Small-scale race events in natural areas: Participants’ attitudes, beliefs, and global perceptions of leave no trace ethics

J. Tom Mueller, B. Derrick Taff, Jeremy Wimpey, Alan Graefe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Small-scale race events are a popular form of recreation in natural areas with the potential for social and environmental impacts. Leave No Trace-based communication and education strategies are the most prevalent form of mitigating recreation impacts on public lands. To understand competitive race participants’ perceptions of Leave No Trace, this exploratory study compared race event participants’ attitudes, evaluative beliefs, and global perceptions of Leave No Trace by event type: gravel road running, trail running, mountain biking, and motorcycle trail racing. Data were collected using online post-event surveys. Participants were sampled from five competitive race events on public land held during fall 2015 to summer 2016. Significant differences between event types were found for all constructs examined. Motorcycle racers were the least likely to agree that Leave No Trace is an effective method for protecting the environment, least likely to believe that humans have the potential to cause social or environmental impacts, and were the least willing to change their behavior if they found out it was damaging the environment. Runners’ attitudes toward specific Leave No Trace behaviors were the least in line with Leave No Trace recommendations, while mountain bikers were the most in-line. Management implications: When issuing permits and managing events on public natural areas, managers should approach each affair differently, realizing that the type of event may influence the level of social and ecological impact. Managers should contact event organizers as early as possible to raise awareness of possible impacts, provide tailor-made messaging to participants, and develop management plans specific to the event and location that monitor and adaptively manage impacts to preserve social experiences and ecological resources. This will help managers remain flexible in their event management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
StatePublished - Sep 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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