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Is 10K the best race distance?

It's the largest-growing race distance right now, and arguably the race that's doable for every kind of runner

The 10K is a meeting point for runners. It’s short enough that the track and middle distance folks can race over-distance without ruining themselves, and long enough that marathoners can use it as a tune-up race or speed work day. The 10K has also become popular with people who participate in various kinds of fitness activities, making it the most broadly accessible distance.

Yves Sikubwabo. Photo: Inge Johnson CRS.

Alan Brookes is the race director and president of Canada Running Series, and he says that the 10K is their biggest area of growth. “Our 10K events with Lululemon are on fire. The brand new Edmonton 10K in 2018 was capped at 5,000 and sold out in 13 hours, 27 minutes. We added a 10K to our Banque Scotia Montreal 21K last year for the first time, and it’s currently tracking 38 per cent higher over the same time last year in registrations.”

Kinsey Middleton and Alan Brooks after Middleton won the Canadian Marathon Championships. Photo: Maxine Gravina.

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Brookes says that the increase in interest is a combination of activation and experience. “Races that are providing an experience for runners are doing well. When you look at the biggest races in the world, they’re all doing well because they offer tremendous activation. People are willing to pay more for an experience.”


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The 10K can fit into the workout plan of almost any kind of runner. Brookes says the distance is a manageable challenge for most people. “The distance mixes strength work and speed work. Also, racing the 10K doesn’t require half-marathon or marathon mileage but still requires quite a bit of quality. And you can race the distance more often, instead of building up for months like in a marathon.”

Brookes even suggests that the 10K could replace the half-marathon as the most popular running distance. “For lots of runners, racing isn’t just about completion anymore, they’d like to go fast. Maybe breaking 40 minutes in the 10K could become a benchmark like breaking three hours in the marathon.”