Though our community has remained active on our Facebook group, our runner participation has decreased, as has our income significantly. Because we are still supporting the running community, our operations have remained relatively the same, creating a difficult financial situation for us as a nonprofit.
As of late May 2021, road races were officially allowed to be held in the state of Massachusetts. However, there were still a series of regulations put into place such as staggered start times and limited contact between all people involved in the race.
In order for races to operate under safe conditions, race officials and coordinators need to careful plan out every element of the race ahead of time. This costs a significant amount of extra time and money not just in the days and weeks leading up to race day but on the day itself.
In early June 2021, Boston Road Runners sent out a Return to Running Events Survey in order to get an understanding of how members of the BRR community felt towards in person races and whether or not they would be comfortable attending these events.
45 members of the BRR community completed this survey.
40% of people said that they would continue to participate in virtual events.
84% of people said that they were already comfortable attending in person events and only 6.8% of people said that they couldn’t see themselves becoming comfortable.
Over 50% of respondents said that they would expect/require spacing out start times as well as vaccination card checks.
88.6% of respondents were fully vaccinated at the time of the survey.
Due to the regulations and restrictions still in place, and the cost of hosting races, Boston Road Runners was unable to host as many and the variety of races that were held in past. So far in 2021, BRR has been able to have their weekly Saturday Run Club as well as a new virtual race, The Nantucket 250.
In 2021, Boston Road Runners was able to host the Nantucket 250. This was a virtual race that started in Boston and finished on the Island of Nantucket. This race was designed as a virtual two month running challenge where runners had from April 1st to May 31st to complete their virtual 250 miles.
The goal of this race was to inspire people to continue to run and remain active during the Covid19 pandemic as well to raise funds for local non-profit organizations.
In order for this race to be as successful as it was, BRR had to create a new kind of virtual race experience that brings people together while simultaneously benefits the local community. Boston Road Runners utilized engaging graphics and content to celebrate each milestone reached during the race. BRR was also able to partner with brands, local business and charities in order to create a unified community and support system for the runners.
There were over 300+ participants from 147 unique cities and 22 US states and Canadian Provinces. Collectively, individuals ran over 30,000 miles over the 2 month span of this race. 59 runners completed the entire 250 miles. Over 125 runners completed 100 or more miles.
Community and Youth Engagement
As a nonprofit organization, we pride ourselves on giving back to our community through a variety of events supporting worthy causes and local youth.
Our community of passionate people inspire each other to reach their goals everyday. We host two weekly run clubs on Mondays and Saturdays, which aim to motivate people to run consistently and stay involved in our community. Beyond the events and races that we host, run club members have a group of training partners. Most importantly, every runner that interacts with Boston Road Runners becomes a friend. Our run clubs are free, consistent, and open to all. Everyone is welcomed with open arms, regardless of ability or experience. We have six ambassadors that help make this supportive environment possible. BRR ambassadors are energetic leaders that represent our organization and encapsulate our mission. They inspire our runners, such as through motivational posts on social media of their own running pursuits.
Because our community gives so much to us, we love giving back in any way we can.We partner with several nonprofits and assist these organizations with putting on road races in order to raise money for a cause they care about. One of our partners is the MataHari Womens’ Workers Center; we fundraise for their efforts towards social justice. We also use our platform to raise awareness for other causes, as seen through races like our Run for Suicide Prevention and International Women’s Run. By helping these nonprofits organize running events, we not only raise money for important causes, but we help bring our community together and raise awareness for critical issues.
“BRR is an excellent organization! When I first came to Boston as a freshman in pharmacy school I struggled with finding a group that I really connected with and with running accountability! BRR has given me some of the best couple of years of my life here in Boston and I am grateful for the new friends and good times!” - Leah Cherry, BRR Ambassador
“Running has always been my passion, and with BRR it’s a way to share my passion with others ! It’s a friendly and non-judgmental community of folks who love running.” - Mae Gillaud, BRR Ambassador
We want to encourage kids to run to help them stay active and learn how fun exercising can be. To make this happen, all of our road races have discounts for runners aged 18 and under. We also put on special community youth races. In 2019, we partnered with Mendell Elementary School of Boston Public Schools to host the Mendell Mile. This untimed race invited children in grades 1-5 to run 1 mile. We had a total of 206 children running at this event alone. It is our goal to make all of our events free for our youth runners in the future.
Beyond the events we host, we partnered with local youth programs at the end of 2021 such as: ChildObesity180, Girls on the Run, Boys & Girls Club, Title IX Girls, and Road to the Right Track. These partnerships help drive youth engagement in all of our races, inspire children to be active, and support the work these organizations do.
Run Club Community
Our weekly run clubs are the heart of the Boston Road Runners community. The Boston Road Runners run clubs, hosted on Mondays and Saturdays, are free and open to people of all ages, skill levels, and backgrounds. We also host special run club events. Like our run clubs, these races are free and open to everyone. The majority of participants are run club members, however, because the races occur at the same date, time, and location of our run clubs.
We seek to foster a community of inclusion and enthusiasm and are always looking for new members to join and contribute to our community. Our run club promotes solidarity among runners who are like-minded in their running goals and who can help each other grow as athletes, leaders, and community members.
The Run Club Waiver is a form that those who will be participating in the Boston Road Runners Monday and/or Saturday Run Clubs in 2021 must fill out. As of July 2021, 220 people had filled out this form with intent to participate in the Boston Road Runners Run Club.
The most popular age group for BRR runners is 40-49 years old with 27% of runners. 30-39 year olds is the next most popular age group with 26% of runners. Additionally, there is a greater percentage of female runners than male runners in Boston Road Runners: 76% are female and 24% are male. The 19-29 and 30-39 age groups, accounting for 49% of runners, contribute the same percentage of females and males respectively.
Of those who chose to disclose their ethnicity on the registration form, about 69% of runners identified themselves as Caucasian. Additionally, approximately 17% of runners disclosed that they are Asian, followed by 9% being Hispanic or Latino, 3% Black or African American, and 2% American Indian or Alaskan Native.
Of those who listed Massachusetts as their home state, just about two thirds (66%) live in four major cities: Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline.
Of those who specified the industry they worked in, “Other” was the most popular industry, with 30% of respondents. While there is a wide variety in the industries that people work in, the most popular industry (aside from “Other”) is the healthcare industry with roughly 21% of the runners who answered this question.
Runners could select from the following options to denote what they would like to hear about from BRR: Trail Running, Upcoming Races & Events, Volunteering, and Weekly Run Clubs. Runners demonstrated immense interest across all categories. Of those who answered this question, 89% wanted to hear about weekly run clubs, 88% about upcoming races and events, 54% about trail running, and 52% about volunteering.
Before joining our run club, nearly 80% of our runners trained alone. When they join BRR, these individuals are welcomed into a safe community of training partners and future friends. BRR provides them with not only a great opportunity to improve their running, but more importantly, a safe community of welcoming individuals.
Boston Road Runners planned 10 unique events in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. There was only one race that we were able to run: the Boston Cupcake Run, with 156 registrants. Additionally, this was the only run club event of 2020 thus far. All of our other events were canceled due to the pandemic. Between all of the events cancelled from March to December, it is estimated that BRR experienced a loss of 3,000 runners.
Despite this massive setback, BRR successfully put on two virtual events during the height of the pandemic in Massachusetts: the Boston Virtual Running Challenge, with trail running and road race components, and the Summer Run Fest. These virtual events attracted 130 total registrants and were our only special events of 2020 thus far. Additionally, BRR has implemented virtual biweekly run clubs and continues to harness social media to engage runners from a distance. The members in our run club are dedicated to keep running despite these hardships and show love and dedication to this special running community.
Sex of Runners
As of July 2021, the majority of our runners were female, which is consistent with the gender breakdown in previous years as well. Last year 2020, runners were approximately 68% female and 32% male. This year 2021, runners were approximately 76% female and 24% male.
Age of Runners
In 2021, runners ranged in age from 10 to 72 years old. As a whole, the most common age group was 40-49. About 27% of runners were in this age range, 26% of runners were between 30 and 39 years old, 23% were between 20-29, 18% were between 50-59 and 5% were 60+. Barely 1% were 18 and Under.
Home of Runners
The majority of runners in 2021 were from Massachusetts. MA runners make up about 86% of registrants. Within MA, the most popular cities that runners called home were Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville. Registrants came from 147 unique cities and 22 states/provinces. The chart below shows home cities in MA with 4 or more runners.
Racial Identities of Runners
When asked about their racial identities, 7.5% of runners preferred to not disclose that information. Of those who did report their racial identities, the vast majority were Caucasian at 65.8%. Nearly 14.2% of runners identified as Asian.
Education Levels of Runners
Our runners tend to be highly educated. About 76% of our runners have at least a high school education. Additionally, about 75% of our runners have at least a college degree, and 28% have graduate degrees. On a national level, about 36% of Americans have at least a college degree - when we compare this to the education levels of our runners, it is clear that they are an exceptionally educated group. 3.61% of our runners are Youth, a category for children ages 13 and younger. Considering our significant youth engagement, we anticipate that many of those who have Youth or High School education levels will seek higher education in the future.
Annual Household Incomes of Runners
In 2021, 44% of runners were not comfortable sharing their annual household income as this is sensitive information. However, the running community and our run club members are our friends and through our conversations with them, we have heard that many hold senior positions in their companies, leading us to assume that the majority who did not share their income are upper middle class.
Of those who shared this information, 5% were Students - people 21 and under who did not otherwise provide any income data. For those who did report their income, many of our runners tend to be wealthy. About 24% of runners reported an annual household income of $100,000 per year or more, with 13% of those earning $150,000 or more. Seeing the significant portion of our runners who are in their early 20s and younger, we assume that those who reported that their incomes are $34,999 and below are likely students who reported an income other than Student, and will be earning larger incomes after completing their education.
The topic that runners were most interested in hearing about was upcoming races and events - 90% of registrants indicated that they wanted to hear about this. 38% of runners wanted to hear about weekly run clubs, 37% wanted to hear about trail running, and 28% wanted to hear about volunteer opportunities. This suggests that many of our runners are not interested in participating with us on just a single occasion - they want to maintain contact with us, whether through future registrations or beyond.
When asked what motivates them to run, BRR runners’ responses show that, for most people, running is centered around individual satisfaction and achievement. For instance, about 52% of runners were primarily motivated to run by physical fitness, and 29% by stress relief. These two factors were the primary motivators for the overwhelming majority of runners. In addition, about 10% of runners were motivated by friends and 6% by competition. About 4% of runners found motivation by “Other.”
Acquisition of Website Users
As shown in the graph, bostonroadrunners.org attracts web traffic via a variety of channels. The most common traffic channel was Organic Search (41.2% of traffic). This category comprises individuals who did not arrive at bostonroadrunners.org through a direct web search, but via another referral channel, such as a link or search engine search. The second most popular channel that led users to our site was via a direct search (27.1%). The third most popular channel (12.3%) was a referral, meaning a suggestion from another website. Over 86% of our traffic came from these three channels.
Between January 1, 2021 and July 14, 2021, Boston Road Runners tweeted on 29 days for a total of 34 tweets. Boston Road Runners’ Twitter account averaged 25.91 impressions per day. An impression is the number of times a BRR tweet appears to users in either their timeline or search results. Furthermore, on the days where BRR tweeted at least once, we averaged 94.93 impressions per day. We have 5,424 impressions so far in 2021.
This data is from Boston Road Runners’ Instagram account from April 14, 2021 to July 14, 2021. By the end of this time period, Boston Road Runners had 776 followers. Impressions are the number of times our content is displayed to Instagram users. We have had 15,614 impressions in this three month time period. June was our most popular month with an average of 233.0 impressions per day. Additionally, July had also had an average of over 200 impressions per day.
This data is from Boston Road Runners’ Facebook page from January 1, 2021 to July 14, 2021. Facebook has been many of our runners’ most popular mode of communication as we share our runs with each other virtually. As of July 14, 2021, we have 2,944 likes from unique users of our Facebook page.
Total reach is defined as the number of unique users who had any content from our Page or about our Page enter their screen. This includes posts, check-ins, ads, social information from people who interact with your Page and more. Since January 1, 2021, we have reached 54,064 unique users. The quarter with the highest average daily total reach is January to March of 2021 with 358.5 people.
The pie chart below breaks down the people who have liked our Facebook page by age group. It is clear that the most popular age groups are 25-34 years old and 35-44 years old, accounting for 67.3% of our page’s likes. Additionally, 65.2% of our page’s likes come from females, 33.9% come from males, and 0.8% come from undefined genders.
The graph below shows the gender breakdown of the Facebook users in each age group who have liked our page. Since there are so little likes from 13-17 year olds, they cannot be seen on this graph, but 67% of 13-17 year olds giving us likes are female. The age group with the highest percentage of females is 18-24 year olds, with 72.3% being female. The percentage of females in each age group decreases as age increases, eventually hitting 52.8% female participation in 55-64 year olds and 55.9% female participation in 65+ year olds.
Likes of BRR’s Facebook Page by Massachusetts Cities means the number of unique users who have liked Boston Road Runners’ Facebook Page by July 24, 2021, broken down by the Massachusetts cities these people call home. Boston has far and away the most likes of our Facebook page; Boston has 952 likes and the next closest city, Cambridge, has 97 likes. The chart below shows a zoomed in map of Massachusetts with cities marked by a color coding system that indicates the cities’ number of likes as of July 14, 2021. The key indicates the range of likes that each color represents.
Likes of BRR’s Facebook Page by Massachusetts’ Cities
The pie chart below shows the likes of our Facebook Page for the 9 most popular cities in Massachusetts for Boston Road Runners and groups the rest of the cities into an “Other” category.
So far in 2021, Boston Road Runners has sent out 39 emails. The month where we sent out the most emails was March with 11 emails. There is a wide range in the number of people receiving emails; 25% of our emails went to 117 people or less, but another 25% of our emails went to 19,346 people or more. Our emails are sent to 6,463 people on average. In total, we have sent emails to 252,064 recipients in 2021. The largest number of people we have sent an email to in 2021 is 21,409 people. On average, 46% of recipients opened the email at least once. Our emails have roughly twice as many total opens as they have unique opens, meaning that the people who choose to view the email will view it twice, on average.
Thank you to everyone who makes Boston Road Runners possible, including our runners, volunteers, donors, and sponsors! We are very grateful that we are able to continue to grow our community. We love our runners and the positive impact that we are able to make on their lives. All of us at Boston Road Runners are so thankful for the support from sponsors and partners that allows us to do what we do.