Running USA: The Growth of Women’s Running

Running USA’s State of the Sport Series
2012 State of the Sport – Part I: Growth of Women’s Running

Title IX, women’s running has come a “long way” and is now a driving
force in Second Running Boom and running industry growth; Women’s
National Runner Survey released

SPRINGS, Colo. – (May 9, 2012) – With more than 7 million female U.S.
road race finishers in 2011, a record high according to Running USA,
it’s difficult to imagine that just 40 years ago running was not widely
considered an appropriate sport for women. The longest distance women
were allowed to run in the 1960 Rome Olympics was just 800 meters, and
later, until the marathon and 3000 meters were added at the 1984 Los
Angeles Games, the 1500 meters. At organized road races, females often
ran unofficially or faced being expelled or prevented from running at
the starting line. Fast forward 40 years, and things are radically
different. The 2012 State of the Sport – Part I: Growth of Women’s Running examines the statistics and trends on women’s running today in the United States.


The Not-So Distant Past
In 1967, Kathrine Switzer
registered and received a bib number for the famed Boston Marathon
using only her initials, K.V. and last name, and during the race,
official Jock Semple infamously tried to shove her off the
course. The worldwide story led to an outcry for gender equity and
pushed decision-makers for official inclusion of women in organized
races. As gender and culture roles evolved in the U.S. from 1960-80,
long distance running became part of this larger revolution.

In April, the Boston Marathon honored the women’s class of 1972, which
included nine runners who were “officially” entered to run in the
Boston Marathon. Since those nine entries and groundbreaking Title IX
legislation that was passed on June 23, 1972, women’s participation in
long-distance events has grown and later boomed, with female runners
now accounting for more than 53% of event finishers nationwide compared
to less than 20% of finishers during the 1970s First Running Boom. For
the 2012 Boston Marathon, 42% of the entrants were women (11,152 out of


For the rest of the 2012 State of the Sport – Part I, CLICK here.



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