USA Marathoning: 2011 Overview
By MarathonGuide.com Staff
2011 Total Marathon Finishers and Overall Demographics
2011 saw a continuation of the strong growth in number of marathon finishers from past years and continued the trend of more balance between the sexes. In total, approximatly 523,000 marathon finishing times were recorded in the USA in 2011 - nearly 20,000 more than the number of finishers from 2010. The number of male finishers increased by 6.4%, while the number of female finishers grew by nearly 10.0%. As has been the trend in most recent years, the number of female finishers continued to catch up to the men and the number of female finishers accounted for a record 41.2% of total finishes.
In total, we know of 564 timed marathons that took place in the USA in 2011, which was a significant increase from the estimated 483 marathons held in 2010. The nearly 22% growth in the number of marathons was marked by a proliferation of ultra-small marathons, with 148 marathons with fewer than 100 finishers compared to 100 marathons with fewer than 100 finishers in the prior year. The growth in total number of finishers combined with the great increase in number of races resulted in a decrease in the average marathon size (1,041 finishers) compared to the prior year's 1,151. Details follow.
2011 Overall Demographics
*Net Time used where available
Record Number of USA Marathon Finishers
2011 represented a new record for Marathoning in the USA, but the growth in 2011 was a strange animal affected by two major trends: the rebirth of the Los Angeles Marathon and the decline of the Rock N Roll Marathon series of races.
The absolute growth in number of finishers - 36,000 - was the second highest on record behind only the record growth from 2009 to 2011. Approximately two-thirds (66%) of existing marathons saw a growth in their number of finishers showing that the running industry and marathoning in particular continued strong in what remained a weak economy.
One race, the Los Angeles Marathon, was the largest contributor to the numbers growth between 2009 and 2011 as the race added nearly 8,400 to its finisher count from 2009 to 2011 (almost 25% of the total growth for the year). The story of the Los Angeles Marathon was less one of miraculous growth than a return to where the race should was in its past. In 2005 and 2006, The Los Angeles Marathon had fields of more than 20,000 finishers in 2006 and 2005 but declined to fewer than 17,000 in 2008 under the ownership of Devine Racing. With the sale of the race while the 2009 race was still being planned, the City of Los Angeles asked the race to move, last minute, from its traditional March date to a Memorial Day May date with a devastating effect as the race saw only 14,000 finishers. With a full year of new ownership, a return to the March date and the excitement of a new course, the Los Angeles Marathon grew to a record finisher count of more than 22,400 - nearly a 60% growth over its prior year, although just 10% over its previous record.
A number of other races saw significant numbers growth as well. The two largest marathons in the country - the New York City Marathon (1,450 additional) and Chicago Marathon (2,700 additional) - added more than 4,000 finishers between them, a large absolute number but not a substantial percentage growth. The conversion of the locally-operated New Orleans Mardi Gras Marathon to an inaugural Rock N Roll Marathon event more than doubled its numbers adding more than 2,000. Others showing significant growth included the Disney World and Philadelphia Marathons both adding more than 1,000 finishers to their counts.
Bucking the trend, the Rock N Roll Series of Marathons saw a huge decline in numbers as its organizers began to forsake the marathon distance in favor of the half marathon. A number of inaugural Rock N Roll Half Marathon-only events presumably drew runners away from organizer's existing races; the addition of a Half Marathon and rebranding (from "The Rock N Roll Marathon" to "Rock N Roll San Diego") of the company's original and last remaining Marathon-only event; and devastating weather at the Country Music Marathon all had a huge effect on the number of marathoners running a Rock N Roll race. In total, the existing Rock N Roll Marathon races saw a decline of more than 12,000 finishers - a loss of nearly 30% of the number of finishers from 2011 to 2009.
2011 Largest USA Marathons
The 2011 list of marathons in the top ten remained similar to that of 2010. New York and Chicago continued to distance themselves from all of their followers and New York again finished with the largest number of marathoners ever finishing a race. The Los Angeles Marathon, for reasons cited above, returned to its position near the top of the charts. The Philadelphia Marathon continued its march up the chartes entering the top 10 for the first moving ahead of the Twin Cities Marathon which has limited growth due to course constraints and the Portland Marathon which saw a slight decline attributable in part to the growth of its Half Marathon.
|Marathon Name|| 2011 Finishers ||2011 Rank||2010 Rank||Growth 2010 to 2011|
|New York City Marathon||46,536||1||1||4.1%|
|Marine Corps Marathon||20,895||4||5||-4.5%|
|City of Los Angeles Marathon (L.A. Marathon)||19,626||5||4||-12.4%|
|Disney World Marathon||13,512||7||7||-19.9%|
|Twin Cities Marathon||8,531||9||10||3.9%|
|Rock 'n' Roll Marathon||8,267||11||8||-22.2%|
|The San Francisco Marathon||5,999||14||13||1.0%|
|California International Marathon||5,755||15||14||-2.1%|
|St. George Marathon||5,700||16||15||.1%|
|Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon||5,062||17||16||-11.1%|
|Nike 26.2 = Nike Women's Marathon||4,781||19||19||-.1%|
|Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Marathon||4,722||21||Inaugural||N/A|
|Dallas White Rock Marathon||4,544||22||20||-.7%|
|Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon||4,291||23||23||4.6%|
|Country Music Marathon||4,082||25||105||433.6%|
|Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Marathon||4,040||26||21||-10.8%|
|Las Vegas Marathon||3,766||28||18||-26.9%|
|Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon||3,500||29||24||-14.2%|
|Detroit Free Press International Marathon||3,384||31||32||4.9%|
|Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis Marathon||3,354||32||Inaugural||N/A|
|Big Sur International Marathon||3,218||33||30||-6.5%|
|Long Beach International City Marathon||3,199||35||29||-8.%|
|Shamrock Sportsfest Marathon||3,158||36||36||19.8%|
|Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon||3,140||37||28||-10.5%|
|Bataan Memorial Death March||2,960||38||38||13.2%|
|Indianapolis Monumental Marathon||2,609||41||40||5.9%|
|Air Force Marathon||2,511||42||41||3.9%|
|Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon||2,495||43||37||-5.3%|
|Surf City Marathon||2,435||44||44||3.7%|
|Vermont City Marathon||2,405||45||35||-12.1%|
|Rock N Roll Denver Marathon||2,381||46||33||-17.7%|
2011 USA Inaugural Marathons
2011 was the slowest year ever for inaugural marathons with only one inaugural marathon - arguably - receiving more than 1,000 finishers. The "inaugural" Rock N Roll Denver Marathon saw nearly 2,900 finishers, but we could easily argue that this was not a true inaugural event as it was a rebranding of the existing Denver Marathon (1,900 finishers in 2009) held on the same weekend as in past years. Perhaps this is an indication that finally all major markets have a marathon to call their own and there are few opportunities for true inaugural races.
2011 Age Group Breakdown
|AgeGroup||Avg. Time||Percent of Total||Percent of Sex|
Between 2010 and 2011, the average age of marathon finishers increased slightly from 38.7 to 38.8 years old with the increase coming on both the men's and women's sides.
Fastest Age Groups
Consistent with all years that we've created these reports, the fastest average age-group belonged to men aged 40-44, this year with a mean finishing time of 4:19:51. On the women's side, the fastest times were posted by women aged 25-29 with similar times for both the 35-39 and 30-34 groups.
Largest Age Groups
The largest groups of runners has been men aged 40-44 or men aged 35-39. That trend continued through 2011. Similarly, the largest group of women runners remained the 25-29 group as it has in past years.
2011 Marathon Finishing Times
Posted marathon times in the USA in 2011 ranged from 2:05:52 (Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot winning the Boston Marathon) to more than 14 hours at the Honolulu Marathon. The chart at the right shows the breakdown of times from the fastest to the slowest.
With more finishers, the absolute number of fast marathon finishes increased with a record 664 finishes under 2:30 and more than 9,000 finishes under 3:00.
Marathoners in the Middle
The average marathon times slowed a bit in 2011 compared to 2010. Median times dropped from 4:25:49 to 4:28:48 across all runners from 2010 to 2011; from 4:41:54 to 4:44:19 for women; and from 4:14:23 to 4:17:36 for men. The average finish times increased, as did the standard deviations. For all runners, average time slowed to 4:38:25 (1:02:54 std. deviation) from 4:35:45 (1:02:31 std. deviation); while the average time for men slowed to 4:27:12 (1:01:18 std. dev.) from 4:24:19 (1:00:05 std. dev.); and for women average finish time decreased to 4:54:27 (std. dev. 1:02:16) from 4:52:36 (1:02:13 std. dev.) in 2010. For those needing a statistics refresher, the "median" is the middle result - half of all finish times slower and half faster; the "average" or "mean" is the sum of all times divided by the number of finishers - slower than median as the biggest times will have an influence on average but not on median; and standard deviation is a measure of how tightly grouped the data is around the mean 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 on a normal curve.
2011 Finishing Times by Half Hour
*based on chip time, when available
|2:03:02 - 2:30:00||666||0.1%||44||0.0%||622||0.2%|
|2:30:00 - 3:00:00||9,205||1.8%||880||0.4%||8,325||2.7%|
|3:00:00 - 3:30:00||44,749||8.5%||7,553||3.5%||37,196||12.0%|
|3:30:00 - 4:00:00||103,125||19.7%||33,188||15.4%||69,937||22.6%|
|4:00:00 - 4:30:00||112,516||21.4%||46,368||21.5%||66,148||21.4%|
|4:30:00 - 5:00:00||100,696||19.2%||46,177||21.4%||54,519||17.6%|
|5:00:00 - 5:30:00||64,627||12.3%||32,597||15.1%||32,030||10.4%|
|5:30:00 - 6:00:00||41,850||8.0%||22,179||10.3%||19,671||6.4%|
|6:00:00 - 6:30:00||21,832||4.2%||12,392||5.7%||9,440||3.1%|
|6:30:00 - 7:00:00||12,291||2.3%||7,132||3.3%||5,159||1.7%|
|7:00:00 - 7:30:00||5,526||1.1%||3,194||1.5%||2,332||0.8%|
|7:30:00 - 8:00:00||3,136||0.6%||1,746||0.8%||1,390||0.4%|
|8:00:00 - 8:30:00||1,702||0.3%||912||0.4%||790||0.3%|
|8:30:00 - 9:00:00+||1,198||0.2%||628||0.3%||570||0.2%|
|9:00:00+ - Total||1,627||0.3%||726||0.3%||901||0.3%|
Marathon seasonality remained similar in 2011 to past years. The fourth quarter of the year accounted for nearly one-third (32.8%) of all marathon races and more than half (51.9%) of all marathon finishes. October remained the most popular month for running a marathon and extended its lead - the month almone accounted for more than 18% of all marathon races and more than one-quarter (26.6%) of all marathon finishes of the year. With the return of the Los Angeles Marathon from May to March, the first quarter of the year regained near parity with the second quarter of the year for number of marathon finishes.