Most races that I run are on Sundays. I used to think that the majority of races were run on Sunday, until I checked the facts.
Why I Love Saturday Races
I love Saturday races because on Sunday I can relax. After traveling to a race and then actually running it, it can be quite exhausting.
For a 5K or 10K it’s not so bad, even if there is a long drive involved. For a Half or full Marathon it can be a full day.
Even for a “local” race you often have to get up early. It’s not unusual to travel 30 minutes to an hour for a race. So you are up early and in hustle mode from the moment you wake up.
When I race I almost always go in 100%. For longer races this means near complete exhaustion after the race. Sure, I can catch my breath and walk around shortly after a race, but I am physically and mentally drained.
Having Sunday to recover from a long race makes Monday so 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.
What Saturday Races?
Over the years I’ve developed this idea that most races take place on Sunday. Most races that I signed up for were on Sunday. It made sense to me.
Traffic is lighter on Sunday, so it would be safer. Many people are running errands and even working on Saturday.
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.
I assumed race organizers held most of their races on Sunday to draw more young parents and because it is safer.
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 permission 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 other 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. I didn’t look at all 50 states, but only marathons break the pattern and then only in a few 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!