COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – (February 26, 2012) – Over the past decade, marathons in the U.S. and worldwide have been part of the Second Running Boom’s unprecedented upward trend line, and per Running USA research and data, 2011 was another year of growth in U.S. marathons with an estimated record 518,000 finishers or a 2.2% increase from 2010, a modest increase compared to recent years (9.9% in 2009 and 8.6% in 2010). See U.S. marathon finisher table further below.

Part of the slowing growth for the 26.2 mile distance may be attributed to the explosive growth of the half-marathon over the past 5 years in the U.S. as runners either have moved down from their first or second marathon to the half-marathon or see the half-marathon as a more manageable, but as challenging distance for their time and aspirations. In addition, a majority of large marathons have entrant caps which – due to the Rule of Large Numbers – will impact the overall percent growth, particularly if non-capped and debut marathons don’t attract a larger number of entrants compared to past years.

The following tables and lists provide a summary of the demographics and interesting statistics and trends for U.S. marathons. Per the tables below, U.S. marathon demographics – gender, age group, median age and median time – have remained static in recent years.

TABLE 1

Gender, Age, and Median Times 1980 1995 2000 2005 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Women 10% 26% 38% 41% 40% 41% 41% 41% 41%
Men 90% 74% 62% 59% 60% 59% 59% 59% 59%
Masters (40 yrs+) 26% 41% 44% 44% 46% 45% 46% 46% 46%
Open (20 to 39 yrs) 69% 57% 54% 54% 52% 53% 52% 52% 52%
Juniors (under 20) 5% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2%
           
             
2011 Age Distribution Female Male
6-17 yrs 1% 1%
18-24 yrs 9% 6%
25-34 yrs 35% 25%
35-44 yrs 31% 32%
45-54 yrs 18% 24%
55-64 yrs 5% 10%
65+ yrs 1% 2%
     
     
Median Age 1980 1995 2000 2005 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 (2011 Mean)
Males 34 38 38 40 40 39 40 40 40 (39.9 yrs)
Females 31 35 35 35 36 35 35 35 35 (36.2 yrs)
Overall     37 38 38 38 36 37 37 (38.4 yrs)
                     
                   
Median Times for U.S. Marathon Finishers 1980 1995 2002 2005 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Males 3:32:17 3:54:00 4:20:01 4:20:29 4:20:04 4:20:04 4:13:54 4:16:14 4:16:34
Females 4:03:39 4:15:00 4:56:46 4:51:19 4:49:48 4:43:31 4:41:29 4:42:10 4:42:15
 

2011 Marathon Snapshot
In the U.S., there was a 1% increase in finishers from the same 367 marathons for 2010 and 2011 (495,135 vs. 500,206). Since 2000, there has been a 47% increase in the number of U.S. marathon finishers (353,000 vs. 518,000).

In 2011, there were an estimated 720 U.S. marathons, a record high, compared to approximately 200 in 1985 and 300 marathons in 2000.

Year Estimated U.S. Marathon Finisher Total

1976 25,000
1980 143,000
1990 224,000
1995 293,000
2000 353,000
2004 386,000
2005 395,000
2006 410,000
2007 412,000
2008 425,000
2009 467,000
2010 507,000
2011 518,000 (new high)

National Runner Survey
In 2011, Running USA surveyed more than 11,800 core runners nationwide and reported that those who had completed a marathon in the last two years ran approximately 4.4 days per week for an average of 29.4 miles. They also purchased approximately 4 pairs of running shoes and 83% had spent $100 or more on running apparel in the last 12 months.

U.S. marathons with more than 1,000 finishers, another record
Last year, there were a record 94 U.S. marathons reporting greater than 1,000 finishers, compared with 89 in 2010, the previous record. Since 1999, the number of U.S. marathons with more than 1,000 finishers in a single year has increased 109% (45 in 1999 vs. 94 in 2011).

With 4,741 finishers, Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah was the largest inaugural marathon in the U.S. for the year and the largest one since 2007. Overall, there were at least 31 debut U.S. marathons and two had more than 1,000 finishers (also Kalamazoo with 1,196). Over the past decade, the United States has averaged more than 26 inaugural marathons per year.

TABLE 2

2011 U.S. Marathons (>1,000 finishers) with the...

…Fastest Median Times 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Boston 3:48:40 3:46:13 3:44:04 3:44:17 3:44:58
Eugene         3:59:17
Lincoln National Guard         4:01:44
Wineglass       3:59:32 4:04:05
Steamtown 4:03:05 3:56:13 3:55:48 3:55:41 4:05:27
           
           
…Slowest Median Times 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Bataan Memorial March 7:38:57 7:47:50 7:37:50 7:29:29 7:27:31
Honolulu 5:50:11 5:49:00 5:44:46 5:50:52 5:46:35
Honda LA 5:36:57 5:31:57 5:23:30 5:17:29 5:06:41
Nike Women’s     5:10:39 4:59:35 5:04:47
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio         5:02:59
             
             
…Most <4 Hour Finishers 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Boston 12,996 (64%) 14,547 (66%) 15,691 (69%) 15,424 (68%) 16,211 (68%)
ING New York City 11,959 (31%) 13,106 (35%) 15,275 (35%) 14,724 (33%) 15,166 (33%)
Bank of America Chicago 3,643 (14%) 6,382 (21%) 11,226 (33%) 8,294 (23%) 8,743 (24%)
Marine Corps     4,771 (22%) 4,622 (21%) 4,565 (22%)
Philadelphia 3,149 (47%) 3,193 (44%) 3,221 (46%) 3,891 (43%) 4,046 (39%)
       
         
…Most >6 Hour Finishers 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Honolulu 9,450 (45%) 8,761 (44%) 7,788 (38%) 8,155 (40%) 7,621 (40%)
Honda LA 7,881 (39%) 6,420 (37%) 4,373 (31%) 6,313 (28%) 5,069 (26%)
Bank of America Chicago       3,465 (10%) 2,936 (8%)
Walt Disney World 2,572 (23%) 3,217 (25%) 3,165 (21%) 4,044 (24%) 2,761 (20%)
ING New York City     2,194 (5%) 2,490 (6%) 2,524 (5%)
…Most Finishers in Age Groups EVENT 2011 Subtotals  
Female Juniors Honolulu 1,124
Male Juniors Honda LA 1,537
Females 20-29 Bank of America Chicago 5,037
Males 20-29 Bank of America Chicago 4,158
Females 30-39 ING New York City 5,889
Males 30-39 ING New York City 8,773
Females 40-49 ING New York City 5,076
Males 40-49 ING New York City 10,392
Females 50-59 ING New York City 2,013
Males 50-59 ING New York City 5,479
Females 60+ Honolulu 762
Males 60+ Honolulu 1,725
     
Overall 40+ ING New York City 25,004
Overall 50+ ING New York City 9,536
Overall 60+ Honolulu 2,487
…Highest Percent Women* 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Nike Women’s 93% 93% 93% 91% 92%
Portland 54% 52% 53% 56% 53%
Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah         52%
       
         
…Highest Percent Men* 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
United States Air Force     74% 71% 70%
San Francisco         67%
GO! St. Louis         66%
         
         
…Highest Percent Masters (40 + yrs)* 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Boston 55% 56% 56% 56% 58%
Steamtown 57% 56% 55% 56% 56%
ING New York     52% 53% 54%

*Based upon events with >1,000 finishers in each representative category.

New York City largest ever – again; record 16 marathons had more than 15,000 finishers in 2011
The 2011 ING New York City Marathon was the largest marathon ever with 47,133 finishers and the flagship event has held the #1 title as the world’s largest marathon since 2003. For only the second time (also 2010), six marathons – New York City, Chicago, London, Berlin, Tokyo and Paris – had more than 30,000 finishers in the same year, and for the first time, 16 marathons had more than 15,000 finishers. In addition, the U.S. had 6 of the 15 largest marathons in the world.

Last year, Japan had two inaugural marathons, Osaka and Kobe, with more than 20,000 finishers, and with 26,175 finishers, Osaka was the largest debut marathon ever (previous record, 15,771 finishers at the 1998 Suzuki Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego).

In 2011, there were a record 11 U.S. marathons that had more than 8,000 finishers, while 26 U.S. marathons had more than 4,000 finishers – tied record set in 2009 and 2010. See rankings below.

2011
World’s Largest Marathons (finishers):

1) ING New York City, NY 47,133 (largest all-time)
2) Bank of America Chicago, IL 35,755
3) Virgin London, GBR 35,126
4) BMW Berlin, GER 32,816
5) Tokyo Int’l, JPN 32,395
6) Paris, FRA 31,133
7) Osaka, JPN 26,175 (largest inaugural)
8) Boston, MA 23,913
9) Marine Corps, DC 21,042
10) Kobe, JPN 20,103 (second largest inaugural)
11) Honda LA, CA 19,902
12) Honolulu, HI 19,102
13) Naha, JPN 17,060
14) ASICS Stockholm, SWE 15,470
15) Shonan Int’l, JPN 15,278

 

U.S. Largest Marathons (finishers):

1) ING New York City, NY 47,133 (largest all-time)
2) Bank of America Chicago, IL 35,755
3) Boston, MA 23,913
4) Marine Corps, DC 21,042
5) Honda LA, CA 19,902
6) Honolulu, HI 19,102
7) Walt Disney World, FL 13,551
8) Philadelphia, PA 10,267
9) Medtronic Twin Cities, MN   8,534
10) Portland, OR   8,461
11) Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, CA   8,290
12) Chevron Houston, TX   6,919
13) Grandma’s, MN   6,337
14) Nike Women’s, CA   6,108
15) San Francisco, CA   5,989

SOURCE: Running USA with Athlinks (2009–11) and Active.com (2005–08)

Contact: Ryan Lamppa, (805) 966-7747 or ryan@runningusa.org