If Frank Shorter inspired the first running boom, Oprah inspired the second by running the Marine Corps Marathon. And it was a much bigger boom. This was not a spindly 24-year old Yalie gliding through Old World Munich. If Oprah could run a marathon, shame on anyone who couldn’t. Edward McClelland, author and journalist.
I read this quote the other day when flipping through 1,001 Pearls of Runners’ Wisdom, edited and introduced by Bill Katovsky (review soon). For some reason, this quote really struck me. How much truth could it hold?
Quite a lot, methinks. I mean, let’s face it, Oprah has made and broken many an author, actor, or stay-at-home-mom with an invention. So why not the marathon boom that we are experiencing these days?
Some joke that today’s marathon boom is the modern day mid-life crisis. I think there might be a little something to that, too. I can rattle off a half dozen people I know personally who picked up running out of nowhere as their 40th birthdays approached. Marathons have become bucket list items.
There’s also the Internet effect, the blog effect, the reality TV effect (again, if Biggest Loser contestants can run a marathon, can’t anyone?). There are lots of factors at play here, but here are the results:
- In 1980, there were 143,000 marathon finishers in the U.S.; in 2011, that number jumped to 518,000
- In 1980, the median age for male finishers was 34 and for female, 31; in 2011, the median male age was 39.9, the median female age was 38.4
I’m not making any kind of point here, other than it’s interesting to look into why the marathon has become such a popular distance in the past five to 10 years (the half marathon even more so). I’m sure there are many factors at play. The only question that begs to be answered is this–is the growth going to reach a plateau any time soon or will it continue for years to come. Thoughts?
And while we’re talking details, did you know you can win a copy of 1,001 Pearls of Runners’ Wisdom in the basket of great stuff I am raffling off to donors to my Team Fight fundraising campaign?
And did you know I am on Instagram now? If you are too, give me a follow (MissZippy1) and I’ll follow you back.
And (last one, I promise!) you can find me vlogging here on the FitFluential blog about how to use a jump rope to find your mid foot. Please go give the post some love!