The Everyman: 5 Types Of Marathon Runners

The starting line at a marathon is a sea of various groups of runners. Photo: Competitor.com

Where do you fall on our unofficial list?

In any marathon, there’s seemingly a small group of elite runners who finish the race in a shade over 2 hours, and then there’s the rest of us. Here’s a look at the five groups of runners that make up typical marathon fields.

The Elites

These guys and girls are the professional runners, many of whom don’t have to sit at a computer all day and work. Running is their job. When we’re putting in the time at the office, these folks are out running. And when we’re on our way home from work, they’re probably out running again. They start the race before everyone else and rule the day.

Elite Age-Groupers

This group tries to hang with the fast crew (see above) for as long as possible. They generally work a full- or part-time job, and running comes second in most cases. They’re able to pound out 6-minute miles on a consistent basis over long distances and are usually the ones who dip under that pace and win the local Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. The main difference between this group and the elites? Most of these guys have to buy their own running gear!

The Top-Thirders

For lack of a better term, the top-thirders finish in, you guessed it, the top third overall. They run faster than the average time, which at the recent New York City Marathon was 4:28. These folks usually have one thing on their minds: Qualifying for the Boston Marathon. They’ll do anything to earn that BQ, including giving away their first-born son, and are in all likelihood hooked up to gadgets like GPS watches, heart-rate monitors and the like.

Middle-Of-The-Packers

This is what The Everyman calls the 4- to 5-hour crowd. They’re dressed in a mix of t-shirts, tech shirts and sometimes no shirts at all. They’re the average Americans doing something great, in this case running 26.2 miles. It could be their first marathon or their 15th. They make up the largest portion of finishers and the finish line corral is overwhelmed with them as they receive a finisher’s medal, a bottle of water and a mylar cape.

The Just-Finishers

This group is usually the last third of marathon finishers. They started their training plan months earlier with one goal: Get to that finish line, no matter how long it takes to get there. Some people run the entire course and finish strong, while others are forced to spend much of the race walking because of pain or an injury. Many, but not all, celebrities (Pamela Anderson, anyone?) fall into this category. In other cases, heartwarming stories like this one emerge from this group.

Where do you fall on this list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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