Most participants do not run a marathon to win. More important for most runners is their personal finish time and their placement within their specific gender and age group, though some runners just want to finish. Strategies for completing a marathon include running the whole distance and a run-walk strategy. In 2005, the average marathon time in the U.S. was 4 hours 32 minutes 8 seconds for men, 5 hours 6 minutes 8 seconds for women.
A goal many runners aim for is to break certain time barriers. For example, recreational first-timers often try to run the marathon under four hours; more competitive runners may attempt to finish under three hours. Other benchmarks are the qualifying times for major marathons. The Boston Marathon, the oldest marathon in the United States, requires a qualifying time for all non-professional runners. The New York City Marathon also requires a qualifying time for guaranteed entry, at a pace slightly faster than Boston's.
Typically, there is a maximum allowed time of about six hours after which the marathon route is closed, although some larger marathons keep the course open considerably longer (eight hours or more). Many marathons around the world have such time limits by which all runners must have crossed the finish line. Anyone slower than the limit will be picked up by a sweeper bus. In many cases the marathon organizers are required to reopen the roads to the public so that traffic can return to normal.
With the growth in popularity of marathoning, many marathons across the United States and the world have been filling to capacity faster than ever before. When the Boston Marathon opened up registration for its 2011 running, the field capacity was filled within eight hours.
Read more about this topic: Marathon
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“Of the thirty-six stratagems, the best is running away.”
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