Depending on who you ask, people who have completed a marathon make up anywhere between 0.1% and 2% of the world’s population. I had sort of dismissed that statistic as bunk and folklore until I stumbled upon this Web site, which has all sorts of interesting statistics about marathon finishes in the United States.
There were 382,000 marathon finishes in 2005. Guesstimating the U.S. population at 295 million in that year, it works out to about .13% (and you have to take into account that many of the people who finished were not first-time marathoners). These numbers are incredibly rough, but at the very least they don’t completely dispel the 0.1% statistic most often quoted by anyone who has ever run a marathon.
The site is worth a read, even if it does bang home how below average your own marathon time is (I’m part of the just 4.4 percent of marathon finishers to finish between six and six-and-a-half hours).
I dug up the site when asked “Are there more first time marathoners or authors who have published for the first time in any one given year?” Based on the N.Y. Times article I linked to earlier today, which said there are about 175,000 books published every year, my guess is that there are more first time marathoners than authors in any given year. I wasn’t able to find any conclusive stats, so the guess is based solely on the total number of marathon finishes versus books published and an assumption that first timers make up a relatively equal proportion of the people who do it between the two very different pursuits.
Now I’m wondering how many people do both for the first time in the same one-year period. Someone please commission a study, as my ego needs a stroking.
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