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An Analysis of Congestion During Running Events from The Perspective of Runners: Prevalence, Impact on Safety And Satisfaction, and Preferred Controls

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This study aimed to examine the views of runners regarding their experiences with congestion during running events, including its prevalence, its impact on their safety and satisfaction, and their preferred controls to mitigate congestion. Runners ( n = 222) with varied experience participating in running events (1–5+ years, 5-km races to Ultramarathons, and a mixture of road, trail, and crosscountry events) completed an electronic survey. The survey was developed to assess the characteristics of respondents, whether they have experienced congestion during running events, the impact of congestion they have experienced during running events on their safety and satisfaction, and their preferred controls for congestion during running events. Survey data indicated runners had experienced some form of congestion prior to the race in the start corrals (93% of respondents), as the race started (97% of respondents), and during the race while running (88% of respondents). In turn, 73% of respondents indicated their experiences with congestion somewhat to extremely (i. e., rating of at least 3 on a 5-point Likert scale) negatively impacted their satisfaction with an event, while 43% of respondents indicated congestion somewhat to extremely negatively impacted their safety during an event. Regarding the impact of congestion on runner safety, 38% of respondents indicated they had slipped, while 27% of respondents indicated they had fallen during running events due to congestion. Further, congestion was attributed to injuries sustained (9%) and not finishing a race due to sustaining an injury (5%) during running events in some respondents. Respondents identified seeding runners based on previous run times (91%), use of wave starts (91%), and designing courses with limited pinch points, U-turns, and narrow paths (89%) as their most preferred controls to mitigate congestion during running events. Respondents resoundingly indicated self-seeding is not an effective method of managing congestion during running events. This study provides novel evidence that congestion is an issue for runners during running events, subsequently diminishing their satisfaction with events and posing safety concerns. In this way, race directors should involve runners in their decision-making processes when implementing appropriate controls to combat congestion for minimizing injury risk to runners and ensuring a viable participant base remains attracted to their events in the future.

Keywords: CROWDS; EVENT SAFETY; MARATHON; MASS PARTICIPATION; SPORTING EVENTS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia 2: School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 3: Human Exercise and Training Laboratory, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia

Publication date: June 23, 2022

This article was made available online on December 20, 2021 as a Fast Track article with title: "An Analysis of Congestion During Running Events from the Perspective of Runners: Prevalence, Impact on Safety and Satisfaction, and Preferred Controls".

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