The first ever mapping of global running participation of recreational runners, and the first large scale study of Irish runners, has been undertaken, showing that, amongst other things, across all distances, Irish runners are faster than those from the UK.

The study, based on 107.9 million race results from more than 70,000 race events from 1986 to 2019, took more than 8 months to complete which includes all 193 UN-countries.

Some key conclusions include:

For the first time in the history of running, there are more female than male runners in the World. In 2018, 50.24% of runners were female;

If we focus on the half marathon distance, female runners from Ireland (2:00:59) are faster than male runners from the USA (2:02:53), and 5 other countries (times are the average marathon finish time); 

Ireland ranks as the 5th fastest country in the World compared to all 193 UN countries on the half marathon distance.

Runners have never been slower – male runners in particular. In 1986 the average finish time was 3:52:35, whereas today it's 4:32:49 – a slowdown of 40 minutes and 14 seconds. 

Event participation has declined by 13% since 2016, when it peaked with 9.1 million runners crossing the finish line. In Ireland, running is still growing – the last 5 years, the number of finishers has increased by 65%.

Runners have never been older aging from 35.2 in 1986 to 39.3 in 2018

Ireland's rankings compared to 193 countries:

Marathon – Overall: #23. Average time: 4:16:59 hours; Men: #12. Average time: 4:05:17 hours; Women: #26. Average time: 4:41:10 hours

Half marathon – Overall: #5. Average time: 1:52:54 hours; Men: #5. Average time: 1:46:22 hours; Women: #3. Average time: 2:00:59 hours.

5 kilometer – Overall: #12. Average time: 33:16 minutes; Men: #14. Average time: 29:46 minutes; Women: #13. Average time: 36:12 hours.

The State of Running 2019 – undertaken by Jens Jakob Andersen, statistician, Ivanka Nikolova, Ph.D. in mathematics and the International Association of Athletics Federations – can be viewed at