USA Marathoning: 2008 Overview
By MarathonGuide.com Staff
2008 Total Marathon Finishers and Overall Demographics
2008 saw a record number of marathon finishes in the USA, with a 4.7% growth in the number of marathon finishers from 2007 to 2008. Just over 425,000 marathon finishing times were recorded in the USA in 2008 - an increase from the 407,000 finishes in 2007. The number of male finishers increased by 3.1%, while the number of female finishers grew by a staggering 7.1%. Of great interest (at least to us) is that after a year of declining female participitation (by percentage), in 2008 women achieved a record percentage of total finishers at nearly 40.4% - the highest percentage ever.
In total, we know of 372 marathons that took place in the USA in 2008, which was up from an estimated 340 in 2007. With the growth in total number of marathons, the average size of marathons dipped to its lowest number of the decade: 1,144 - but the average is still a skewed number pulled up by the largest marathons in the country. Like the average, the median size of marathons fell in 2008, with the median size of a marathon falling to a low of 213 finishers.
2008 Overall Demographics
*Net Time used where available
Historical Total USA Marathon Finishers
Marathoning in the USA continued its consistent upward growth in 2008 - 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.
A major portion of the growth in 2008 can be attributed to six marathons which between them added over 15,000 new marathon finishes: the inaugural Rock N Roll San Antonio Marathon with 7,500 finishers (offset by the loss of 1,200 finishes attributable to the prior San Antonio Marathon which it replaced), a rebound in the numbers finishing the Chicago Marathon after its partial cancellation in 2007, huge growth at the Disney Marathon and good starting numbers from the inaugural 26.2 for Donna and Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Properties owned by Devine Racing continued to lead the list of decliners as both the LA Marathon and Las Vegas Marathon shed more than 15% of each of their fields, losing more than 3,000 and 600 finishers respectively. After a disappointing inaugural display and following on the heels of a tornado, the Georgia Marathon also gave back more than 2,200 finishers - more than half of the field from its inaugural year. As has been the trend, however, approximately 2/3 of all marathons saw some growth and the industry seemed healthy across the board.
2008 Largest USA Marathons
The list and order of top marathons remained generally the same as in the previous year, with the same races maintaing their position in the top ten with just some small shuffling of position. Meaningfully, the Boston Marathon catapulted into the third spot - gaining a top three position by size to match what most consider to be its spot among the top three marathons by prestige. As with the top 10, the ranks of the largest 25 marathons stayed relatively stable with the Rock N Roll San Antonio Marathon debuting high in the list and the Georgia Marathon falling out of the top 25 - all the way from number 19 to number 35. The marathons in the top 25 accounted for 63.3% of all marathon finishes in 2008, down from 65.5% of all finishes in 2007 as many mid-sized marathons saw solid growth in 2008.
|Marathon Name|| 2008 Finishers ||2008 Rank||2007 Rank||Growth 2007 to 2008|
|New York City Marathon||37,790||1||1||-2.0%|
|Marine Corps Marathon||18,219||5||4||-11.7%|
|City of Los Angeles Marathon (L.A. Marathon)||16,941||6||6||-15.4%|
|Rock 'n' Roll Marathon||16,373||7||7||2.6%|
|Disney World Marathon||12,951||8||8||18.4%|
|Twin Cities Marathon||7,966||9||10||10.4%|
|Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Marathon||7,525||11||Inaugural||N/A|
|Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon||6,453||14||11||-7.0%|
|California International Marathon||5,198||16||17||9.6%|
|St. George Marathon||5,030||17||15||-2.4%|
|Nike 26.2 = Nike Women's Marathon||4,881||18||22||17.6%|
|Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon||4,725||19||25||19.0%|
|Country Music Marathon||4,373||21||16||-8.5%|
|The San Francisco Marathon||4,354||22||20||2.4%|
|Dallas White Rock Marathon||3,878||23||23||-3.5%|
|Las Vegas Marathon||3,517||25||21||-15.3%|
|Detroit Free Press International Marathon||3,515||26||26||-6.1%|
|Big Sur International Marathon||3,191||27||28||3.2%|
|Long Beach International City Marathon||2,656||30||32||13.6%|
|Vermont City Marathon||2,379||32||31||-5.0%|
|Shamrock Sportsfest Marathon||2,292||33||37||22.0%|
|Bataan Memorial Death March||2,070||37||34||3.7%|
|Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon||1,964||38||42||23.3%|
|Air Force Marathon||1,798||42||41||9.4%|
|Napa Valley Marathon||1,757||43||57||42.0%|
|Top of Utah Marathon||1,713||46||48||13.2%|
|New Jersey Marathon||1,699||47||45||8.4%|
|Myrtle Beach Marathon||1,686||48||39||-4.5%|
|26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer||1,679||49||Inaugural||N/A|
|Green Bay Marathon||1,628||50||52||24.2%|
2008 USA Inaugural Marathons
There were approximately 30 inaugural marathons in 2008 and most were relatively small. Just three of the inaugural marathons had over 1,000 finishers. The Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Marathon, which debuted as the 11th largest marathon in the USA with 7,500+ finishers - continuing the trend of Elite Racing's mega-inaugural races (in chronological order, debuts over 5,000 runners: Rock N Roll Marathon-1998, Country Music Marathon-2000, Rock N Roll Arizona-2004, Rock N Roll San Antonio-2008). 26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer, and the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon were the only other two debut marathons to crack the 1,000 finisher mark in 2008.
2008 Age Group Breakdown
|AgeGroup||Avg. Time||Percent Of Total||Percent of Sex|
Between 2007 and 2008, the average age of marathon finishers decreased by a statistically irrelevant 0.1 years across the board: overall average from 38.9 to 38.8 years old, average men's age from 40.5 to 40.4 years, and aveage women's age stayed the same at 36.5 years old. In 2008, the average finishing times for all marathoners decreased by three minutes (men from 4:29:52 to 4:26:51, women from 4:59:28 to 4:56:44; overall from 4:41:33 to 4:38:55). A number of factors could be responsible for the faster times, but one likely factor was the effect of the unseasonably warm weather slowing the Fall 2007 finishing times.
Fastest Age Groups
In keeping with historic trends, the fastest average age-group remained men aged 40-44, with a mean finishing time of 4:18:44. Among women, the fastest average times were posted by 35-39 year-olds, who averaged 4:50:18 for their finishes, just ahead of women aged 25-29 and women aged 40-44.
Largest Age Groups
The Men's 35-39 age group was the largest single group, accounting for nearly 10% of all marathoners and more than 16% of male marathoners, with men aged 40-44 just behind in the numbers. For women, the largest group was females between ages 25-29 representing more than 19% of all female finishers.
2008 Marathon Finishing Times
Marathon times in the USA in 2007 ranged from 2:06:25 (Evans Cheruiyot at the Chicago Marathon) to over 14 hours (some of the participants at the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon and Honolulu Marathons). The chart at the right shows the breakdown of times from the fastest to the slowest.
Just 1.7% of all marathon finishes - just over 8,000 - broke the 3 hour mark - a goal for the faster marathoners and a record for this figure.
Marathoners in the Middle
Statisticians like to talk about median (the middle person) and mean (the average) and standard deviation (how tightly grouped results are around the mean. For all marathon finishes, the median was 4:28:20, while the average was 4:38:53 with a standard deviation of 1:04:37. For men, the median finishing time was 4:16:40, while the average was 4:26:49 with a standard deviation of 1:01:27; and for women the median was 4:45:11, while the average was 4:56:44 with a standard deviation of 1:05:04. Standard deviation is a measure of how tightly grouped the data is and statistically, 68.3% of results will be between 1 standard deviation of the mean and 95.4% of results will be within 2 standard deviations of the mean.
2008 Finishing Times by Half Hour
*based on chip time, when available
Nearly one-third of races and more than 50% of all marathon finishes took place during the 4th quarter of the year (October, November, December) with October being the busiest month and alone accounting for 15% of all races and more than 25% of all finishes. May leaped into the second spot for number of marathons, while September accounted for the third largest number of marathons but the third fewest number of participants - an anomaly underlining the large number of smaller races that take place during that month.