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The Boston Marathon is essentially the Super Bowl of the running world. Every long-distance runner dreams of toeing the line in Hopkinton to experience the oldest marathon course in the U.S. and one of the most dignified races in the world. But on top of just being a bucket-list race, the Boston Marathon is an all-time favorite for several other reasons: It presents a challenging course (Heartbreak Hill, anyone?), draws tons of spectators, and over the last several years has squished the gender gap to a near 50/50 split. (Here's Everything You Need to Know About the Boston Marathon)
What's more, the U.S. is the leading country with the most gender-equal marathon participation (whoop!), with women representing 45 percent of marathon runners, according to a new study by RunnerClick, which looked at data on recreational runners from 2014 to 2017. (For perspective, women make up 41 percent of the marathon runners in Canada, 35 percent in the U.K., 18 percent in Thailand, and 10 percent in Greece.)
Compared to other major marathons across the world, the Boston Marathon, in particular, has seriously strong girl-power. Since 2014, 45 percent of people who've run the incredibly competitive marathon were women, according to the study. This is pretty badass, considering the race is 123 years old (!!), but women were only officially allowed to start racing it in 1971. (By comparison, in 2018, the New York City Marathon was made up of 41 percent female runners.)
Elite female runners are owning their space at the 2019 Boston Marathon starting line too: Seven out of the 17 runners who make up the U.S. Elite Open Team this year will be women, including fan-favorite Des Linden, who became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 30 years just last year. (Related: Shalane Flanagan Says Her Dream of Winning the Boston Marathon Changed to Just Surviving It)
The elite women have also held some pretty speedy finishing times over the past four years as well. With the fastest female recreational runners crossing the finish line between 2:45:17 and 2:45:31, the Boston Marathon has the fastest run times out of the 784 marathons included in the study. (Related: What Signing Up for the Boston Marathon Taught Me About Goal-Setting)
It goes without saying that the Boston Marathon has come a long way since Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run it (albeit, against the rules) in 1967. You can add #equality to the list of reasons to get excited for Marathon Monday.
Next year's PR goal: To move the needle to 50 percent.