Does the phenomenon have lead in the wing? In full boom during the ten years before the covid period, trails, nature runs and other steps have been developed everywhere and few municipalities do not have a running competition organized by this or that association once a year. An offer that has embraced the aspirations of often neophyte runners, whose numbers have increased considerably as a result of outdoor sports. Except today, since the health crisis, test attendance is down.
A 30% decrease
“After covid, the events by the sea went well, unlike the events that were more inland, says Adrien Boudet, the creator and director of Chronowest. But this year, it’s hard everywhere. I’d say there’s a 30% drop in participation. To speak in general. The trend is national and not specifically Breton. This is surprising because the circuits remain the same and the registrations have not increased. Even the big races fill up less early. However, there have never been so many runners. Is it the increase in fuel prices? Is the spirit of competition waning? The explanation is undoubtedly multifactorial. »
This trend obviously weighs on organizers, especially of small events, who sometimes struggle to cover their expenses. “This year we had 140 participants compared to 250 in 2019, during the previous edition, laments Marie-Paule Buzulier, president of the Foulées de la Micheline de Saint-Barnabé (22). I really have no explanation. It is true that we fell at the same time as the Trail de Guerlédan but that had already happened and we were still full of people. Luckily we’re throwing a party in the back but we’ll still land on our feet. There are significant fixed costs, calendar registration, this in Klikego, civil protection, ambulance…”
An uncertainty of weight
Most organizers will leave, though. Sometimes in a longer format to accommodate changing demand. “People look for challenges in distance, more than performance in time”, explains Roger Hervé, head of the organization Bosses de Broons (22). Small events have lost interest. »
Gaëtan Louis has also pointed out this change in behaviour. “We see some events that are at -50% and others that fill up immediately, especially in trail and ultratrail, but in general there is a drop in all types of races, explains the creator and manager of Breizh Chrono. . We note that there are many more non-runners than before (20%, compared to 8% before the health crisis). When we talk to athletes, many say: “I’m waiting to see”. In fact, they engage less. It is not filled as before because there is more uncertainty with covid. It must also be said that some have discovered running in a different way, especially in a non-collective, non-organized way. Others left with personal challenges. Some have started running but haven’t taken the competition step yet. When everything falls back into place, there is inertia. I’m sure, I think in a few years everything will be back to the way it was. »
Only certainty, covid has turned our lives upside down and yesterday’s habits are no longer today’s. Is the craze for track and off-stadium racing now a thing of the past? “Now there are so many options in terms of sports disciplines, acknowledges Maryse Le Gallo, a former high-level athlete who participates in several organizations in the Morbihan. In general, anyway, we are less in the competition. Demand revolves more around notions of leisure, wellness and health. The marathon runner also believes that the offer is at risk of drying up due to the aging of the organizers and the lack of renewal. “I think it will become more and more expensive because we will have less and less volunteer services. We tend towards the professionalization of organizations. It’s kind of our new world. Meanwhile, the non-stadium racing calendar continues to offer, across the country, events big and small for everyone. Until when ?