Who is Running Next to You?

During races, I’m usually too tired or too focused to strike up a conversation with the strangers next to me – this is simply not the ideal time for my extroverted personality to exert itself. That said, as I gaze across the crowd and observe runners of all shapes and sizes running next to me, I admire their determination and commitment, regardless of how fast they are running. And if someone 20 years my senior passes me – well, we all know how that feels.

Helping out a stranger, or someone helping you, can possibly make or break your race. But even if you a silent soldier like me, here are a few tidbits you may find interesting.


In 2010, the median age of females was lower than males – 35 versus 40 years old, respectively. Is this older than you may have thought? Maybe we all need a few years to discover ourselves before we learn how to combat the mental and physical challenges of running 26 miles. The age group with largest percentage of runners in marathons was 25-34 for females (36%) and 35-44 (32%) for males.


Were there more male or female finishers in 2010? Sorry gals, the dudes have us on this one. Fifty nine (59) percent of finishers were men, while forty one (41) percent were women.

Average Speed

Again, the boys have us beat. But that’s no surprise, given the Boston qualifying times. Men averaged 4:16:14 and women averaged 4:42:10 last year. So if you broke the four hour barrier, you should give yourself a big pat on the back!

Other Demographics

Most distance runners have a college degree, in fact 79% of us. (While only 27% of the general U.S. population has one.) Distance runners are affluent, too. 73% report a household income of $75,000 or higher. More than 60% of distance runners are married. But does that mean we need a partner to support our habit? No.

Total Number of Finishers

In the United States, we set a record with 507,000 total finishers last year — up from 25,000 in 1976! So you see, we glutens for punishment have company!

Largest marathons

What’s the largest marathon in the world?

“Start spreading the news, I am leaving today, I want to be a part of it, New York, New York….” (And it you haven’t been part of the New York City Marathon, I highly recommend you try!)

The top ten marathons in 2010 in order of finishers are:

1. ING New York City, NY 44,977

2. Virgin London, GB 36,632

3. Bank of America Chicago, IL    36,088

4. real, Berlin, GER                        34,002

5. Paris, FRA                                    30,976

6. Tokyo International, JPN          30,170

7. Boston, MA                                    22,672

8. 25th Honda LA, CA                       22,580

9. Marine Corps, DC                          21,944

10. Honolulu, HI                                20,180

All information in this article was sourced from Running USA, a non-profit organization for the running industry, created to improve the status of road racing in the United States through collective marketing and promotions, services to runners and events and the development of American world class stars.

Melinda Hinson