RunnerClick, the online community dedicated to running, has come out with what it describes as the “largest recreational marathon research study,” spanning 39 countries. Among the findings was that the U.S. has the highest proportion of female runners, making it the most gender equal country (45 percent female), followed by Canada (40 percent female). Greece is the worse in terms of female participation with 90 percent male and 10 percent female.

Another surprising finding was that the 90-99 year-old age group is the fastest growing, increasing 39 percent from 2014 to 2017. Other findings include the 40-49 year-old age group holds that fastest average runtime (and is the most populous), and Slovenia, Iceland and Ukraine boast the fastest average times globally.

A breakdown of some of the standout data can be found below.

Peak age performance and gender participation:

  • The fastest age group for men is 40-49 years of age while the fastest age group for women is 20-29 years of age.
  • The countries with the highest proportion of women runners are the U.S. at 45 percent and Canada at 40 percent.
  • Greece is the worse in terms of gender equality with 90 percent male, and 10 percent female runners.
  • Ukraine had the largest increase for both men, +394 percent, and women, +383 percent participation.
  • Turkey had the biggest decline for men at -60 percent; Turkey also had the biggest decline for women at -79 percent.


Staggering growth in older adult participation:

  • Age group 90-99 had the highest growth in participation at 41.36 percent in 2015.
  • Age group 90-99 also had the highest overall growth in participation from 2014-2017 with an increase of 38.74 percent.
  • Age group 20-29 had the highest decline.
  • Age group 40-49 is most popular in all continents except North America.
  • Age group 40-49 and 30-39 make up more than 60 percent of marathon runners.


Age group and countries that are the fastest:

  • Age group 40-49 years old ranks as the most popular age group in 29 countries, and it is also the age group that produces the fastest run times.
  • Iceland, Slovenia, and Ukraine landed in the top three fastest nations for men.
  • Ukraine and Slovenia held strong average times for women.


Where are the most popular marathons, and which marathon has the fastest runners?

  • North America makes up about 50 percent of the worlds marathon runners with Boston, Chicago, and New York being the most popular marathons in the U.S.
  • In Europe, Berlin and London are the most popular marathons.
  • The marathon that averages the fastest runtimes out of those above mentioned ‘most popular’ races (in the U.S. and Europe) was the Boston Marathon, with an average runtime of 3:56:17.

The data analyzed was made up of 3.5 million race records from 196 marathons between the years 2014-2017 spanning 238 nationalities across 39 countries. The research was conducted by research specialists and data scientists, and was commissioned by RunnerClick, an online resource for reviews and help-content for running and other activities. The full research results including graphs and comprehensive data findings, as well as the research methodology, can be found here.

Image courtesy RunnerClick