While competitive running has existed for thousands of years, there has been a surge in the sport's popularity within the United States during the last decade. Research shows that hundreds of thousands are lacing up running shoes to enter road races across the country.
Yet it's not just novices crowding the starting lines. More Americans than ever are challenging themselves with longer distance races such as a half marathon or full marathon. Training to run a continuous 26.2 miles-the length of a marathon-is no longer being categorized as an extreme sport. According to a report from Running USA, a nonprofit organization that promotes the running industry, the number of people who complete a marathon is up 47 percent since 2000. Marathons are now held in most major cities and can often turn into sell-out events.
Online retailer RunningShoes.com has unveiled an infographic that showcases this upswing in the number of runners and running events. "The Running Boom" infographic illustrates research from Running USA among other sources with data on race participation dating back to 1976. The numbers show a steady growth of marathon finishers with the biggest jump in 2009.
"Running is an incredibly contagious activity," said Chad Weinman, CEO of RunningShoes.com. "We've seen evidence of this within our own staff. Someone registers for a 5K, and the next thing you know, everybody else is signing up, too."
The visual representation of running research can be found on RunningShoes.com. Readers have been asked to share their opinion on why road races are more popular than ever at RunningShoes.com News or the RunningShoes.com Facebook Page.