Battle of the Long Distance Races

If you’re not a runner, it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea of running 26.2 miles. Words like “crazy” might come to mind when you as much as think about it. But for those who’ve come to love running – whether they just started going ’round the block last month or have been competing in their age groups for years – the marathon distance is the ultimate goal; a bucket list type of thing. A marathon is long enough to challenge you physically and mentally and to test your endurance, spirit and heart, not to mention your love of and commitment to the sport. Do not fool yourself, in training you will cover many, many hundreds of miles. And so it is: when it comes to long distance running, the marathon has all the glory. But in recent years, it isn’t the marathon that’s exploding in popularity among runners — it’s the distance that was once, perhaps deprecatingly, named “half” of a marathon. There is nothing “half” in a half marathon, mind you. To run 13.1 miles is no small feat. But because it is, after all, twice shorter than a marathon and the training is arguably easier and less time consuming, the number of people finishing a half marathon distance has been growing much faster in recent years than those running and finishing the full. Non-profit organization Running USA and Athlinks, an online database for race results, released its latest annual Half Marathon report earlier this week and, together with the same type of data for the marathon (out just a few weeks prior), we created the infographic below to visualize some of the most interesting data.

Aleks Todorova is the Editorial Director at She recently ran her third marathon and will run her 21st half marathon this Sunday. Follow her on Twitter.

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