The half marathon is the most popular race distance in America. In 2014, there were over two million half marathon race finishers. And things aren’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact, the popularity of the half marathon has grown by more than 40% over the last four years.

Half marathons attract recreational runners and competitive amateurs looking to challenge themselves and have a good time. Race destinations, medals, and post-race festivities are determining factors for many runners. Read on to see what the fuss is all about, and then sign-up to run a half this year!

Chicago_Half_Marathon

Half Marathon: Far, But Not Too Far

Many distance runners like the half marathon because they can recover quickly and race more often than they could at longer distances. The training required to complete a half marathon isn’t too overwhelming or time-consuming. For many 5K finishers, this is a logical next step in their progression as runners.

Here’s what some runners had to say about why the half is America’s most popular race:

why the half marathon is so popular

half marathon popular race distance in USA

half marathon popular race distance in USA

Half Marathon: Still Time for Life Outside Running

For every marathon finisher last year, four people finished a half marathon. Many runners I reached out to, told me that for a busy person, the half just makes more sense than longer race distances. Runners can train properly without compromising family time or job responsibilities.

most of the finishers in the half marathon are women

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In 2014, the typical Half Marathon runner was a 36 year-old woman Click To Tweet

Half Marathon: The Gateway to the Marathon

For many recreational runners, the half marathon is an introduction to more serious running. The training routines, long run endurance, and specific running knowledge one gains by running a half marathon often leads to a marathon lottery entry.

half marathon to marathon

half marathon to marathon

half marathon to marathon

Half Marathon: It’s a 13.1 Mile Party

Running a half marathon is a great way to discover a new city. Many runners plan destination races or ‘racecation‘ getaways to exotic locations. With medals, t-shirts, live music and beer tents at many of the more popular half marathons, this race has truly become a party destination for many runners. Cheers!

half marathons travel party

half marathons travel party

4 thoughts on “Why Runners Love the Half Marathon

  1. I love the half marathon (I even wrote a post once about why it was the perfect distance 🙂 ). For all the reasons that you mention. I always feel that I can go out and finish (not race) a half at the drop of a hat (well, pretty much), unlike the marathon, which takes months to prepare for.

  2. For runners with propensity for injury at longer distances, the half allows a goal without the accompanying stress from the constant longer runs. I’ve just returned, after five years, to attempting half marathon; what’s also interesting is that 10k times increase with the training: an added bonus!

  3. I noticed, from reviewing my training journal, that I’m prone to foot injuries if I run 30 + miles a week, so I try to keep it less than 28 miles a week. This makes it kinda of hard to train for a marathon and the recovery time is so much shorter for the half marathon. I remember it taking me 3 days before I could comfortably walk down the stairs after running my last marathon.

Thoughts?