“How many of my entrants will show up at my event?” is a question often asked by event organisers during the planning process. At Appin Sports, we have put together our top tips and expert advice to help predict entry numbers at your next event.

1. No Shows Are A Given

Most events have a standard yearly no-show rate. For the vast majority of events, those that enter but never make it to the start line are ineligible to collect a finishers medal or giveaway item. The no-show rate is mainly dependent upon the amount of training required for the event. Typically a 5k event will have a lower no-show rate compared to a Marathon. As the event distance decreases, so too does the training requirement, and therefore the no-show rate reduces also.

Expert Tip: For longer events, such as marathons, the no-show rate is usually in the region of 30-35%, but it can be as high as 40%. For half marathons, it is typically 15%-25%.

2. Get Runners To Withdraw From The Event

One to three weeks before the event, send an email to all the participants that have entered and ask those who do not intend to run to withdraw from the race. Offering a partial discount, or discount off the following year’s entry, can incentivise runners to withdraw. The places released can then be offered to other runners. Removing many ‘withdrawals’ will give you a more accurate indication of the number of entrants that are going to show on the day.

Expert Tip: Many entry systems have a ‘waiting list’ facility that can help streamline this process.

3. Monitor Trends

For many events, predicting the amount of entrants can be tricky- but it does not need to be. Monitoring your entry numbers/sales curve compared to previous years can be very helpful when predicting the following year’s entrants. Monitoring your entry data can give a much more accurate estimate of final entry numbers, if done well.

4. Consider Timing

The length of time before the event that participants sign up to the event can also impact the overall entry numbers. Runners entering many months before an event are statistically less likely to show up, compared to those that entered a few weeks before. It is therefore also worth considering when your event opens for entries.

5. Account For Travelling Distance

The distance and length of time that it takes to travel to the event can further affect whether or not entrants show. Individuals with injuries, or those who have been unable to complete their training plan, are not likely to travel a great distance to risk not finishing/fulfilling goals.


Expert Tip: Some entry systems give you a week-by-week entry total and automatically compare it to previous years. This gives valuable entry data, and you can see at a glance when entries are ahead or behind previous years.  It is also useful from a marketing perspective, allowing you to see what campaigns are working and which are not.

6. Gather Event Feedback

Have you noticed event questionnaires, or general feedback from participants, can have a positive or negative effect on the following year’s entry total? If an event is full of praise from participants, it could lead to an increase in entry numbers the following year. Having an accurate overview of feedback can help to indicate whether entries will be more or less than last year.

Expert Tip: On the evening following the event, send questionnaires to participants for feedback on all aspects (and ensure that the questionnaire is written and tested well in advance!). To encourage completion of the questionnaire, and to gather as much feedback as possible, it could be worth offering an incentive e.g. receive a discount for early bird entry to the next event after completion of feedback form.

7. Consider Entry Fees

Did you know that people are less likely to show for an event with a low entry fee, or free entry? The higher the entry fee, the greater the commitment will be from participants. For example, individuals are far more likely to turn up for a Marathon that has an entry fee of £60, compared to a free local 5k.

Expert Tip: Do not under or over price your event. Although it is likely that you want to make a profit from your event, you do not want to out price the event so that it becomes unaffordable or puts participants off. Likewise you don’t want to underprice so that people sign up but aren’t committed enough to show.