Your Boston Marathon Experience

Your Boston Marathon Experience

I’d like to thank the 54 people who took the time to complete the survey. I know you are always being asked to fill out surveys and join mailing lists. If you are like me, you have little spare time to sort through your in-box and answer surveys.

Survey Results

First, the demographics. I looked at Running USA’s 2013 Annual Marathon Report to get some numbers for comparison. I had to combine Running USA’s male & female percentages and run a complex algorithm in my head to come up with my combined percentage by age group. It’s complex stuff. Their sample size was much larger than mine. I have no doubt that there were people 24 or younger and 75 or older that ran Boston. They just didn’t make it into my small sample.

AgeResponses%Running USA %
18-24008
25-341121.1530
35-442344.2331
45-54132521
55-6435.778
65-7423.852
75+000

In my survey the 35-44 age group, at 44%, has a much higher participation rate than the national average of 31%. The 45-54 bracket is also higher than the national average (25% v 21%). If my survey is representative of the entire 2014 Boston Marathon field, it looks like the Boston Marathon is for middle-aged folks with the 35-54 brackets consisting of over 73% of the field.

This may indicate that the expense of registering for and traveling to Boston deters younger runners from participating. Or it could be a sampling error.

The Running USA survey shows that female participation peeks in the 25-34 age bracket (35%), where male participation peeks in the 35-44 bracket where both sexes have a 31% participation rate. Male participation continues to trail off but at a slower rate than female participation as they age.

My survey has a Male/Female split of 55/45% and Running USA has a 57/43% split for all marathon finishers in 2013. The numbers are essentially the same.

Now for the fun stuff – survey answers

Combining questions 1 & 2:

For 14 runners, 2014 was their first Boston Marathon, for 3 runners Boston was their first marathon ever. I combined the results into the table below.

# of Marathons# of Boston
1st314
2nd611
3rd45
4th39
5th32
> 5148
> 10122
> 15*3
>204*
> 305*

For a lot of people this was their first or second Boston Marathon (14 & 11 respectively). I didn’t align my questions exactly, but this is for fun, not for science. While the experience with Boston skews to first or second running, the group as a whole is well seasoned. Fourteen people have run more than five marathons and twelve have run ten. Four people more than 20, and 5 people more than 30 marathons. Almost 65% of respondents have run 5 or more marathons.

Question 3 was, “What was your favorite part of the Boston Marathon?”

Marathon experience
Favorite part of Boston 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While no one favorited the pasta dinner,
32 people gave a shout out to the crowd/spectator support,
23 people said the best part was finishing and
21 people said the Boston Marathon Experience and Running The Boston Marathon were their favorite parts of the event.

I’ve never been to the pasta dinner. I hear it’s crowded and the food isn’t great. The BAA also assigns specific seating times. If you are there with friends, you probably won’t be able to eat together. Runners are a friendly crowd, but if I went I’d like to go with my running buddies.

Question 4 was, “Feelings about Heartbreak Hill”.

22 people said the crowd support was awesome, which is a good thing because that’s what it takes sometimes to get up that hill. Three people even said it was their favorite part of the race! Wow. One person even answered – That’s not a hill! I always say that with a Crocodile Dundee accent.

It was evenly split with 14 people saying, “I hate that hill!” and “No big deal”. Only 3 people said this was their first Boston. Everyone else had run this hill on race day at least once. The hill can be a harsh surprise for newbie’s. It can also be cruel to experienced and knowledgeable runners also.

Question 5 was, “Would you run another marathon?”

Only 4 people said “No”. 48 people said yes (20), “I want to run Boston again” (15) and 13 said they had already signed up for their next marathon.

Question 6 was, “What do you wish someone had told you about the Boston Marathon?”

Wish I knew before
Wish I knew before

 

This question drew twelve comments.

3 – Train more on down hills

3 – Felt prepared knew what to expect

2 – Train more in hot weather

One person each said that, they wish they knew there were porta potties near the corrals, that it could be so hot, bring more food, and leave the fuel belt at home.

Question 7 was, “What would you do differently next time?”

What I would do differently
What I would do differently

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No one said they would go to the pasta dinner! I’ve never been. Is it really that crowded or the food that bad? No one said they would go out faster, which is smart. 14 people said they would go out slower next time.

This question drew six comments:

“Not live in arctic weather patterns” – must be a New Englanda!

“Run Faster” – I think we’d all like to do that!

“Not run a 50 mile race two weeks before Boston” – agreed.

“I ran the exact race I planned to run the past two years” – very impressive.

“Not get injured the month before” – every runner’s nightmare. We all get a little crazy in the weeks leading up to the marathon. One night, as a car approached, I actually thought for a moment that it would be better to get hit by the approaching car than twist an ankle on the sidewalk. Ca-razy. I stopped running at night after that evening.

“Train in Florida” – sign me up. I ran in 2012 when it was 85°F. This year I think we hit 70°F. It was hot, but not in the biblical sense.

Questions 8, “Did you hit the Wall?”

24 – No – Smooth running the entire way

9 – Yes – at Mile 20

We received 19 responses on this one ranging from mile 6 to mile 24. 9 people hit the wall between miles 14 & 18, 6 people hit the wall between miles 21 & 24. The person who hit the wall at mile 6 had run Boston three times previously. I think the heat surprised a lot of us. We also had a cold and prolonged winter this year.

Questions 9 & 10 were the demographics we discussed in the first part of this article.

So there you have it. It’s been almost a month since the 2014 Boston Marathon. I hope everyone is recovered and looking forward to a long enjoyable summer of running.

Run well my friends!

Andy

© anagelin 2014

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Survey Results Am I a Runner Yet?

Survey Results

Last week I posted a survey asking if you felt like a runner, or a person who runs. If you keep at it long enough, running becomes part of your identity. It not only consumes your time but excites your imagination, hopes and dreams.

Becoming a runner sneaks up on you. In 2003 I naively signed up to run a marathon, having no clue what it was all about. Over the next few years I ran a few more marathons and then started to run 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons.

I joined a gym so I could use a treadmill in bad weather and also joined a running club. I’m pretty sure that anyone who knows me thinks of me as a runner. I really can’t go more than a few days without running before I get a little cranky. A friend of mine says that being able to control your pace and not always running as fast as you can defines you as a runner. I don’t quite meet his definition of a runner but, yeah, I do feel like I’m a runner.

15 people responded to the survey and this time that number does not include me! Everyone did not respond to all of the questions and multiple answers were allowed. Percentages are based on the number of people responding and not the number of answers. So the math may be a little kludgy.

When did you first feel like a runner?

Responses

%

The first time I put on a pair of running shoes

2

18.2

After I ran my first race

5

45.5

After I achieved my first goal

3

27.3

After I set a new PR

1

9.1

I still don’t feel like a runner

1

9.1

Total Responses

12

Four people left comments on when they first felt like a runner:

When running became a consistent part of my lifestyle and when I began to consciously adjust my pace for specific workouts.

I first felt like a runner, when in fourth grade I destroyed the rest of the class in a 600-yard run in gym class. Up until that point, I had felt like an athletic failure in every other conventional sport that is typically offered to children (baseball, basketball, football, etc.)

When I won my first medal

When I could not go more than 3 days without running.

 How many miles do you run per week when you are not training for a race?

Responses

%

Less than 10 miles

1

6.7

10 to 20 miles

4

26.7

20 to 30 miles

4

26.7

30 to 40 miles

4

26.7

Over 40 miles

2

13.3

Total Responses

15

10 out of 15 (66.6%) respondents run at least 20 miles per week and two runners maintain over 40 miles per week as their base mileage.  I’m in the 20-30 miles per week range.

Do you incorporate a long run into your training when you are not training for a race?

Responses

%

No

1

6.7

Yes, under 10 miles

5

33.3

Yes 10 to 15 miles

8

53.3

Yes, over 15 miles

1

6.7

Total Responses

15

Just about everyone (93.3%) incorporates some sort of long run into their base mileage program. This can be difficult to do on an ongoing bases because the process of preparing to run, running and then getting home and taking a shower etc can easily take several hours. I know this is an addiction, but congrats!

Do you run with a club, group or a friend?

Responses

%

I run with my local running club

8

61.5

I have a group of friends or colleagues I run with

3

23.1

I have a friend or friends that I run with

3

23.1

I run with my spouse

0

0

I run with the dog

2

15.4

Total Responses

16

So no one runs with their spouse? I don’t either but I wish I could. Besides the bonding that runners experience on those long runs, running together could add years to both of your lives.  I should have been clearer on the second answer. I meant to say “I have a group of friends or colleagues I run with at work.” I doubt anyone runs alone all of the time, but I should have given that option. Just in case. Since that wasn’t an option, I’d have to say this is a very social group!

Thanks to everyone who answered the survey, I hope it was fun. I hope everyone enjoys reading the results. As always, thank you for reading my blog.

©2012 anagelin