The relationship between runners' environmental paradigm and their motives to participate in an urban or rural marathon

Document Type


Publication Title

International Journal of Festival and Event Management


Health, Exercise, and Sport Sciences Department




Early online publication



Publication Date



The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of runner’s concern for the environment plays as a source of differentiation in the type of race they choose to participate. The study also seeks to explore how the environmental consciousness relates with participation motives in an urban and rural race setting.

Participants from urban and rural races were surveyed to explore the relationships between their environmental consciousness, their race selection type and the sport tourism motivational profile for the runners in each of these race locations.

A logistic regression was statistically significant in predicting urban vs rural race choice, correctly classifying 84 percent of cases. Increases in motivational responses relating to self-enrichment, social needs, catharsis and aggression were all associated with an increased likelihood in choosing an urban race. Conversely, motivational constructs related to tourism (e.g. destination attributes) were particularly effective in classifying rural race participants. Subsequent tests revealed significant differences in five of the nine race motives between runners based on their low, medium and high levels of environmental consciousness.

Research limitations/implications
Implications from this study serve to extend the literature on sport and tourism sustainability by understanding the environmental paradigm and sport tourism motives of distance runners in urban and rural race destinations.

Practical implications
This study also serves event organizers from a practical standpoint by offering suggestions to market and execute events in line with participants’ underlying motives which were found to be different in an urban vs rural setting.

In a highly competitive event space like road races, effective differentiation and marketing are paramount to attracting participants. This study advances the research in this area by exploring the role that runners’ concern for the environment plays in their destination and event choice, as well as the differences that may exist in the sport tourism motivational profile for runners at an urban vs rural race destination.