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 Half-Marathons Surge In Popularity
Submitted by Rickshaw :: Wed Apr 05, 2006 12:42 pm
The marathon's little brother has finally grown up. Around the world, the half-marathon is becoming the distance of choice for many runners, eclipsing the marathon in participation and popularity. Last week's Martian Marathon in Michigan had almost four half-marathon runners for every marathon runner, and stand-alone half-marathon events are more popular than ever. Last year's Indianapolis Mini Half-Marathon drew more than 25,000 runners to the 13.1 mile party. And what's not to like about the half-marathon? It can be a stepping stone to a full marathon, or a major goal in itself, while avoiding much of the demanding training and long recovery typical of a marathon. Athletes who enjoy collecting race souvenirs can still earn a T-shirt and a medal. Judging by half-marathon participation trends, runners have already voted with their feet.

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: Half-Marathons Surge In Popularity Posted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:27 pm 

I think it's great that half-marathons have become so popular, and I agree that they're a really enjoyable distance...especially for someone like me who is perhaps better endowed with endurance than with speed. But I don't like the trend of making them a part of marathons. They should be put on as stand-alone events. Running a half doesn't require nearly the training dedication, and when you come right down to it they don't bring on nearly the level of physical and mental suffering that running a full marathon does. The only time I've ever run a half that was taking place within the context of a full marathon, and they gave me the same t-shirt as the marathon runners and a medal (albeit different from the marathon runners' medals), I was kind of embarassed because I knew what I'd accomplished didn't come close to measuring up to what the full marathon runners were doing that day.


South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Half-Marathons Surge In Popularity Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:47 am 

I agree, but mostly because as a marathon runner it's frustrating to see the half-marathon people wiz past me. It helps when the half-marathoners or relay runners wear different colored Bibs so you can tell them apart. So before I try to grab onto someone's heels and have them pace me I check their Bib color. The last thing I need is to run mile 13 a minute faster than my goal pace because the person I'm following decided to push harder to his/her half-marathon finish.

But then again, there have been times I've found myself passing a half-marathoner or relay runner and it gave me a little boost to know I'm more fit than that person.

As for the T-shirt and medal; I don't mind too much if they are the same. I just want my Bib (the thing people see most after a race) to show that I was a marathon runner. I don't want people to mistakenly think I'm grimacing and staggering after having only run a half-marathon or 6 mile relay leg.

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Half-Marathons Surge In Popularity Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:31 am 

I felt exactly the same way after my first half-marathon, which was run concurrently with a full marathon. It was like I'd cheated somehow, or offended the full marathoners. But now that I've been in the opposite situation many times, I don't mind the half-marathoners at all. If some spectator is confused and thinks I ran a half instead of a full, let him. I know what I did.

The only exception is when the introduction of a half-marathon actually interferes with the full marathon. Usually that's not the case, but at the Des Moines marathon in 2004 it was a concern. Normally the half course is the first or second half of the full course. But in this case, the half had the same start and finish as the full, but a different middle. That meant that as you came into mile 25 of your marathon, you'd run into folks at mile 12 of the half who were walking and getting in your way. In practice I don't think it proved to be a problem, but I remember being concerned about it at the time.

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