What Running a Marathon Looks Like Around the World

From the fastest and slowest countries to the nation with the most female runners, see the surprising stats from this worldwide study of marathon runners

Corbis Images.

Whether or not running 26.2 miles is your definition of a good time, a new report-the largest analysis of marathon results in history-reveals some pretty fascinating worldwide trends about the sport.

In the study, conducted by RunRepeat.com, researchers looked at over two million marathon results from recreational runners (i.e. no elite runners) from 2009 to 2014, at the following marathons: Chicago, Marine Corps, Boston, London, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Athens, Amsterdam, Budapest, Warszawa, and Madrid. They then compared performance across nations and found some surprising stats.

With an average finish time of 3 hours 55 minutes, Spain is the world's fastest marathon nation, followed by Portugal at 3:59, Luxembourg at 4:00, and Iceland at 4:01. The slowest nations were the Philippines at 5:05, India at 5:03, and Japan at 4:40.

How did the U.S. fare? Well, with an average finish time of 4:29, we came in at a lackluster 39th out of the 47 nations included, making us the slowest nation in Northern and Southern America. Luckily, what we lack in speed we make up for in another important area: gender equality.

Forty-five percent of American marathon participants were female, making the U.S. the most gender-equal marathon nation, followed closely by Canada and New Zealand at 44 percent. So yes, we're pretty much killin' it! Sadly, no other country topped 40 percent (Spain had the lowest percentage of female runners at just six percent), and, overall, the world average proportion of women in marathon running is less than 30 percent! (For more on the growth of female runners, see What Makes You a Runner?)

The good news is that female marathon participants increased by nearly 27 percent worldwide, and we doubt this is slowing down anytime soon! Overall, the growth in popularity of marathon running was 13 percent (not surprising, considering the difficulty of qualifying for a race like Boston).

Check out more fascinating stats from RunRepeat below!

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