The Marathon Is Going Mainstream

I have been reading a number of articles over the past few weeks about the “mainstreaming of the marathon”. This article mentions it, this one does, as well as this one.

So what is driving marathon participation up? These articles talk about the usual health benefits, friendship, and the ability to raise money for whatever cause the particular run is organized for. As a result of this reading I began to wonder why I, at this time in my life, have decided to complete a marathon in July 2006. What is happening in the world today that has influenced me to take up the challenge at the same time record numbers of people are also signing up?

I believe that people are hearing the ever-increasing warnings of the perils of our North American lifestyle. Movies like Super Size Me and the countless articles in our newspapers talking about the rising trend of obesity has had a definite impact on people’s concern for their health. These runners want to be healthier. This is a huge reason I wanted to complete a marathon – I was worried that all the training that I have done over the past few months to lose 40+ pounds would be lost if I didn’t focus on new goals to complete a half and a full. Running has made me healthier and it would be very upsetting if I lost that.

I also believe that running is a sport that is very accessible. There are few “barriers to entry” – other than a good pair of shoes you don’t need much else to train. A person can run whenever it fits into their lifestyle. It can be done alone or with a partner. Our lives just keep on getting busier and busier and a sport like running can easily fit in with a little planning and some dedication.

It is for these reasons – worrying about poor health and the accessibility of running – that I think running has gone mainstream. Raising money for causes is a positive impact that I am glad is happening. What do you think is driving the increase in popularity?