There has been a recent running boom since about 2005. Between 2005-2013, the number of runners finishing a race has almost doubled, from about 10,000,000 finishers to just under 20,000,000 finishers. That is almost unbelievable. Also, as recently as 2005, men were still finishing more races than women (53%-47%). Women have now taken over and are finishing 57% of all races.
There are many theories on why the increase in finishers and why so many more women. In my view, the type of race has attracted more and more people. Races just used to be a race – you ran it, finished it and went home. Then some races had food after the race. Others had beer. There were races in which you drank beer during the race. But it was pretty much the same at least from 1982-2006 or so from the road races that I ran. Increasingly, more races have fun runs for the kids. There may be face painting, fun warmups, games, maybe a clown, etc. to keep them occupied while mom and/or dad are running the race.
The biggest change to me is in the themed race. Now you have all new obstacle course races (OCR) like a mud run, Your First Mud Run, Spartan, Warrior, Diva, Mudderella, Dirty Girl and Tough Mudder, all challenging people to their limits and creating teamwork and are mostly a lot of fun for most. Then there is the Zombie race series – zombies chase you as you run for your life. There is the Krispy Crème challenge – run 1/2 way, eat 12 donuts and run back….without emptying yourself in any way….. If you don’t like donuts, there is the Twinkie Run. There are Color Runs – as you run people throw colored dust on you and you finish with your own tie die shirt (and self) at the end. There are hot dog and corn dog challenges – leave those to your imagination.
There are also various clothes races….ahem. There is a nude race in Florida and, if that is too little for you, an undie race on Valentine’s Day in various locations. There are other more mainstream like mustache dashes, Run Disney, superhero runs, prom runs and a team tribal run. Finally there are electric runs, backlight runs and a slime run. The new Battle of the Sexes race pits men against the women for prizes only the winning team wins. With ALL these choices, it is no wonder that racing is up. In most cases, races are tied to a cause – so a local charity or school usually benefits. Good luck in making a choice!!