Running USA

Page Title

2012 State of the Sport – Part III: U.S. Road Race Trends

Running USA
July 25, 2012

Women, men finish in record numbers in U.S. road races, nearly 14 million finishers with a record 55% female and also a new high number of races in 2011; off-road, mud events thriving too

 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – (July 25, 2012) – Over the past 15 years, Running USA has reported on the Second Running Boom, particularly as it relates to U.S. road races, and in 2011, per our data analysis, there were a record 13.9 million road race finishers in this country compared to approximately 5.2 million in 1991 (a 170% increase). This was the eighth consecutive year that a new U.S. finisher high was set. In short, the boom continues, and it is being led by women as U.S. road race finishers, once the province of men 20-30 years ago, are now predominantly female (55% compared to 25% in 1990).

 

There are a myriad of reasons for this historic growth trend in U.S. road races, but community, family-centered, fun events; charity and non-charity training programs and their social impact; access to running information via the internet and the use of technology for registration, timing, websites, email, social media, smart phone apps and more are the main drivers of this boom, particularly for the new runner and women.

 

Another area of the sport that has been booming over the past 5 years has been the off-road, mud, obstacle course type race series such as Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and Muddy Buddy as their finisher numbers have grown from just a blip on the running radar 10 years ago to approximately 1 million as more and more people seek different running experiences beyond the typical road race.

 

The following lists, charts and tables provide an overall summary of U.S. road races, including demographics, in 2011 and also during this Second Running Boom.

 

2011 U.S. Road Running Snapshot:

  • Females now account for 7.6 million finishers nationwide (a record number) and represent the highest percentage ever reported of 55% of event fields. Males in 2011 also set a new high with more than 6.2 million finishers in U.S. road races.
  • The number of U.S. road race finishers have nearly tripled since 1990, and the pendulum has moved from predominantly male representation (75% in 1990) to female representation (55% female in 2011).
  • Total U.S. running events reached 23,000, another all-time record high.
  • The half-marathon continues to fuel the growth of the Second Running Boom, with an annual increase of 16% finishers (1.6 million), and 59% female participation.
  • The 5K kept its #1 position of all road races with 5.2 million finishers in 2011, claiming nearly 38% of all road race finishers in the U.S., while the half-marathon again held the #2 position with 11.5% total U.S. finishers, followed by the 10K (10.1%).

 

Table 1: U.S. Road Race Finishers 1990 – 2011


 

Table 2: Finishers in 2011 U.S. Road Running Events

 

 

 

 

Distance

2011 Totals

% of Total

‘10 – ‘11 Change

5K

5,277,000

37.8%

13%

Half-Marathon

1,610,000

11.5%

16%

10K

1,413,000

10.1%

6%

Marathon

518,000

3.7%

2%

Others

5,156,000

36.9%

1%

TOTAL

13,974,000

 

7%

 

Table 3: # of 2011 U.S. Road Running Events

 

 

 

 

 

 

# of Events

% of Total

 

5K

12,500

54%

 

10K

3,000

13%

 

Half-Marathon

1,500

7%

 

8K/5mile

1,000

4%

 

Marathon

720

3%

 

Others

*4,280

19%

 

TOTAL

23,000

 

 

*Note. Due to an improvement in data reporting, Running USA has adjusted the number of distances reported in the ‘others’ category based on what has been reported in previous years.

SOURCE: Running USA powered by Athlinks

 

Road Race Demographics

Approximately 55% of road race finishers in 2011 were between the ages of 25 to 44 years old (higher percent of females in this age range) with the average age of a timed finisher being 35.8 years. Females in the 25–34 age category, have the highest percent representation of all age categories. The average female road racer continues to be approximately 3 years younger than her male counterpart, and this trend has remained consistent over the past several years.

 

Table 4: Age Group Distribution of U.S. Timed Road Race Finishers 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Age Group

Female

Male

Overall

 

 

 

6-17 yrs

8%

10%

9%

 

 

 

18-24 yrs

10%

8%

9%

 

 

 

25-34 yrs

32%

25%

29%

 

 

 

35-44 yrs

27%

26%

26%

 

 

 

45-54 yrs

16%

19%

18%

 

 

 

55-64 yrs

6%

9%

7%

 

 

 

65+ yrs

1%

3%

2%

 

 

 

                 

 

Table 5: Average Age of Timed Road Race Finishers

 

2011

Timed Road Race Finishers

35.8

Female Timed Road Race Finishers

34.5

Male Timed Road Race Finishers

37.2

 

Per the below, gender distribution, median times, and average age are reported for the 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon in 2011.

Table 6: Road Race Demographics of Timed Finishers in 2011

 

 

 

WOMEN

MEN

 

 

 

5K

57%

43%

Median Time

34:09

28:05

Average Age

32.7

34.0

 

 

 

10K

54%

46%

Median Time

1:04:35

55:50

Average Age

35.0

37.6

 

 

 

Half-Marathon

59%

41%

Median Time

2:19:30

2:01:02

Average Age

35.2

38.1

 

 

 

Marathon

41%

59%

Median Time

4:40:53

4:15:54

Average Age

36.0

39.6

 

SOURCE: Running USA powered by Athlinks

 

The next Running USA State of the Sport report will feature the largest race lists nationwide for 2011, including Top 100 Timed, World’s Largest, Largest Festivals, Largest by State, Largest Women’s and Largest Youth Runs.

 

SOURCE

Running USA = Running USA advances the growth and success of the running industry in America. 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. For other questions about running trends and demographics, contact ryan@runningusa.org or tracy@runningusa.org

 

#          #          #

Annual Reports

Discuss: 2012 State of the Sport – Part III: U.S. Road Race Trends

Leave a Response
Available characters remaining:

Valued Partners :