2014 Annual Report for US Marathons

Race Navigator. February 1st, 2015
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Welcome to the inaugural edition of Race Navigator’s annual Marathon Report. We’ve collected the participant data from over 1,200 U.S. marathons and would love to share it with the running community. We also created a fun info-graphic (see image below) which can easily be shared with your friends on social media. Thanks for checking out this article, and we hope you enjoy it!

2014 US Marathon Info-graphic

2014 Overview

Another great year is on the books as 2014 wrapped up its marathon racing season with a record breaking 570,000 participants. That number is up 5.4% from 2013, and up almost 50% from just 10 years ago. There were 92 new marathons added in 2014, which undoubtedly helped with this increase, and will hopefully continue the trend to 2015 and beyond.

There was another marathon record set in 2014 as Dennis Kimetto finished the Berlin Marathon in a record time of 2:02:57, which beat last year's record by 26 seconds. To put that finish time into perspective, it equates to a blazing pace of 4:42 minutes/mile.

Top 10 USA Marathons

The New York City Marathon and Chicago Marathon retained their previous year’s ranking as the top marathons in the United States. And the Boston Marathon climbed back into the #3 position after the tragic terror incident in 2013 dropped it down to #7.

Marathon 2014
New York City Marathon 50,400 1 1
Chicago Marathon 40,600 2 2
Boston Marathon 31,900 3 7
Honolulu Marathon 21,800 4 4
L.A. Marathon 21,500 5 6
Marine Corps Marathon 21,500 6 3
Walt Disney World Marathon 19,200 7 5
Philadelphia Marathon 10,400 8 8
Twin Cities Marathon 8,900 9 9
Houston Marathon 7,000 10 12


Fun Facts

A total of 14.9 million miles were logged in marathon races during the 2014 season. That distance would equate to running around the earth 600 times! And if you think that's impressive, the total distance logged while training comes out to 320 million miles. That equals 12,865 times around the earth, or 670 trips to the moon and back!


Finishing Times

2014 US Marathon Finish Times

The average finishing time in 2014 was 4:42, which is an increase of 6 seconds from 2013.  That increase is actually quite substantial when you consider that the average has remained fairly flat over the past five years (see table below).

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Men 4:26 4:24 4:27 4:27 4:31
Women 4:53 4:51 4:54 4:54 4:56
Overall 4:36 4:34 4:37 4:37 4:42


Fastest/Slowest Marathons

With an average finish time of 3:32, the inaugural 'Last Chance for Boston BQ.2 Marathon' in Grand Rapids, MI, grabbed the #1 rank in the Fastest Marathon category. Its sister race in Chicagoland, IL, took the #2 position with an average time of 3:34. Meanwhile, the Megatransect Marathon easily took the #1 rank in the Slowest Marathon category with an average finish time of 9:33.

Fastest Marathon Times:   Slowest Marathon Times:
Marathon Avg. Time   Marathon Avg. Time
Last Chance BQ.2 - Grand Rapids    3:32   Megatransect Marathon 9:33
Last Chance BQ.2 - Chicagoland 3:34   Call of the Wilds Mountain Marathon    8:41
LOCO Marathon 3:42   Bataan Memorial Death March 8:10
Erie Marathon at Presque Isle 3:57   Wickham Park Marathon 7:27
Sugarloaf Marathon 3:55   Pikes Peak Marathon 7:16


Age Distribution

2014 US Marathon Age Distribution

The average age of marathon runners has hovered near 40 years old for the past five years, and 2014 brings no surprises coming in at 39.

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Men 40 40 40 40 41
Women 37 37 37 37 37
Overall 39 39 39 39 39


Marathons with Oldest/Youngest Participants

The Mainly Marathon race series holds the #1 position for having the oldest marathon participants, coming in with an average age of 58.  On the other end of the spectrum, the Eau Claire Marathon in Wisconsin had the youngest average age coming in at 29.

Oldest Participants:   Youngest Participants:
Marathon Avg. Age   Marathon Avg. Age
Mainly Marathon Series 58   Eau Claire Marathon 29
Frank Maier Marathon 55   Teton DAM Marathon 32
E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon   51   Bataan Memorial Death March   33
San Miguel Buzz Marathon 50   Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon 33
New England Marathon Series 50   Durango Marathon 34


Gender Distribution

2014 US Marathon Gender Distribution

Women continued to increase their participation rate by gaining another full percentage point on men. Will the trend continue in 2015? – only time will tell. Until then, men still outnumbered women by having a final gender spilt in 2014 coming in at 56% (Men) / 44% (Women).

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Men 59% 59% 58% 57% 56%
Women 41% 41% 42% 43% 44%


Top Men / Women Marathons

Single? Looking to increase the odds? -- Pay attention because these races are for you. The Winter Trail Marathon in Indiana had the highest percentage of male runners (86% of 35 participants), while the Leading Ladies Marathon in South Dakota had the highest percentage of female runners (100% of 125 participants). If you can’t make it to either of those races this year, check out the top 5 races for men and women where you can lace up, dress to impress, and hopefully run into your match!

Highest % of Male Runners:   Highest % of Female Runners:
Marathon Percent   Marathon Percent
Winter Trail Marathon 86%   Leading Ladies Marathon 100%
XTERRA Marathon Of Trail Races 83%   Kenai River Marathon 70%
Rock/Creek Scenic City Marathon   83%   Ghost of Tacoma City Marathon   67%
Ellerbe Springs Marathon 81%   Running with the Bears 64%
The Dam Full Marathon 80%   Dog Lake Marathon 62%


For a more light-hearted look at the gender divide, take a look at our Battle of the Sexes marathon report. It has another fun info-graphic which is great for sharing on social media, and we also dive into more detail including Boston & NYC qualifying time comparisons. Check it out!


Marathon Seasonality

2014 US Marathon Seasonaltiy

The graph to the right illustrates the number of monthly finishers overlaid with the number of actual races in the respective month.

October clearly leads the pack for having the highest number of monthly finishers. This should be no surprise since four of the top 10 marathons are held in that month (Chicago Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon, and Portland Marathon). November comes in second with the New York City Marathon pulling half of the month’s total with 50,000 participants. July and August host the least number of both monthly finishers and actual races. The hot weather during those months is unfavorable to most marathoners and race directors have taken note.

The obvious outlier in this chart is in the month of September. It was the 5th lowest in terms of finishers, yet was #1 in terms of most races. We’ve found that this is mostly due to many of the smaller marathons choosing not to directly compete with the larger marathons in October and November. Also, some of these races are used as ‘tune-up’ races for ultra-marathon events held later in the fall.


Boston Qualifiers & NYC Qualifiers

Every year, tens of thousands of marathon participants aim for the coveted Boston and NYC qualifying times. Below you'll find a list of the top qualifying marathons both in terms of overall qualifying percentage, and total qualifying finishers.

Top Boston Qualifiers By Percent:   Top Boston Qualifiers By Finishers:
Marathon Qualifying
  Marathon Qualifying
Last Chance BQ.2 Marathon 61.4%   Boston Marathon 11061
LOCO Marathon 40.9%   Chicago Marathon 4004
Boston Marathon 34.8%   New York City Marathon 3632
Erie Marathon 33.2%   Philadelphia Marathon 1341
Peak to Creek Marathon 28.6%   California International Marathon    1294
Pocono Mountains Marathon       28.6%   Grandma's Marathon 1109
Sugarloaf Marathon 26.7%   Twin Cities Marathon 1047
Tunnel Lite Marathon 26.4%   St. George Marathon 997
Fall Classic Marathon 26.0%   Marine Corps Marathon 717
Manchester City Marathon 25.2%   Houston Marathon 698


Top NYC Qualifiers By Percent:   Top NYC Qualifiers By Finishers:
Marathon Qualifying
  Marathon Qualifying
Manchester City Marathon 7.87%   Boston Marathon 2191
California International Marathon 6.95%   Chicago Marathon 851
LOCO Marathon 6.92%   New York City Marathon 742
Boston Marathon 6.89%   California International Marathon 405
Leading Ladies Marathon 5.74%   Grandma's Marathon 270
Mohawk Hudson River Marathon 5.13%   Philadelphia Marathon 238
Tunnel Lite Marathon 4.86%   Twin Cities Marathon 230
Fall Classic Marathon 4.62%   St. George Marathon 207
Pocono Mountains Marathon 4.49%   Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 131
Mill Race Marathon 4.35%   Houston Marathon 119


* Lists only include races with 100 or more finishers.