USA Marathoning: 2006 Overview
By MarathonGuide.com Staff
Each year, MarathonGuide.com has put out a report detailing the statistics of the year in USA marathoning. This year we went overboard by slicing and dicing the results in more and exciting ways. We love statistics and on this page you will find every bit of information that you might want to get a clear picture of the state of marathoning in the USA.
You will find no other report this comprehensive or this accurate and we're proud to bring this to you exclusively on MarathonGuide.com.
2006 Total USA Marathon Finishers
2006 saw a record number of marathon finishes in the USA, with a 3.7% growth in the number of marathon finishers from 2005 to 2006. More than 397,000 marathon finishing times were recorded in the USA in 2006 - an increase from almost 383,000 finishes in 2005. The number of male finishers increased by 3.8%, while the number of female finishers grew by 3.5%, and for the first time in years, the gender gap in marathoning grew with men accounting for 60.1% of marathon finishes and women 39.9%. In total, we know of 350 marathons that took place in the USA in 2006, up from an estimated 331 in 2005.
2006 Overall Demographics
Historical Total USA Marathon Finishers
Marathoning in the USA continued its consistent upward growth in 2006 - furthering a trend that has been in place over recent years with the exception of a dip in 2001 due to the terrorist activities of 9/11. After two years of growth by more than 20,000 finishes, the current year saw a growth of just over 14,000 finishers with more than two-thirds of that growth directly attributable to growth in the top ten largest marathons. After years with strong growth and some mega-inaugural marathons, 2007 seems to be the year that the high growth and sex-equality trends have taken a break.
2006 Largest USA Marathons
New York, Chicago and Honolulu continued with their respective ranking as the number one, two and three marathons in the USA - each growing moderately as they have in recent years. The Marine Corps Marathon continued its pace of rapid growth, moving into the fourth spot among the country's marathons. Two marathons, in particular, saw exceptional growth: the Disney World Marathon moved its Half-Marathon to the day before its marathon enabling the marathon field to expand significantly and the introduction of the event's "Goofy Challenge" combined to enable the marathon to grow by more than 30% from 2005 to 2006 and rise to 8th place in the overall size rankings. The ING Miami Marathon (a top Winter destination locale) added more than 40% to its numbers to move into the ranks of the top 30 marathons with the biggest percentage growth among the top 30 - over 40%. Of the marathons losing rank, the New Las Vegas Marathon had the most significant decline, shedding 27.9% of its marathoners - not atypical of the second year performance of an event that is highly promoted in its inaugural year. In all, the top 30 marathons accounted for more than 71% of all marathon finishes - down slightly from past years.
2005 to 2006
|New York City Marathon||37,936||1||1||2.9%|
|Marine Corps Marathon||20,879||4||5||9.3%|
|City of Los Angeles Marathon (L.A. Marathon)||20,169||5||4||0.9%|
|Rock 'n' Roll Marathon||15,771||7||7||-1.0%|
|Disney World Marathon||10,125||8||10||31.1%|
|Twin Cities Marathon||8,215||9||9||6.0%|
|Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon||7,428||11||12||3.7%|
|New Las Vegas Marathon||5,903||14||8||-27.9%|
|St. George Marathon||4,761||17||19||3.3%|
|Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon||4,172||19||21||11.5%|
|Country Music Marathon||4,022||20||22||9.0%|
|The San Francisco Marathon||4,021||21||17||-17.5%|
|Detroit Free Press International Marathon||3,880||22||23||9.2%|
|California International Marathon||3,789||23||25||16.6%|
|Dallas White Rock Marathon||3,507||25||26||14.0%|
|Big Sur International Marathon||2,947||26||28||2.6%|
|Vermont City Marathon||2,495||28||29||1.4%|
2006 USA Inaugural Marathons
There were approximately 28 inaugural marathons in 2006, all relatively small. Three marathons saw over 1,000 finishers - the OBX Marathon, Route 66 Marathon and the New Denver Marathon.
2006 Age Group Breakdown
Between 2005 and 2006, the average age of marathon finishers increased by 0.25 years for both men and women to 40.7 years-old for men and 36.4 years-old for women. In 2006, the average finishing time for men improved slightly over 2005 to 4:31:26, while women's times slowed slightly to 5:06:36.
Fastest Age Groups
In keeping with historic trends, the fastest average age-group were men aged 40-44, with a mean finishing time of 4:20:44. Average times were just slower (less than one minute) in the M35-39 age group (4:21:24) with more sever dropoffs to the other age groups.
The women's fastest times were posted by 35-39 year-olds, who averaged a time of 4:56:51 for their finishes. Women 40-44 and 25-29 finished just slower.
Largest Age Groups
In addition to being the fastest age group, men aged 40-44 also represented the largest single age group for marathon runners in 2006, accounting for nearly 10% of all marathoners and more than 16% of male marathoners. For women, the largest group was females between ages 25-29 representing approximately 7.3% of all marathon finishers, and more than 18% of all female finishers.
2006 Marathon Finishing Times
Posted marathon times in the USA in 2006 ranged from 2:07:35 (Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot at Chicago) to over 12 hours in a number of marathons. The chart at the right shows the breakdown of times from the fastest to the slowest.
Just 2.0% of all marathon finishes - about 7,700 - broke the 3 hour mark - a goal for the faster marathoners. Due to the sheer number of runners, the largest marathons accounted for the largest number of sub 3-hour finishes. Some races, however, had a disproportionate number of sub-3 hour performances. These marathons with more than 300 finishers had more than 4% of their finishers arrive in under 3 hours (with % of sub-3hr. finishers): Sugarloaf/USA Marathon (6.76%); Lincoln Marathon (6.04%); Boston Marathon (5.65%), Mohawk-Hudson River Marathon (5.23%); California International Marathon (4.86%); Steamtown Marathon (4.31%); Pocono Run For the Red Marathon (4.30%); Cape Cod Marathon (4.23%); Hartford Marathon (4.12%). Three smaller marathons also showed great resiliency in filling their ranks with sub-3 hour finishers: the Yonkers Marathon (12 of 102 sub-3); Mississippi Marathon (10 of 140 sub-3); Eisenhower Marathon (11 of 177 sub-3). Othe
Marathoners in the Middle
The average time to complete the marathon distance - using net time where available and gun time where not - was 4:39:33 for all runners with a standard deviation of 1:06:13. For men, the average was 4:26:32 with a standard deviation of 1:02:06 and for women it was 4:59:09 with a standard deviation of 1:07:23. Standard deviation is a measure of how tightly grouped the data is and statistically, 68% of results will be between 1 standard deviation of the mean and 95% of results will be within 2 standard deviations of the mean.
2006 Finishing Times
*based on chip time, when available
Marathoners over 7 hours
Many marathons enforce a course closing time of six or seven hours, forcing a limit to the maximum time that can be achieved. Some marathons have a more liberal course closing policy, and indeed some of the "slowing" of the average marathon times over the years can be directly attributed to the number of slow marathoners that are participating in just a few marathons. In 2005, 14,680 marathoners crossed the finish line in over 7:00. Some of the slowest finishes were in the country's toughest trail marathons including the Bataan Memorial Death March (1,180 - 66% of finishers - over 7:00 including a category where participants carry a 40 pound pack on their back) and Pikes Peak Marathon (372 over 7:00). As in past years, however, more than half of the total marathoners over seven hours can be attributed directly to two races: the Honolulu Marathon (5,340 - more than 20% of the field - over 7:00) and the LA Marathon (2,829 - 14% of its field - over 7:00). Other mid- to large- marathons with the largest percentage of finishers over 7:00 (and also with an average finish time over 5:00) include the Mayor's Marathon, Portland Marathon, Nike Women's Marathon and Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.
Marathon Course Limits
Marathon Course Limits have become a bigger issue with the increase in number of walkers and the slowing of the marathoning population. Marathon course limits have become, in general, directly correlated to the size of a marathon. Approximately 1/3 of marathons have course limits of 5-1/2 hours or less, but those marathons together cater to just 10% of all marathon finishers, with only one of these (Napa Valley Marathon) having greater than 1,000 finishers. Ten Marathons above 1,000 finishers allow runners to complete their course in 6:00 or 6:30, with the Boston Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon, Houston Marathon and Big Sur International Marathon as the largest in this category. Fewer than 15% of all marathons have a course limit of 8:00 or greater, but these marathons handle nearly 60% of all runners - whether they take advantage of the extended finish time or not. The longest course limits generally belong to the largest marathons that also present themselves as especially walker friendly (in order by longest finish time), including the Honolulu Marathon, Bataan Memorial Death March, Portland Marathon, New York City Marathon and Los Angeles Marathon - all with finish lines that remain open for ten hours or longer.
|Cutoff Time||# Marathons||Avg. Finishers|
|5:00 or less||27||110|