Biggest Marathon Survey Finds Asia Leading Marathon Popularity Growth

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, April 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Running research center has completed the biggest marathon races survey, covering 2,195,588 results of global running competitions in a period from 2009 to 2014. It revealed that marathon running become more and more popular – worldwide average growth is +13.25%. Growth agents in terms of marathons popularity are women (+26.9% compared to men’s +7.9% growth of participation) and Asian countries (+92.43% from 2009 to 2014).
Chinese student Yao Baiyun ran the 118th Boston Marathon in April 2014(file photo).

Asia is a big surprise when it comes to runners’ engagement. A growth from 2009 to 2014 of +92.43%, both men (+90.40%) and women (+97.80%). China’s participation rate has increase 259.47%. In addition, India is picking up with a growth of 154.78%. The only Asian country in this research experiencing negative growth is South Korea (-21.88%).

Europe dominates in overall performance list with Span, Portugal and Iceland being the fastest nations in the world. From 2009 to 2014 there have been some changes in the performance. Some nations have become better while others worse. The nations that have improved the most are 1) Iceland (23:47 minutes faster), 2) Singapore (19:40 minutes faster) and 3) Denmark (16:30 minutes faster). China, Hong Kong and Ecuador are the nations that decreased the most in performance. Respectively, they became 33:38 minutes, 31:47 minutes and 19:48 minutes slower.

Few highlights on marathon’s popularity:

  • Surprisingly Europe’s interest rate is growing less than the rest of the world. Europe experienced an increase of runners’ amount only +10.30%.
  • The world average proportion of women marathon runners is 29.76%. Europe’s proportion of women is 21.99%, Northern America is 44.67%, South America is 26.26% and Asia is 27.86%.
  • Of the 401,582 marathon results recorded for USA, an amazing 181,319 were women. 45.15% of all American marathon runners are women. This is the highest proportion of women for any country listed in this analysis. USA is the most gender equal marathon nation.
  • Canada comes second with 44.42% women and then New Zealand 3rd with 43.96% women. Those three nations are significantly more gender equal than the rest of the world. 4th goes to Australia with 35.81% women.
  • The least amount of women runners are from Spain (only 6.41% of marathon runners are women). Portugal (8.13%) and Greece (9.84%) are also male dominant nations.

Few highlights on marathon’s performance:

  • Looking at the average finish time across continents you find Europe positioned first (4:18:41) closely followed by South America (4:20:32).
  • Europe is dominating per countries as well. With Spain, Portugal and Luxembourg as the fastest nations, it occupies first seven positions on the average performance list;
  • Canada comes in as the fastest non-European nation at a 8th with an average finish time of 4:04:29. Next non-European Nation is Israel positioned 16th and then the Russian Federation positioned 18th.
  • In terms of gender differences, fastest male are from Iceland (3:52:11), Luxembourg (3:52:40) and Canada (3:52:44). The slowest male nations are India (5:00:34), Philippines (4:57:53) and Japan (4:34:02).
  • For women, fastest marathon runners are from Iceland (4:18:29) followed by Canada (4:19:12) and Portugal (4:19:17), slowest ones – from India (5:27:04), Philippines (5:18:57) and Japan (4:54:34).

“This survey proves that sport now become more and more important to all nations over the globe, and overall results are improving with the fastest average finish time of 3:55:35 gained by Spain,” said Jens Jakob Andersen, leading researcher of

On is an independent running research center conducting surveys in area of marathons’ running. Mr. Jens Jakob Andersen is a former competitive runner. In his previous career, he taught statistics at Copenhagen Business School. Then Mr. Andersen has decided to dedicate himself to development of

On Marathon Popularity Across Nations Research 2015

Database of the survey covered 2,195,588 marathon races results from 2009 to 2014, which includes annual marathon races in Chicago, Marine, Boston, London, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Athens, Amsterdam, Budapest, Warsaw and Madrid. Only non-professional marathon participants are counted, representing real level of marathon sport engagement from every nation.