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Posted: April 10, 2019:  

Athletics: Largest marathon research study reveals insights on Boston Marathon runners

Most recent and comprehensive marathon research study reveals insights on Boston Marathon runner over last five years; Study conducted by RunnerClick reveals how recreational Boston Marathoners stack up against rest of world

NEW YORK - April 4, 2019 - The most comprehensive study of *recreational marathon runners released earlier this year revealed insights about differences in runners around the world.

Today, more research was published that drills down into Boston Marathon runners just ahead of the 2019 Boston Marathon taking place on April 15, 2019.

The initial study published (in February 2019) included 784 marathons worldwide between 2014 and 2017. The Boston Marathon stood out for a number of reasons including being one of the most *popular marathons in the world to run, as well as having the largest increase in performance (of the five largest marathons included in the study) over the years, with an increased average time of five minutes and 20 seconds.


With more than 100,000 Boston Marathon runners over the four-year timeframe the study was conducted, Boston came in as the fastest marathon, with an average finish time of 3:56:13. For perspective, The Chicago Marathon, another popular race in the US, was second fastest with an average finish time of 4:28:59, and the New York Marathon had an average finish time of 4:36:50. Also, 25 percent of the world’s runners participate in these three marathons collectively. The top recreational runners in the Boston Marathon have held pretty steady finishing times over the last four years. The fastest recreational time hovers around 2:30 for men, and 2:45 for women. (A breakdown of times over all years can be found here.)


The initial study found that the US was the most gender equal country, with a near split of male to female runners while the rest of the world’s marathons had a significantly higher proportion of males. In looking at gender differences in Boston Marathon runners specifically, the average finishing time for the men was 3:46:45, and 4:07:33 for the women, which puts Boston in the top five fastest marathons for each gender as well. Over the four years, men account for 54.8 percent of the runners, and the women 45.2 percent. Compare this to Greece for example that was highlighted in the prior study as having the worst gender diversity with 90 percent male and 10 percent female.


Americans make up the bulk of the runners in the Boston Marathon, but data suggests its becoming more diverse, attracting those non-US participants. In 2014, 85.2 percent were American; in 2015, 82.2 percent; in 2016, 81.3 percent; and I 2017, 79.3 percent.


Age group 40-49 was the most popular age group for all four years for both men and women and age group 30-39 came in a close second for all four years for both men and women.

More information on the reserach study focused on Boston Marathon runners can be found here.

*’Popular’’ defined in the study are Marathons having over 100,000 participants.
*’Recreational’ is to denote that ‘elite’ runners were omitted. ‘Elite’ is defined as men with a finishing time of 2:30:00 or better and women with a finishing time of 2:45:00 or better.

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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