Marathon Statistics

Posted April 3rd, 2007 in Running by davecopeland

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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6 Responses so far.

  1. Jake says:

    You’ve never seen Marathon Guide before? That site it great, I always use to see how my “rivals” have done at different races. Like, how did the other guys running 4:11 in Santa Clarita when it’s 85 do under better conditions. How many of the 4:28 runners at Catalina finished under 4 hours at a normal marathon. And so forth. They have stats up for 2006, too. Not too mention results for a ton of marathons since 2000. Did you know the median at the LA Marathon finished in about 5:37, while a mid-packer in San Diego crossed the line in about 5 hours? Hours of entertainment for the bored or marginally employed runner.

  2. stathis says:

    you need to hire a stathistician. i’m avalable after may 1.

  3. DAVE NEMCHICK says:



  4. [...] one percent of the population has finished a marathon. But there’s no credible source for it; three years ago I did some research into it and figured there’s a chance it was true, but I suspect at some point, if it hasn’t [...]

  5. [...] Running a marathon at times has seemed like such a great barrier to cross but in the end, only 2% of the worlds population has completed a 26.2 mile journey.  So here is my story, the story of a [...]

  6. [...] and what I aim to accomplish are not feats that just ANYONE pick up and do. In fact, according to Dave Copeland, “There were 382,000 marathon finishes in 2005. Guesstimating the U.S. population at 295 million [...]

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