The half marathon has experienced huge growth in the past couple of decades.
In 2000, there were 482,000 half marathon finishers in the United States. By 2014, that number had jumped by more than two million, an increase of 307%.
The half marathon isn’t just a US phenomenon though. Although 14 of the 20 largest half marathons in the world in 2013 were in the US, the three biggest were overseas – Goteborg in Sweden holds the record for the largest half marathon in history with 45,126 finishers.
It’s particularly awesome to see massive strides in the number of women signing up to races. In 1990, only 25% of road race finishers in the US were women. Now ladies make up more than half of all road race finishers in the US. Go girls!
According to a survey of ‘hard core runners’ the half marathon is their favourite race distance.
So what’s the attraction to 21.1kms? It’s certainly not easy, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Well, it has the word marathon in it – meaning you get twice the bragging rights for only half the effort – maybe that has something to do with it?
Half marathons look great on social – from the awesome places you go when you’re training, to inspiring sunrise shots snapped while everyone else is sleeping, to the full breakfast you and your training buddy mop up after a long Sunday morning run – you’re never short of an Instagram post.
While half marathons are pretty formidable for non-runners, millions of people have proven over the past two decades that whether you walk or run, they are actually pretty achievable.
Training doesn’t need to take over your life – as long as you get a couple of short walks or runs plus one long run in each week for about three – four months – you’ll be able to comfortably finish a half marathon.
Half marathons give you an excuse to travel – whether to San Francisco for the Golden Gate Half, Bermuda, Tromsø in the very north of Norway, 400km above the Arctic Circle for the Midnight Sun Run, or let’s not forget beautiful Marlborough, the wine capital of New Zealand – there’s never been a more legitimate reason to travel!