2014 State of the Sport – Part IV: Largest Road Races

Running USA
August 27, 2014

Participation in the nation’s largest road races grows 77 percent over 14 years, quantifying running’s exponential growth as a recreational sport and fitness regimen


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – (August 27, 2014) – The tremendous growth in the popularity of competitive distance running for fitness and health over the last 14 years is further illustrated by the results of Running USA’s latest State of the Sport Report.

A comprehensive analysis of finisher totals at the nation’s Largest Road Races, the report analyzes available finisher data for 2013. Fueled by the tremendous popularity of the half-marathon distance, the data shows that participation in the nation’s 100 largest timed road races grew 77 percent over 14 years, quantifying running’s exponential growth as a recreational sport and fitness regimen.

“This year’s Largest Road Race totals are no surprise to those who have followed the Second Running Boom since its early days,” said Rich Harshbarger, Running USA CEO. “Each year, more Americans are inspired to take up running for health and wellness, and they have a wide selection of exciting race events to choose from.”

The number of U.S. race finishers has increased nearly 300% since 1990, and female representation has grown from just 25% to an all-time high of 57% in 2013, according to Part III of the State of the Sport series.

Each year, Running USA releases rankings for the nation’s top road races including such popular lists as the Top 100 U.S. Timed, Largest by Distance, Largest by State, Largest Festivals, Women-Only and Youth Runs as well as the World’s Largest. Data is sourced from Athlinks. These lists are cited by the media, used by the races and perused by running fans around the world.


Top 100 U.S. Timed – In 2013, the Top 100 U.S. Timed list accounted for more than 1.6 million finishers compared to 922,500 finishers in 2000 or an impressive 77% increase. In 2000 the 100th race on the U.S. list had more than 3,600 finishers and by 2013 that number had grown to more than 8,500.


In 2003, half-marathons represented 17 of the races listed in the Top 100, and last year, the 13.1 mile distance accounted for an astonishing 42 races listed in the Top 100 with over 592,000 finishers, or accounting for 36% of all finishers in the Top 100 list. Since 2003, the half-marathon has been the fastest growing distance in the U.S., with women – 61% of fields now – driving its growth. See Top 100 Table 1 below.


Table 1: Top 100 U.S. Timed Road Races (2000 vs. 2013)



















































SOURCE: Running USA powered by Athlinks



Largest by Distance – Table 2 below lists the U.S. largest races by distance for 2013. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race 10K (55,850), ING New York City Marathon (50,266), Lilac Bloomsday Run 12K (46,915) and the BolderBOULDER 10K (43,400) continue to rank as the largest timed road races in the nation, and Peachtree (pictured, above) kept its #1 U.S. timed ranking for the 5th straight year.


In 2013, there were two U.S. 15K’s that had more than 11,000 finishers: Gate River Run (15,570) and Boilermaker (11,370). The 10 mile also claimed four races with 10,000-plus finishers: Blue Cross Broad Street Run (32,075), Army Ten-Miler (25,969), Credit Union Cherry Blossom (17,532) and Fleet Feet Sports Soldier Field (12,540), but the Half-Marathon continues to lead the pack with 34 events having more than 10,000 finishers in 2013.


For a complete list of rankings by distance, go to: www.runningusa.org/largest-races


Table 2: Largest by Distance (2013)

1 Mile               5,182                NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile (New York, NY)

2 Mile               5,828                Festival Foods Turkey Trot (Madison, WI)

5K                    24,871              Hot Chocolate Chicago (Chicago, IL)

3.5 Mile             18,880              JPMorgan Corporate Challenge: Chicago (Chicago, IL)

4 Mile               23,315              Pat’s Run 4.2 Mile (Tempe, AZ)

8K                    33,257              Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle (Chicago, IL)

5 Mile               15,900E            ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot (4,529 timed) (Austin, TX)

10K                  55,850              Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race (Atlanta, GA)

7 Mile               10,921              New Balance Falmouth Road Race (Falmouth, MA)

12K                  46,915              Lilac Bloomsday Run (Spokane, WA)

15K                  15,570              Gate River Run (Jacksonville, FL)

10 Mile              32,075              Blue Cross Broad Street Run (Philadelphia, PA)

20K                    7,108              Dam to Dam (Des Moines, IA)

Half-Marathon   30,059              OneAmerica 500 Festival (Indianapolis, IN)

25K                    5,377              Fifth Third River Bank Run (Grand Rapids, MI)

30K                    5,102              ING New York City Marathon Tune-Up 18 Mile (New York, NY)

Marathon          50,266              ING New York City Marathon (New York, NY)

Ultra                      858              JFK 50 Mile Trail (Boonsboro, MD)

Relay                15,995              Ragnar Wasatch Back 188 Mile (Park City, UT)


E = estimate not all finishers timed


SOURCE: Running USA powered by Athlinks



Largest by State – The ING New York City Marathon ranked New York as #1 on the map for the largest festival event last year, but other states have stand-alone large events or festivals also topping the list such as Florida (Walt Disney World Marathon Festival – 56,176 estimated finishers), Georgia (Atlanta-Journal Constitution Peachtree Road Race 10K – 55,850), Washington (Lilac Bloomsday 12K – 46,915), and Colorado (BolderBOULDER 10K – 43,400).


Largest Festivals – Festivals continue to experience tremendous growth during the Second Running Boom. For example, in 2009 the Top 50 U.S. festivals totaled approximately 1.5 million finishers, whereas by 2013, the number had increased to 1.65 million. In addition, in 2000 the 50th largest festival had approximately 12,000 finishers and by 2013 the 50th festival on the list had more than 20,000 finishers.


Table 3: Top 10 Largest Festivals (2013)

1)   New York                            58,444              ING New York City Marathon Festival

2)   Florida                                56,176              Walt Disney World Marathon Festival

3)   Georgia                               55,850              Atlanta-Journal Constitution Peachtree Festival

4)   Washington                         46,915              Lilac Bloomsday 12K

5)   Colorado                             43,400              Dick’s Sporting Goods BolderBOULDER 10K

6)   Illinois                                 38,879              Bank of America Chicago Marathon

7)   Illinois                                 37,207              Hot Chocolate Chicago Festival

8)   D.C.                                    34,473              Maine Corps Marathon Festival

9)   Indiana                                33,974              OneAmerica 500 Festival mini-Marathon Festival

10) Virginia                                33,836              Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K and Kids Run


SOURCE: Running USA powered by Athlinks



Women-Only – As reported in previous State of the Sport Reports, females now account for 10.8 million finishers nationwide (a record number) and represent the highest event total field percentage ever reported of 57% in this country. Of the largest women-only races (90% or greater female finishers), seven of the top 15 were half-marathons in 2013, a record high for this race distance. In 2013, there were 26 women-only events with greater than 2,000 finishers, a slight decrease from 2012.


World’s Largest –  Sydney, Australia’s Sun-Herald City2Surf 14K, with 69,297 finishers – its largest to-date, kept its #1 timed road race crown for a record 6th consecutive year. For the second time in history, there were two half-marathons worldwide with more than 40,000 finishers in the same year (Göteborg and Bupa Great North Run with 45,126 and 40,763 finishers respectively, with the former the largest annual half-marathon ever).



Largest Youth Events – With the majority of road race events now incorporating a youth component, youth runs across the nation continue to experience growth. “Final mile” programs at many of the nation’s largest marathons invite kids to complete a marathon distance run over time and join the crowds on race day for the excitement of crossing the finish line. While many youth events continue to be untimed fun runs, making tracking difficult, Running USA estimates that there were more than 32 youth events in 2013 that surpassed 2,000 youth finishers at a single event.


To see where your favorite road races ranked in 2013 or what the #1 race is per the different largest race categories, go to: www.runningusa.org/largest-races



Running USA = Running USA advances the growth and success of the running industry. State of the Sport reports, many types of running data and lists of the largest races from past years can be found on RunningUSA.org in the “Statistics” section. Running USA statistics are powered by Athlinks.


For other questions about running trends and demographics, contact Tracy Yoder at tracy@runningusa.org For media interviews and other running inquiries, contact Rich Harshbarger at rich@runningusa.org


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