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 the Covered Bridges Half Marathon in 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."
I know that's been true for me for a while. I've only run a couple successful marathons, but I've probably run a dozen half marathons in the last 20 years and they've all been good. They're well organized, because they have to be set up like a marathon is set up. They are serious races, but they're also just a lot of fun. And sometimes part of that fun doesn't have anything to do with the actual race, it has to do with the overall journey. Last Sunday, after I finished the Covered Bridges Half Marathon, I returned to the Applebutter Inn where we were staying and there was a barbershop quartet practicing in the living room.
That was a nice punctuation mark on an experience I'll never forget, but hope to repeat next year when the Covered Bridges Half Marathon celebrates its 25th anniversary. Don't tell anyone, but registration for the 2016 race opens later this year, December 7. The race usually fills up in minutes.
This segment aired on June 12, 2015.