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New study reports more female than male runners for the first time ever

For the first time in history, there are more women than men on the roads

According to The State of Running 2019, a study done by RunRepeat.com, there are more female than male runners for the first time in history.

Photo: Maxine Gravina

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They report that in 2018, for the first time ever, 50.24 per cent of runners were female. Another interesting statistic is that women’s times have been improving since 2001, by an average of four minutes. Further to that point, women’s participation in running has grown 30 per cent since 1986. It’s pretty surprising that in 1986 women only accounted for roughly 20 per cent of the running population and in 1967, Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon while wearing an official race number.

Kathrine Switzer
Photo: Canadian Running

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With women’s running on the rise it’s no wonder that women’s-only races and running events have taken off. Canadian Running spoke with Rachel Cliff after she broke the Canadian marathon record in the spring at the Nagoya Marathon in Japan, the biggest women’s-only race in the world. “It felt amazing to be on the start line with 24,000 other women. As a female, you’re not used to being the most important part of a race, but at Nagoya we were.” Unsurprisingly, Asia is also the continent with the most rapid running growth at the moment.


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Canada ranks among the highest female participation in the world, with 57 per cent of Canadian runners being female. Iceland has the highest population of female runners at 59 per cent.

In this study, elite results were eliminated and recreational runners were examined. It was done in conjunction with the IAAF and presented in China in 2019.