2022 Events: Low Participation Numbers?

Not sure if it is just my area, but I am sure noticing a much lower participation rate at races and other events in this current 2022 event season. Super rough estimate is that total numbers are about half that which I saw in 2021. A couple of events have been teetering on the verge of cancelation since they could not even recoup the costs of hosting an event.

I am in eastern Montana, which is a bit of a ‘cycling & multisport desert’ in ways, but we have a range of repeat local events that have had great turnouts in 2019 and before. 2021 was fairly decent too, as it was about the time that most things here opened up again and I think many people were itching to get back to outside events in person with lots of other people.

I have seen a few hints that the low numbers might be more widespread and even happening in other countries. I suspect there could be a range of influences with respect to the current state and even comparing to last year. Is this something that others are seeing in their areas?

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From my limited viewpoint: In the northeast, gravel is still booming. Big events all sell out quickly, and new events have good numbers. The Wilmington Whiteface 100k MTB race returned this year after two years off and beat 2018 and 2019 numbers by a good amount.

Cyclocross seems healthy but fairly small. Numbers seemed similar this fall to the pre-Covid season in 2019-20.

Road race numbers seem to have dropped off in my area (NY, VT) but I think the southern NE scene around Boston might be doing better?


Gravel and MTB ultras are booming as ever. Local XC races are low numbers just like last year. Still early in the season though.

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For my own personal perspective, I road mostly gravel events last year with a road event or thrown in. This year I just haven’t thrown in those road events.

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Florida (and the SE USA) seems pretty consistent. The only thing that effects numbers is potentially the multiple different events on the same day. Numerous times we’ve had two or three different race events on the same weekend but in different locations.

The other issue is the race volume. It’s easy to get burned out with races starting in January and going into December. I’ve already competed in over 15 races this year



Pisgah area races have been continuing to sell out through the pandemic and now. I know we’re 100% a destination at this point so take that for what it’s worth. If I’m serious about racing a local event, I try to get an entry early… There is no local XC so this is all endurance MTB and gravel.

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I did Ironman VA 70.3 in 2019 According to athlinks there were 1539 either finishers or starters not clear.

It changed location from Williamsburg to Roanoke but just did 2022 Sunday, ironman website says 1540 finishers/participants again not sure.

Only other races I have done this year were a local trail 10k and half marathon, neither of which I had done in a few years. Looking at results appears similar participation in both ~100 and 360 respectively both this year and in 2015 I think it was when I did them. Possibly they were down from right before covid but the timing company they use is annoying to check past years.

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Road numbers have been low in NorCal IMO. A lot of Velo Promo races seem to be in danger of getting cut after several cancelations already this year.

Grasshoppers and gravel races are booming though.


Yeah, the big gravel events in VT (Rasputitsa, Rooted Vermont, VT Overland) all sold out within the first 20 minutes or so. Turnout at Rasputitsa and the other event I did was pretty huge with people coming from all over the East Coast and some even farther.


South Germany, especially Bavaria where I live.

Many XCM events have vanished over the last few years. One reason is low participation numbers. One organizer told me that they have basically lost most of the BOP field. They all have E-Bikes now. Adding to that that it has become more and more difficult to get these events organised. Local administrations, environmental concerns and so on and so on.

We have no gravel events. And probaly never will have.

However, what’s really booming - especially in the mountains - (ultra) trail running events. Easier to organize, not so much concern with local administrations. And far more women participate. In cycling it is perhaps a few percent. In these running events much much larger.


In the SE, gravel and road century and fondos have a lot of people attending. Road races are few and far between (they started to fade away before the pandemic).


In the mid-Atlantic region of the US - I think event count is still way down but participation in the remaining events remains strong

Whether this is because there are fewer people, but compressed into fewer events, or if there would be the same level of participation if event count grew to pre-2020 numbers - I don’t know

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Events in many sports are struggling. For example the Wharf to Wharf which is a big road race here locally used to cap entries at 16,000 and would sell out in minutes. There were still open spots weeks later. Bay to Breakers in San Francisco that once averaged 70,000-ish participants was a fraction of itself this year. Numbers have dropped dramatically this year in high school sports as well, especially females. That said some areas, especially affluent communities have seen an increase. The gap has widened between the haves and the have nots.

Cycling is no doubt a high cost affluent sport. While sports in this category, such as golf, has boomed… cycling not so much. The simple answer may be accessibility (lack of races) or just that people got used to enjoy just riding rather than racing. I do wish we had more chances to race in my area but it is very limited.

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Here in the UK, participation numbers are down in lots of races, like local road races and even time trials. There seem to be less events too, even less than last year. Don’t know about “events” like sportives.

As sryke says, races are becoming increasingly hard to organise, local authorities set lots of rules or charge ridiculous prices for venues.

But I also think cycling has changed, it has become a lot more informal. Why join a club or obtain a racing license, when you can just chase strava koms with your friends? Or ride the odd sportive - much less complicated, just turn up or not, no further commitment required.


Important point! I came into cycling in the late 80s/early 90s. And this was a typical club culture then. Racers had a license. And cycling was not as elite as it is now, a more diverse croud with regards to job background.

And since there were many clubs with many members many races got organised. You had proper road races every week. This cliub culture is dying or has died. And therefore, races have vanished. And since there aren’t any races or clubs anymore, (potential) riders are disappearing as well. there is a lot of talk about organising more races for juniors. However, if there are races only a handful show up. There aren’t simply anymore.

If I go South to Italy it’s still a strong club culture there. And therefore, they have plenty of races. However, what always surprises me, with all this culture there is not a single “real” Italian pro WT team.


Seeing strong participation in Gravel and XC stuff in Texas. I haven’t paid attention to local road racing in years, but things like the MS150 still seem to be thriving. I have some friends who did Hincapie Lehigh (Pennsylvania) last weekend and said it was so packed with riders that it didn’t feel safe at times.

Is the decline you are seeing just road racing/criteriums, or larger?

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Kind of a mix. My first event this season is the 2nd year of a MTB race that drew 90+ riders last year. 3 weeks before the event, they had 20 riders is all. After some extra marketing and such we have 44 signed up with the race this Saturday.

In the multisport side, we had 3 separate local sprint tri/du events in the years before CV. This year, those all merged into a single event, and the numbers I am hearing are low.

Road seems all but dead here. There was a decent showing for a long running Roubaix style event with mixed surfaces. And our state champs seemed ok from the results list, but far from the peaks I have seen in the past. That specifically seem to follow the trend I have heard in other areas though.

Gravel seems to be doing well and like the best of all disciplines around here. There are some notable events that hit their rider caps, but it took further into the registration to hit them with a few classes only filling the weeks before. That’s in contrast to those same events selling out months before the event in prior seasons.

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Cyclo x is alive and kicking in the UK. And TTs .
The big endurance team events like 24/12 seem not to be attracting the numbers.
Probably because of high cost to enter, and fuel prices deterring people from travelling far.

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Our local triathlon was just canceled due to low registration. Normally there is around 300 participants and this year only 150 had registered :frowning_face:.

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This is a good point since Chad is in eastern Montana. Not a ton of people there, so it could be prior participation was heavy on travel?