USA Marathoning: 2007 Overview
By MarathonGuide.com Staff
2007 Introduction and Explanation
Every few years an event occurs which can alter reported statistics and trends and the data for those years needs to be prefaced with an explanation. 2001 was a perfect example of that, when the 9/11 bombings caused potential marathon participants to curtail their travel to Fall marathons and resulted in a reported decline in the number of 2001 marathon finishers wholly unrelated to any trends in the sport.
2007 was one of those years... The weather was the story in 2007 - beginning with a torrential Nor'easter leading to the possible cancelation of the Boston Marathon and causing some participants of that race to stay home and culminating in a terrible heat wave that caused the partial cancellation of the Chicago Marathon and a drop in starter and finisher numbers in other marathons on the weekend of October 5. While the Boston Marathon showed a significant increase in finishers - the numbers were undoubtedly affected by the weather. Most obviously affecting the numbers, however, was the decision by the Chicago Marathon to cancel the race mid-stream due to weather and safety concerns. With that decision, an estimated 8,000+ runners were removed from the course and not allowed to record a finish time. On any other weekend or year, presumably, the vast majority of those runners would be included in these finisher statistics. On the same weekend, the Twin Cities Marathon saw one thousand fewer finishers than normal and the Portland Marathon saw a drop in finisher numbers of 500 over the previous year. Also affecting these numbers - although we have made some adjustments to compensate pending final results - the use of a new timing system at the Honolulu Marathon was said to have excluded up to 4,000 finishers whose results were going to be later verified by a review of finisher video tape and photos.
Amidst a backdrop of those starters who were not allowed to finish and/or not recorded and the effect of weather on some of the remaining largest marathons, one should recognize that the marathon growth rate of 2.3% could have easily been in the range of 4.8% or higher had this been a normal year.
2007 Total Marathon Finishers and Overall Demographics
2007 saw a record number of marathon finishes in the USA, with a 2.3% growth in the number of marathon finishers from 2006 to 2007. More than 403,000 marathon finishing times were recorded in the USA in 2007 (while we are estimating that this number will become 407,000 when the dust settles) - an increase from over 397,000 finishes in 2006. With our estimates, the number of male finishers increased by 3.2%, while the number of female finishers grew by only 1.3% - the lowest rate ever. Continuing the trend which began in 2006, the gender gap has been widening, this year greatly, with men accounting for 60.5% of marathon finishes and women 39.5%. To further emphasize the loss of women to the sport, the average age of female participants grew, suggesting that the aging population of female marathoners was not being replaced by younger runners. On the other hand, the average age for male marathoners dipped slightly, meaning that younger men were helping to prop up the numbers and are showing support for the sport.
In total, we know of 340 marathons that took place in the USA in 2007, which was down from an estimated 350 in 2006 - but clearly, the average size of these marathons was greater than in past years.
2007 Overall Demographics
*Net Time used where available
Historical Total USA Marathon Finishers
Marathoning in the USA continued its consistent upward growth in 2007 - 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. The growth in 2007, however, was different than in other years, in that the growth was spread across a wide range of marathons.
In 2007, two-thirds of all marathons grew (adding 32,000 finishers); while just one-third ended with fewer numbers (shedding 23,000 finishers). Half of the decline in numbers could be directly attributed to October 5th marathons: Chicago, Twin Cities and Portland; or to two properties owned by the Devine Racing Group: the Las Vegas and Salt Lake City Marathons. On the other hand, allocating the increase in finishers must be done across a wider number of races: two debut marathons - Georgia and Eugene - together added nearly 6,000 or one-fifth of the increase in finishers, while a second tier of races - Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, National Marathon, Kansas City Marathon, Richmond Marathon, California International Marathon and the Mardi Gras Marathon (coming back post-Katrina), showed tremendous growth, but between them added just over 4,000 finishers. The remaining growth was spread across 200 other marathons which added an average of 100 finishers each. An amazingly industry-wide demonstration of strength and growth.
2007 Largest USA Marathons
The list and order of top marathons remained generally the same as in the previous year, but amazingly there was little growth to be seen at the top. After years of great growth, some of the largest marathons were beginning to realize the limits of their courses and chose not to increase the number of accepted registrants, resulting in limited growth in the number of finishers and even a decline where weather and other factors were added in. We have already explained the decline in number of finishers for the Chicago, Twin Cities and Portland Marathons; but must comment on the continued decline in the size of the Las Vegas Marathon which debuted as the 8th largest marathon in the USA in 2005 before falling to 14th in 2006 and 21st in 2007... Most impressive growth was shown by the Country Music Marathon and California International Marathon; and by the Richomond Marathon which rebounded from a 17% decline in number of finishers between 2005 and 2006.
Most amazing is that the top 30 marathons accounted for just 57% of all finishers compared to 71% of all finishers in 2006. Certainly the appeal of marathoning and success of the sport is reaching further across to many events.
*As of this writing (12/31/07), the Chicago Marathon was listing 25,523 finishers and the Honolulu Marathon had printed 20,850 finisher results.
|Marathon Name|| 2007 Finishers ||2007 Rank||2006 Rank||Growth 2006 to 2007|
|New York City Marathon||38,557||1||1||1.6%|
|Marine Corps Marathon||20,622||4||4||-1.2%|
|City of Los Angeles Marathon (L.A. Marathon)||20,016||6||5||-0.8%|
|Rock 'n' Roll Marathon||15,958||7||7||1.2%|
|Disney World Marathon||10,936||8||8||8.0%|
|Twin Cities Marathon||7,215||10||9||-12.2%|
|Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon||6,942||11||11||-6.5%|
|St. George Marathon||5,155||15||17||8.3%|
|Country Music Marathon||4,778||16||19||18.8%|
|California International Marathon||4,743||17||23||25.2%|
|The San Francisco Marathon||4,250||20||20||5.7%|
|New Las Vegas Marathon||4,154||21||14||-29.6%|
|Nike 26.2 = Nike Women's Marathon||4,152||22||21||4.5%|
|Dallas White Rock Marathon||4,019||23||25||14.6%|
|Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon||3,970||25||18||-4.8%|
|Detroit Free Press International Marathon||3,745||26||22||-3.5%|
|Big Sur International Marathon||3,092||28||26||4.9%|
|Vermont City Marathon||2,504||31||28||0.4%|
|Long Beach International City Marathon||2,339||32||31||13.9%|
|Bataan Memorial Death March||1,996||34||36||11.4%|
2007 USA Inaugural Marathons
There were approximately 21 inaugural marathons in 2007 and most were relatively small. Just two of the inaugural marathons over 1,000 finishers - the ING Georgia Marathon, which debuted as the 19th largest marathon in the USA with 4,300+ finishers and the Eugene Marathon. Approximately 25 marathons did not continue their run into 2007, but this group had an average size of just 103 runners in 2006 and the loss from the discontinued marathons was more than made up for by the new marathons.
2007 Age Group Breakdown
|AgeGroup||Avg. Time||Percent||Percent of Sex|
Between 2006 and 2007, the average age of marathon finishers stayed relatively the same at 38.9 years old. The age of men decreased from 40.7 in 2006 to 40.5 in 2007, while the average age for women increased from 36.4 to 36.5. In 2007, the average finishing time for men slowed to 4:29:52 from 4:26:39, while women slowed from 4:59:19 to 4:59:28. Given the terrible weather, we should believe that these time differences are not significant.
Fastest Age Groups
In keeping with historic trends, the fastest average age-group were men aged 40-44, with a mean finishing time of 4:21:00. Average times were just slower in the M35-39 age group (4:22:40) with more severe dropoffs to the other men's age groups.
The women's fastest times were posted by 35-39 year-olds, who averaged a time of 4:51:30 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 2007, accounting for nearly 10% of all marathoners and more than 16% of male marathoners, with men aged 35-39 just behind in the numbers. For women, the largest group was females between ages 25-29 representing approximately 7.4% of all marathon finishers, and nearly 19% of all female finishers.
2007 Marathon Finishing Times
Posted marathon times in the USA in 2007 ranged from 2:09:02 (Ryan Hall at the USA Men's Olympic Trials) to over 14 hours in a number of marathons. The chart at the right shows the breakdown of times from the fastest to the slowest.
Just 1.7% of all marathon finishes - about 6,929 - broke the 3 hour mark - a goal for the faster marathoners; but this number was down significantly from 2006 in which year more than 7,600 runners broke 3 hours.
2007 Finishing Times by Half Hour
*based on chip time, when available