The half marathon, apparently, is the new black. Or the new obstacle race. Whatever it is, it's the very latest, according to industry research.
Last year, for the first time in history, the half marathon distance surpassed two million finishers in the United States, according to the 2014 Running USA Annual Half Marathon Report. The number of U.S. finishers grew from 1,960,000 in 2013 to 2,046,600 in 2014.
Since 2003, per Running USA State of the Sport Reports, the half marathon has been the fastest growing standard distance, growing over 40% since 2010 (1,385,000 in 2010 to 2,046,600 in 2014). As reported in the organization’s National Runner Survey, half marathons are the most favored distance.
Gender split was 61% females (a record 1.2 million finishers) and 39% males (another record over 790,000 finishers). Average times though were the slowest on record, 2:02:55 for males and 2:21:22 for females.
In 2014, there were 32 half marathons with 10,000 or more finishers (third highest total ever), slightly down from 34 in 2013. This data point has nearly doubled since 2009 when there were 17 with 10,000-plus finishers, and in 2000, there was only one.
For the year, there were a total of 40 half marathons that make up the Top 100 U.S. timed road race list with 11 of them from the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series.
According to Running USA's 2015 National Runner Survey, the half marathon distance is the favorite race distance by core runners nationwide (preferred 39% by men and 43% by women).
Last year, there were more than 2,200 active U.S. half marathons (final road race numbers to be released in an upcoming State of the Sport Report). This is up from over 2,100 in 2013.
Tables and lists found here display the demographics and astounding growth of the half marathon over recent years.
SOURCE: Running USA with Athlinks (2009-14) and Active.com (2005-08)
For previous Annual Marathon Reports (2012-13) click HERE