State of the Sport Part IV: Largest U.S. Road Races for 2007

08/29/2008 - 06:29

August 29, 2008 from (California) Since 1986, Running USA's Road Running Information Center (RRIC) has compiled the largest road race rankings and an examination of its 1987 lists vs. its 2007 lists provides a snapshot of the sport's growth at the top end. For example, in 1987, the 100th largest U.S. road race had 2,610 finishers and by 2007, it took nearly 5,000 timed finishers to reach the 100th spot. Overall, the total of the 100 U.S. largest road races in 1987 equaled 687,955 finishers vs. 1,100,746 timed finishers in 2007 or in other words, a 60% finisher increase in the Top 100 total since 1987.

The table below shows the largest road races by distance (1987 vs. 2007) and except for the 12K, the 2007 distance leader based on finishers was much - if not significantly - larger than the 1987 leader with the #1 half-marathon increasing nearly 6 times (as mentioned in State of the Sport Part III , the half-marathon is the fastest growing distance in the U.S.). Only two races - River Bank Run 25K and New York City Marathon - kept their #1 distance ranking from 1987.

Largest U.S. Road Race by Distance: 1987 vs. 2007
9,400E Manufacturer's Hanover #3, New York, NY
39,012E Race for the Cure, Washington, DC

8K / 5 Mile
18,500E Al's Run, Milwaukee, WI
23,688 LaSalle Bank Shamrock Shuffle, Chicago, IL

25,300E Crescent City Classic, New Orleans, LA
55,253E Peachtree Road Race, Atlanta, GA

72,500E Bay to Breakers, San Francisco, CA
40,362 Lilac Bloomsday, Spokane, WA

6,667 Cascade Run Off, Portland, OR
11,336 Gate River Run, Jacksonville, FL

10 Mile
3,545 Bobby Crim, Flint, MI
17,584 Army Ten-Miler, Washington, DC

1,648 Big Boy Classic, Wheeling, WV
3,921 Dam to Dam, Des Moines, IA

2,902 Old Kent River Bank Run, Grand Rapids, MI
4,833 Fifth Third River Bank Run, Grand Rapids, MI

5,038 Philadelphia Distance Run, Philadelphia, PA
29,213 OneAmerica 500 Festival, Indianapolis, IN

21,244 New York City, New York, NY
38,607 ING New York City, New York, NY

5,897 L'Eggs Mini Marathon 10K, New York, NY
10,789E St. Luke's Women's Fitness Celebration 5K, Boise, ID
E = estimated finisher total; complete results unavailable

Source: Running USA RRIC

In RRIC's largest road race lists by distance for 2007, there were several "firsts". For the first time, in the U.S., there were two 15Ks (Gate River and Utica Boilermaker) with more than 10,000 finishers; the popular half-marathon had nine races with more than 10,000 finishers and two - OneAmerica 500 Festival and P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona - with 20,000 plus finishers, while there were a record six marathons - ING New York (largest ever), LaSalle Bank Chicago, Honolulu, Marine Corps, Boston and City of Los Angeles - with more than 20,000 finishers.

"Festival" events - which were non-existent in 1987 - are also a driving force of the Second Running Boom, and in 2007, to be one of the Top 50 Festivals by size in the U.S., it took nearly 17,000 total finishers compared to 11,000 finishers in 1999 (a 55% increase).

To see where your favorite road races ranked in 2007 or what is #1 in the different largest road race categories - timed events, by distance, festivals overall, festivals by state, women-only races, world-wide and more, go to:

For Parts I-III of Running USA's 2008 State of the Sport series, go to:

RRIC = Running USA's Road Running Information Center. State of the Sport reports, many types of running data and lists of the Largest Races from past years can be found on in the "Statistics" section. For other questions about running trends and demographics, contact Ryan Lamppa [ ] or Linda Honikman [ ].

Copyright © 2018 Running Journal