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Published July 04, 2011, 12:00 AM

Wagner: Survey shares insights on runners, events

Every two years, Running USA, a nonprofit aiming to improve road racing in our country, conducts a national survey to gauge trends and issues in our sport.

Every two years, Running USA, a nonprofit aiming to improve road racing in our country, conducts a national survey to gauge trends and issues in our sport.

The extensive survey aims – among other things – to assess the “demographics, lifestyle, attitudes, habits and product preferences” of runners. The results, out this month, offer interesting insights and details about “core runners,” or those who enter events, train throughout the year and purchase at least two pairs of running shoes per year.

Overall, the Running USA survey backs up the claims that runners tend to be more highly educated, affluent and healthy than the general public.

Consider these survey statistics compiled from more than 10,000 core runners:

  • When it comes to education, 77.2 percent have earned a college diploma, compared to the national average of 29.5 percent

  • In terms of earning power, 72.9 percent reported a household income above $75,000, more than double the national average of 32.4 percent

  • Fitness and health, followed by enjoyment and relieving stress, are the main motivators for most runners to continue training. On average, these athletes run 213 days – logging about 1,269 miles – per year.

    These characteristics all helped racing events thrive during our country’s economic recession. Marathons and half marathons both experienced healthy growth.

Running USA also compiled statistics for races across the country and running shows no signs of slowing in popularity or competitiveness.

In 2010, there were at least 625 marathons in the U.S. with about 507,000 finishers – the latter number representing 40,000 more than the previous year. Those numbers include 26 marathons with at least 4,000 finishers, with New York City setting a record with 44,977 people crossing the finish line.

For half marathons, just shy of 1.4 million people finished a 13.1 mile race. For five consecutive years, the number of half marathon finishers has grown by at least 10 percent. Nationally, 59 percent of half marathon finishers are women, and 24 races saw more than 10,000 finishers.

These represent a snapshot of the survey statistics, which offer many more details about age, gender and preferences among runners. To see more, visit online at www.runningusa.org/node/%2076115#76664.

It’s worth a look – whether you’re a “core runner,” a casual participant or new to the sport. The details show our sport is inclusive and gaining popularity among athletes of all abilities.


Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at http://runningspud.areavoices.com/. He can be reached via email at swagner@forumcomm.com.

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