Most races that I run are on Sundays and I used to think that most races were on Sunday. For me Saturday races are a nice change of pace. I decided to see how many races are run on each weekend day and write about why I love Saturday races.
Why I Love Saturday Races
I love Saturday races because I can relax on Sunday. Traveling to a race and running it can be quite exhausting.
For a 5K or 10K it’s not too bad, even with a long drive. A Half or full Marathon can consume a full day.
It’s not unusual to travel 30 minutes to an hour for a race. Because most races start at 9:00 or 10:00 AM you have to get up early, get into hustle mode and get on the road.
For a 9:00 AM race it’s not unusual for me to get up at 6:00 AM. There goes a nice lazy morning and a little extra weekend sleep.
I love Saturday races because I can sleep in on Sunday.
When I race I almost always go in 100%. This means near complete exhaustion after the race. For a 5K or 10K the recovery is usually pretty quick. For a half or full marathon it can take a day or two to fully recover. For a marathon it’s not unusual to take a week to get back to normal.
I love Saturday races because I have Sunday to recover. Monday can still be challenging, but having a full day to relax and recover makes those Mondays much easier.
I love Saturday races because I feel like I have accomplished something. How many times have you gone back to work on Monday and felt like you did nothing all weekend? That it was a total waste of time.
When I run on Saturday I always have this feeling that I’ve done something great this weekend. It may be a runner’s high, but I get to enjoy that feeling of well being all Sunday.
Running any race is an accomplishment and especially so if you gave it your all and had a good time. There’s not much better than that!
What Saturday Races?
Since most races that I sign up for are on Sunday, it was my observation that few races occurred on Saturdays.
I only had anecdotal evidence that helped me develop my own notion of reality. But this is how I arrived at this conclusion:
Traffic is lighter on Sunday, so it is safer for runners. Many races do not close roads, so less traffic means greater safety.
Most children’s activities are on Saturday. My kids had soccer games almost every Saturday in the spring and fall. When they were younger they had dance classes. Many kids also swim, do martial arts, music, art or theater on Saturday.
Parents are too busy on Saturday to sign up for races. Race demographics do show that under 40 females make up a large portion of runners. Whiles dads are more involved with their children these days, moms still do most of the child care and many dads go to their children’s events with their wives.
To draw more young parents and enhance safety, I assumed race organizers held most of their races on Sunday.
I was wrong.
Saturday Races are Popular
I did some research to get some facts and test my theory. I went to runningintheusa.com and checked the numbers for a few states.
I looked at the three states I race in the most, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Then I added in the top seven states for total number of races. The list is in no particular order.
I was shocked to see that in the states I run in most often there are more races on Saturday than Sunday.
Then I looked at marathons in these three states. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, more marathons are held on Sunday, in Vermont they are split evenly.
Then I looked at marathons held in the top seven states. In four of them, more marathons are held on Sunday than Saturday.
Why more marathons on Sunday?
With the data at my finger tips it is hard to say definitively. It may be the safety issue with less traffic on Sunday. Getting permits to close roads may be easier on Sundays. Perhaps all of the timing companies are busy managing shorter races on Saturday?
A marathon is a big undertaking. For race organizers the logistics can be enormous. There is equipment and volunteers to get into place. Often a large area needs to be taken over for base camp and this can be disruptive to businesses on Saturday.
It may be easier to get volunteers and permits on a Sunday.
While Massachusetts holds 1952 running events, we only have 16 marathons. That means we often have to travel a bit to get to our races. Many runners like to travel the day before a big race and get a good night’s sleep. Having a marathon on Sunday makes this easier to do.
Most marathons also have an expo and runner’s dinner. The vendors want the runners to have time to shop. Race dinners can be a lot of fun. Rushing to get to a dinner Friday night after work may not seem worth it to many. A nice leisurely dinner with fellow runners on a Saturday night is a great time.
Why more races on Saturday?
Looking at the three southern states on my list, Texas, Florida and Georgia, around 80% of all races are held on Saturday. I can only speculate that this is due to church attendance on Sundays.
In the New England states and California about 40 to 50% of races are held on Saturdays: a much more even split. It may come down to logistics in these states.
Facts is Facts
As a friend’s father used to say to us, Facts is Facts. He meant that the numbers don’t lie, they are what they are.
My theory that most races are on Sunday has been dis-proven by the facts.
This was a casual review of a few states and I’m sure that a more academic review would reveal some interesting insights. It would be interesting to see if marathons break the pattern in a majority of states.
As “Myth Busters” used to say. “Myth Busted!”
Do you prefer to run on Saturday or Sunday? Do you prefer to run marathons and halfs on Saturday or Sunday?
Run well my Friends!