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October 11, 2013

On The Run: The running boom rolls on

We’re in the midst of a running renaissance and it shows no signs of slowing down. Not just on the North Shore, but across the entire country. Despite the lagging economy, runners are flocking to road races in record numbers.

According to RunningUSA, a survey conducted by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) found that running total participation (running at least six days per year) was up almost 4% overall in 2012. Another survey from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) echoed these findings of growth for the general running population as well as serious gains in the adventure racing category.

The NSGA survey also found that 9.2 million respondents were frequent runners (i.e., they ran 110 or more days in 2012), 18.6 million runners were occasional runners (between 25 and 109 days) and 12.2 million were infrequent runners (six to 24 days).

The SFIA survey found that there were 51.5 million total runners (i.e., people who ran or jogged at least once in 2012) and 29.5 million core participants (50 or more days). In addition, there were 5.8 million total trail runners and 1.6 million runners who participated in at least one adventure race, up 34.6 percent from the previous year.

RunningUSA also found that there were more than 15.5 million road race finishers in 2012, a record high. Women comprised 8.6 million finishers nationwide (a record number) and represent the highest percentage ever reported of 56 percent of event fields. The number of U.S. race finishers has increased 80 percent since the year 2000, and female representation increased by 14 percent in that time.

The total number of U.S. running events reached 26,370 last year, another all-time high, according to RunningUSA, with the half-marathon distance seeing an annual increase of 14.9 percent finishers (1.85 million) and 60 percent in female participation. In 2012, the 5K was the most-run distance with 6.2 million finishers, which was nearly 40 percent of all finishers in the U.S., followed by the half-marathon with approximately 12 percent and the 10K with 9.5 percent.

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