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Posted: March 31, 2013  

Athletics: Running USA Annual Half-Marathon Report

Source: Running USA

Half-marathon, the country's most popular distance, again delivers record numbers; Göteborg keeps largest 13.1 mile crown

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - (March 31, 2013) - Over the past decade, the half-marathon has become America's most popular distance by virtually any metric: by finisher growth, by debut half-marathons, by "buzz" and by survey, and the following numbers and tables compiled by Running USA for its annual report further reinforce the 13.1 mile's impact and influence. In short, it is the Usain Bolt of the U.S. road race world.

Last year, U.S. half-marathons had an estimated 1.85 million finishers (a new high), an impressive 14.9% increase from 2011 (1,610,000 to 1,850,000), but lower than the historic 24% rise in both 2009 and 2010. Also, in the same 1,136 U.S. half-marathons for 2011 vs. 2012, there was a 5.1% finisher increase (1,522,637 vs. 1,599,838).

More half-marathon fun facts reflecting its dynamic growth:

  • Since 2003, the half-marathon has been the fastest growing road race distance in the United States, and for seven consecutive years (2006-12), the number of 13.1 mile finishers has grown by 10% or more each year. No other U.S. road distance comes close to this growth rate during the Second Running Boom (circa 1994).
  • Since 2000, the number of half-marathon finishers in this country has nearly quadrupled (482,000 to 1,850,000), an impressive increase of 284%.
  • For the first time in history, 60% of U.S. half-marathon finishers were females (approximately 1,110,000, a record).
  • Although the male U.S. half-marathon percent has declined to 40%, in absolute terms, last year, there were a record 740,000 male finishers in U.S. 13.1 mile races.
  • Also, in 2012, there were a record number of 36 U.S. half-marathons with 10,000 or more finishers. This data point has more than doubled since 2009 when there were 17 with 10,000-plus finishers; in 2000, there was only one.
  • For the year, there were a total of 43 half-marathons that make up the Top 100 U.S. timed road race list for 2012 with 16 of them from the nationwide Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series.
  • Like the past 6 years, there were more than 30 inaugural half-marathons in the U.S. last year and the largest debut half was Rock 'n' Roll Portland (OR) with 11,038 finishers. Overall, there were five debut half-marathons with more than 5,000 finishers (also, Tinkerbell, Rock 'n' Roll St. Pete, Hollywood and Rock 'n' Roll Pasadena), a record (previous record was four in 2010).
  • Last year, there were more than 1,500 active U.S. half-marathons (final road race numbers to be released in an upcoming State of the Sport Report).

According to Running USA's 2013 National Runner Survey, the half-marathon is also the favorite distance to run for both genders (38% men and 43% women) and overwhelmingly, the road race distance that runners (77% overall) are most interested in entering this year (2013), so the half-marathon should maintain its title as the most popular distance in America.


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