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!
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.
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.
|New York City Marathon||50,400||1||1|
|Marine Corps Marathon||21,500||6||3|
|Walt Disney World Marathon||19,200||7||5|
|Twin Cities Marathon||8,900||9||9|
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!
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).
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|
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.
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|
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).
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:|
|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!
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.
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:|
|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:|
|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.