For the third consecutive year, a Running USA annual report–which looks at key statistics regarding sanctioned road races in the U.S.–found that participation in road race events has declined. An estimated 16,957,100 participants crossed a finish line in 2016, which is a one percent decrease from the 17,114,800 finishers in 2015.
Road running had experienced unprecedented growth from 1990 to 2013 in which the total number of finishers rose from five million to over 19 million. Growth peaked in 2013 (with 19,025,000 total finishers) and has seen a slight decline in numbers ever since.
The 5K remains the most popular race distance with 8.2 million–representing 49 percent– of all finishers. The half marathon accounts for 11 percent while the 10K is the third most popular distance at seven percent.
The total number of organized races in the U.S. increased slightly to 30,400 in 2016 but the number of large races–with 25,000 or more finishers–decreased (from 13 to 10). The 5K was the only distance to see an increase in the total number of finishers. The number of marathon finishers did not change whereas total 10K, half marathon and “other” distance finishers decreased by four percent or more.
Other interesting statistics include that 49 percent of all finishers fall into the 25 to 44-year-old age range and that 57 percent of all finishers in 2016 were female.