I think that you can look at the “business” of outdoor activities to get a feel for where the sport is going.
The entry of major companies such as Spartan, Ironman and now Dick’s Sporting Goods (Todd Spaletto Discusses Dick’s SG’s Bold Outdoor Push | SGB Media Online) into the sport shows that all signs point towards trail being the new “cool” sport of the 2020s.’
These major corporations wouldn’t be investing in the trail if there was any question about the sustained growth of the industry over the next 10 years.
The sport has reached critical mass and is clearly on the way to moving from a sleepy niche to a major driver of personal fitness and activity.
In my opinion, the growth of the sport is tied to a generational change. The children of marathoners and Ironman athletes are looking for “their” sport. If mom and dad ran marathons or finished an Iron distance race…they are chasing the next mountain.
This generation is the fastest growing portion of the sport. This is not to say that there isn’t meaningful growth at other levels of the sport (because there is) but the 25-35 year old racers are surging into the sport all over the world.
So, has trail reached it’s crest? I don’t think so. Is this an anomaly? I don’t think so. Do we know where the growth of the sport will plateau? Not really…there is a lot left in the tank of growth at this point.
There will be a need to “help” the new entrants into the sport to that the sport we all love is still represented in the next 10-20 years.