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Dr. J. on Running

Running in Numbers

All is Well

Published March 5, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Running is alive and well, judging by the numbers that fill our mailboxes from an increasing number of electronic sources.

According to American Sports Data, 34,047,000 Americans ran one or more days last year. Their average age was 27.1 years. Of those runners 9,821,000 have incomes greater than $75,000. Furthermore, 10 million Americans described themselves as frequent runners, running more than 100 days per year, and more than 3 million of them had incomes greater than $75,000.

The Road Runners Club of America conducted an on-line survey of its web site viewers. The demographics of the June 2000 survey revealed an average age of 37.3, with 68.3 percent male and 31.7 percent female. On the education front, 43.7 percent held graduate or professional degrees, another 45.8 percent had college degrees. Their average household income was $62,000 per year, and 71.8 percent owned a home. They purchased 3.02 pairs of running shoes per year, and 58.2 percent of them accessed the Internet from home.

Data from the National Federation of State High Schools indicated that running was the most popular participation sport among high school athletes in the U.S. During the 1997-98 school year, 468,061 boys and 393,946 girls ran outdoor track, while 174,599 boys and 145,624 girls ran cross-country.

At the collegiate level, men and women participated in record numbers in cross-country and track and field during the 1998-99 seasons. NCAA data showed that 10,935 men and 12,042 women ran cross-country, 16,943 men and 18,220 women competed in indoor track, and 20,401 men and 13,194 women competed in outdoor track.

In 1999, USA Track & Field sanctioned more than 12,000 running events for 7.1 million participants, making running the most popular participation sport in the country. USATF estimated that there were more than 50 million adult runners in the country. California led the nation with 3,905,000 runners, followed by Texas with 2,606,000 and New York with 2,332,000.

The demand for information about running provided secondary data on the level of interest in running and competition. Runners' World and Running Times magazines boasted circulation of 451,000 and 80,000 subscribers, respectively.

Track and Field News, also published monthly, has been the 'Bible of the Sport' since its founding in 1948 by Bert & Cordner Nelson. The magazine enjoys an audience of track coaches, athletes, officials and fans with an international circulation to more than 80 countries. Its companion web site boasted more than 500,000 hits per month as of July 2000.

Syracuse-based TrackMeets.com, the only web site to broadcast live track meets and road races on the Internet in near-TV quality video, received 7 million hits in 2000, and reached 840,000 hits last month alone.

Participation in road races also increased. San Francisco's Bay to Breaker 12K led the pack with 53,023 runners, followed by Atlanta's Peachtree 10K with about 50,000 and Spokane's Bloomsday 12K with 47,215. Marathons remained popular, with New York City leading the way with 31,785 runners, followed by Chicago with 24,604, Honolulu with 21,211, Los Angeles with 16,827 and the Marine Corps with 14,278.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at jabbour@syr.edu.


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