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Posted: January 22, 2019:  

Athletics: World's Largest Recreational Marathon Research Study Reveals New Insights About Runners

Data from 39 countries reveal U.S. has highest proportion of female runners; 40-49 year-old age group is fastest and most popular; Slovenia, Iceland and Ukraine are fastest counties; Boston Marathon boasts fastest average runtime of ‘popular races’; 90-99 year-old age group fastest growing

NEW YORK - JANUARY 22, 2019 - The most comprehensive study of recreational marathon runners released today from RunnerClick reveals new insights about differences in runners around the world.

Analyzing more than 3.5 million records across 39 countries over four years, the data reveal surprising findings including the gender inequality of male and female runners in many countries. The U.S. has the highest proportion of female runners, making it the most gender equal country (45% female), followed by Canada (40% female). Greece is the worse in terms of female participation with 90% male and 10% female.

Another surprising finding was that the 90-99 year-old age group is the fastest growing, increasing 39% from 2014 to 2017. Other findings include the 40-49 year-old age group holds that fastest average runtime (and is the most populous), and Slovenia, Iceland and Ukraine boast the fastest average times globally.

A breakdown of some of the standout data can be found below, with all the data on, here.

Peak age performance and gender participation:

  • The fastest age group for men is 40-49 years of age while the fastest age group for women is 20-29 years of age.
  • The countries with the highest proportion of women runners are the U.S. at 45% and Canada at 40%
  • Greece is the worse in terms of gender equality with 90% male, and 10% female runners.
  • Ukraine had the largest increase for both men, +394%, and women, +383% participation.
  • Turkey had the biggest decline for men at -60%; Turkey also had the biggest decline for women at -79%

Staggering growth in older adult participation:

  • Between 2014-2017, there was a 39% increase of participants in the 90-99 year-old age group.

Age group and countries that are the fastest:

  • Age group 40-49 years old ranks as the most popular age group in 29 countries, and it is also the age group that produces the fastest run times.
  • Iceland, Slovenia, and Ukraine landed in the top three fastest nations for men.
  • Ukraine and Slovenia held strong times for women.

Where are the most popular marathons, and which marathon has the fastest runners?

  • North America makes up about 50% of the worlds marathon runners with Boston, Chicago, and New York being the most popular marathons in the U.S.
  • In Europe, Berlin and London are the most popular marathons.
  • The marathon that averages the fastest runtimes out of those above mentioned ‘most popular’ races (in the U.S. and Europe) was the Boston Marathon, with an average runtime of 3:56:17.

The data analyzed was made up of 3.5 million race records from 196 marathons between the years 2014-2017 spanning 238 nationalities across 39 countries. The research was conducted by research specialists and data scientists, and was commissioned by RunnerClick, an online resource for reviews and help-content for running and other activities. The full research results including graphs and comprehensive data findings, as well as the research methodology, can be found here.

About RunnerClick:

RunnerClick is a website dedicated to running and overall fitness, providing help-content and reviews on all things needed for running and other fitness activities.

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