Study Shows Runners Gravitating Toward Longer Distances

Photo: Donn Jones

Running USA released interesting details on U.S. race finishers in 2014, showing evolving trends among a sport that’s as healthy as ever from a participation standpoint.

The sport grew 300 percent from 1990 to 2013, and that number stayed flat in 2014. In all, there were 18.75 million finishers in U.S. running events in 2014, down slightly from 19 million in 2013.

Even more intriguing is how those finishers are distributed by distance. Running USA points out that while 5K finishers stayed flat year over year in 2014, half marathon finishers grew by 4 percent and marathon finishers grew by 2 percent. Finishers of 10Ks declined by 5 percent year over year, while races of distances other than the traditional 5K-10K-half marathon-marathon also declined in participation by 4 percent.

Running USA broke it down even further, providing some interesting insight on each of the race distances.

5K

In all, there were 8.3 million finishers of 5Ks in 2014, spread out over 15,100 events. That makes up 44 percent of all running event finishers in the U.S.

How do those finishers break down? They are 58 percent female (an average age of 36.6) and 42 percent male (with an average age of 39.4).

For women, the average finishing time was 33:43. For men, it was 29:47.

10K

The 10K distance is getting lost in the shuffle between the booming popularity of both the 5K and the half marathon. There were 3,700 10Ks in the U.S. in 2014 that netted 1.4 million finishers.

The 10K finishers are 59 percent female and 41 percent male.

Average times? For females, it’s 1:06:22. For males, it’s 57:03.

Half Marathon

The 13.1-mile distance continues to be a popular choice among Americans. There were 2,500 half marathons in the U.S. in 2014 that netted 2.046 million finishers—11 percent of all running event finishers were in the half marathon.

Half marathons are skewed toward female participation more than any other distance—61 percent female compared to 39 percent male. The average finishing times were 2:21:22 for females and 2:02:55 for males.

Marathon

The marathon distance had 550,600 finishers spread out over 1,100 events in the U.S. in 2014. That represents just 3 percent of all running event finishers.

This is the one distance that skews more male. Of all the finishers, 57 percent were male and just 43 percent were female. The average finishing time was 4:19:27 for males and 4:44:18 for females. The average age was 36 for females and 40 for males.

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