The majority of races are run by women these days, plus more fun facts from Running USA studies
Who run the world? Girls! The majority of runners who participated in races in 2014 were women—that’s 10.7 million finishers compared to men’s 8 million—according to new data from Running USA.
The running-focused, not-for-profit organization looks at the industry's and sport’s growth and trends every year and they found that in 2014, female runners dominated every type of race other than full marathons, including 5Ks, 10Ks, and halfs. And the sweet spot for running seems to be between 25 and 44 for both genders, as 53 percent of all finishers were from this age bracket.
What’s more, runners of both genders are more interested in going the distance than ever before. Participation in half-marathons grew the most in 2014, by 4 percent from the year before. In fact, a record number of runners around the world—550,637 people!—finished marathons in 2014. (Not part of this stat yet? 2015's the year! Check out 10 Races Perfect for People Just Beginning Running.)
The only bummer? Another of Running USA’s studies, this one specifically on trends in marathons, found that we are now slower than we were at races 30 years ago. The 2014 marathon averages of 4:19:27 for men and 4:44:19 for women are each more than 40 minutes slower than the averages for each group in 1980.
Luckily, though, these numbers are mostly due to the influx of runners signing up for the long races. Marathons have been growing steadily for the past 38 years straight, and 2014 witnessed 9,000 more people committing to 26.2 miles than the year before.
If these hordes of runners have you rethinking signing up in 2015, don’t worry—while the New York City Marathon did see a record 50,266 people cross the finish line, most of the growth in the race world was from smaller races opening up, boasting only 300 or so finishers, the report says.
As for the slow times, not all participants are racing for PRs, so of course the average time will be slower. And the news isn't really that bad Whether you’re running, walking, or crawling across the finish, you more than deserve that medal for reaching your goal. But if you do want to trim time off your finish (even for the sheer sake of getting those 26.2 miles over sooner), try these 6 Rules for Running Faster and tips to Run Faster, Longer, Stronger, and Injury-Free.