Americans Love Their Half Marathons!

Americans Love Their Half Marathons!

It is no secret that I like running, and apparently, I am not alone! Running in the USA has looked at half marathon statistics for 2011, and the results are very interesting. Despite record levels of obesity in America, we are also seeing a push towards more fitness — just look at the popularity of apps and gadgets that track how far you walk, run or bike, or how many exercise themed apps are out there! And apparently, the half-marathon is the most popular distance!

On the one hand, I am not surprised. Halfs are my favorite race distance too. Plus there’s the “Rock n Roll” race series, which has a heavy focus on the half marathon distance. Heading to one of these races is a lot like a rock concert — there are bands, lots of sweaty people, and beer at the end! What could be better?

Still, it says a lot about how much we all like a challenge, since a half marathon can be a tough distance. While most people could just jump up and run one, it is not going to be a pleasant experience. It is not nearly as accessible as a 5k, and halfs generally tend to be pricier too. In my area, you can throw a dart at a calendar between April and October, and chances are there’s at least one 5k within a 20 mile radius of the date you hit. But availability doesn’t equal popularity, and clearly more runners will turn out for a 13.1 mile race!

Here’s some of the facts Running in the USA pulled together:

  • Since 2003, the half-marathon has been the fastest growing road race distance in the United States, and for six consecutive years (2006–11), the number of 13.1 mile finishers has grown by 10% or more each year. No other U.S. road distance comes close to this growth rate during the Second Running Boom (circa 1994).
  • Since 2000, the number of half-marathon finishers in this country has more than tripled (482,000 to 1,610,000), an increase of 234%.
  • 59% of half-marathon finishers were females (approximately 950,000, a record).
  • In 2011, there were a record number of 30 U.S. half-marathons with 10,000 or more finishers. This has nearly doubled since 2009 when there were 17 with 10,000-plus finishers; in 2000, there was only one.
  • There were a total of 43 half-marathons that make up the Top 100 U.S. timed road race list for 2011 with 16 of them from the nationwide Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.
  • Like the past 5 years, there were more than 30 inaugural half-marathons in the U.S. last year, and 2011 produced the largest debut annual half-marathon ever, Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah, with 14,163 finishers (previous record, 13,835, P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona 2004).

What is even more fun is looking at the age and gender breakdowns. Apparently, I am not the only early 30’s woman to start running half marathons, as we are the largest single demographic. Women in general are running more half marathons than men. Guys, this means that more women at races are more likely to chick you. You’ve been warned.

Are you a runner who likes the half marathon distance? Have you contributed to these statistics in 2011? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

4 Comments on "Americans Love Their Half Marathons!"

  1. The half may be growing in popularity, but there would have had to be a huge dropoff in 5k runners to have the half be the most run event.

    I ran two halfs myself last year, but I like smaller events myself. One of them had exactly 200 finishers, and the other 860. Beer at the end sounds good, but the 200 runner event was an inaugural, and I think that they underestimated the food that they needed, because we slower runners finished just after 10 am in August to find that the food was – pizza.  That was a first. The 860 runner event has been run for many years, coincides with the apple harvest, and runners are served apple crisp at the end – and there is plenty for everybody. (They also have the standard bagels, bananas, oranges, yogurt and yogurt drinks, energy drinks, cookies, etc.)

    And I don’t mind being “chicked”… I’ll stare at the back of beautiful, athletic women all day.

  2. Oh I would love to run a race where there was apple crisp at the end!

    Agreed about smaller races-I have done two RnR races and while I liked them, they are a bit overwhelming. The one good thing is that even as a slow/mid pack runner you are never alone on the course.
    I am considering a fall marathon and I would rather run a smaller event…I don’t need 30k people around me to finish!

  3. This is it:

    Fun race, but they sell out fast most years.

  4. That does look awesome! NH is a bit far for me, but definitely noting that one…maybe someday. 🙂

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