In some ways it’s easy to explain the growing popularity of the half marathon. It’s obviously not as long as the 26.2 mile race, but you feel a sense of accomplishment that’s similar to finishing a marathon when you cross the line after running half that distance. Last year for the first time ever in the U.S., more than 2 million people finished half marathons, according to survey out this month from Running USA. That survey also shows that among core runners nationwide, the half marathon (13.1 miles) is now the favorite distance.
“The half marathon has become like the 10K [6.2 miles] of yesteryear and there’s a lot more around,” says Mike Silverman, co-director of theCovered Bridges Half Marathonin Vermont. “You know it’s a little more challenging. So I think it’s the next step for the person in the 5K, the 10K. But right now it seems to be booming. The half marathon is where everybody is going towards.”