Road Race Stats - Marathons & Other Running Races

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon

The Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon was held this morning in Virginia Beach, VA. A men's course record was set by James Mwangi of Kenya with a time of 1:00:42 (more info, RunnersWeb). The weather was pretty good for a summer weekend. The temperature at the start of the race was 64°F. There were 15.5K timed finishers in this race. 20K entrants had registered. I wonder if the hurricane disaster deterred anyone from running. I guess it could also be due to the skyrocketing gas prices.

This article from HamptonRoads.com provides some history and interesting stats about this race. This half marathon started back in 2001 with 15K runners. There was consideration of having this be a full marathon, but due to the warm weather and the competition of other full marathons like Washington and Chicago, it was decided to make it a half marathon that could be used as a training run for these other races. The race organizers felt the half can still have some of the prestige of a full marathon. That combined with the beach and Labor Day weekend could get out-of-state runners to make the trip.

As the article described, this half had good timing. Half marathons have been consistently growing in popularity throughout the nation. I've seen this also in my statistics. The article quoted a stat from Running USA on the growth half marathons: 15 years ago 236K runners finished half marathons in the US. Last year it had grown to 500K. Another stat that matches what I've seen is the half popularity with women. In last year's race, 7231 (57%) women finished compared to 5564 men. This year's percentage was about the same: 8790 (57%) women vs 6715 men (race results).

As the article mentioned, training for halfs can be fit into a daily schedule of a typical runner. They don't require the time and physical commitment of a full marathon. And half marathons are being added to more full marathon races. Next spring, the Shamrock Marathon will add a half for the first time.

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