Number of races held also increases.
The marathon was more popular than ever in the United States in 2013, according to Running USA’s annual marathon report.
There was an all-time high of 541,000 marathon finishers in 2013, 43 percent of them women, according to the report. (One runner can account for more than one of the 541,000 finishes).
Those numbers are up dramatically from 2012, when the cancelation of the New York City Marathon had a significant impact on the totals. Without as many as 47,000 runners at New York, 487,000 runners finished marathons in 2012.
By comparison, 518,000 completed a marathon in 2011, which was up nearly 11,000 from 2010.
The number of finishers in 2013 was impacted by a pair of weather-related race cancelations (the MetroPCS Dallas White Rock Marathon and the St. Jude Memphis Marathon) and the bombings at the Boston Marathon, which prevented 5,633 runners from completing the race. Boston and the two canceled marathons knocked an estimated 13,000 runners from the 2013 total. The New York City Marathon, which became the first marathon with over 50,000 finishers (50,266), helped push the number of finishers in 2013 to an all-time high.
The number of women finishing marathons has steadily increased since 1980 when 10 percent of marathon finishers were women. That number rose to 26 percent in 1995, 38 percent in 2000 and 41 percent in 2005. In 2012, 42 percent of marathon finishers were women.
There were also a record number of marathons held in the United States in 2013, with more than 1,100 marathons taking place. Of those, 92 had at least 1,000 finishers, the third most ever in a year with that many finishers (the record is 94 in 2011 and 2012). The BMO Harris Bank Phoenix Marathon (1,434) and the Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon (1,079) were two inaugural U.S. marathons with more than 1,000 finishers.
After a steady decline in the median finish times for U.S. marathons in the late 1990s, marathon runners are getting faster. In 1980, the median finish time for male marathoners was 3:32:17 and for women it was 4:03:39. Those numbers jumped as high as 4:20:29 for men in 2005 and 4:56:46 for women in 2002. The number dropped to a low of 4:16:14 for men in 2010 and 4:41:38 for women in 2013. The men’s median time in 2013 was 4:16:24.
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source: Runners World By Scott Martin