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Road running in a U.S. Air Force marathon
Road running in a U.S. Air Force marathon
People taking part in the Bristol Half Marathon
People taking part in the Bristol Half Marathon
Athletes at the start of a 10-mile race in Gloucestershire in England, UK in 1990.
Athletes at the start of a 10-mile race in Gloucestershire in England, UK in 1990.
The Dam tot Damloop is a road race from Amsterdam to Zaandam in the Netherlands
The Dam tot Damloop is a road race from Amsterdam to Zaandam in the Netherlands

Road running is the sport of running on a measured course over an established road (as opposed to track and field and cross country running).

These events are usually classified as long-distance according to athletics terminology, with races typically ranging from 5 kilometers to 42.2 kilometers in the marathon. They may involve large numbers of runners or wheelchair entrants. The four most common IAAF recognized distances for "road running" events are 5K runs, 10K runs, half marathons and marathons. The 5K road race event is the most common, due to its popularity for charity races and similar, less competitive reasons to hold an event. [1]

For many, changing the location of a run to the road can be a lucrative decision for different reasons. Road running may offer those involved a range of challenges and interests such as dealing with hills, sharp bends, varied surfaces, inclement weather, and involvement in a large group.[2]

As with anything, there are possible cons to running on the roads. The impact of running on roads puts more stress on the feet, knees and lower back than running on dirt or grass.[3] It can compensate by providing a consistent, level surface. It may put less strain on the Achilles tendon. Before engaging in road running, one should choose a shoe that best suits one's foot type and running style.[4]

Road running is one of several forms of road racing, which also include road bicycle racing and motor vehicle road racing.


In order to understand how road running works, it is important to recognize what it is and how it functions as the main governing body over all globally recognized road races. The IAAF is a governing body for athletes that regulates professional races. The IAAF aims to set the standards for competitions by ensuring that all participants are drug free and that all equipment used is legal.[5] The IAAF measures each course to ensure that it is the length that is stated to give it an IAAF certification rating and that the course is verified to be counted for different records or rankings. [6]


Race courses are usually held on the streets of major cities and towns, but can be on any road. The IAAF recognizes eleven common distances for road races that are eligible to be counted for records if they meet the eligible criteria: 5 kilometres (3.11 mi), 10 kilometres (6.2 mi), 15 kilometres (9.3 mi), 10 miles (16.09 km), 20 kilometres (12 mi), half marathon (21.0975 km or 13.1 mi), 25 kilometres (16 mi), 30 kilometres (19 mi), marathon (42.195 km or 26.2 mi), 50 kilometres (31 mi), and 100 kilometres (62 mi). The 24-hour run is also recognized. Of these, the 5K, 10K, 25K, 30K, half marathon, marathon, and 100K are distances that are recognized for world records.[7]

Some major events have unique distances. The "Round the Bays" run in Auckland, New Zealand is 8.4 kilometres (5.2 mi); the Falmouth Road Race in Falmouth, Cape Cod is 7.1 miles (11.4 km); the Manchester Road Race in Manchester, Connecticut is 4.75 miles (7.64 km); "City to Surf" in Sydney, Australia is 14 kilometres (8.7 mi); Honolulu's "Great Aloha Run" is 8.15 miles (13.12 km); the "King Island Imperial 20"[8] is 32 kilometres (20 mi) long; and the "Charleston Distance Run" in Charleston, West Virginia is 15 miles (24 km).

[9]Among the most common road races in the United States are:

  • Boston Marathon (Boston, MA)
  • New York City Marathon (New York, NY)
  • AJC Peachtree 10K (Atlanta, GA)
  • Memorial Day 10K (Boulder, CO)
  • Lilac Bloomsday Run (Spokane, WA)
  • Chicago Marathon (Chicago, IL)
  • Blue Cross Broad Street Run (Philadelphia, PA)
  • St Jude Half Marathon (Memphis, TN)
  • Lilac Run 10K (Rochester, NY)


Road running is a unique sport because of the ways that it separates itself from nearly every other athletic competition. In the sport of road running, you will find males competing side by side to women and professional runners competing in the same events as the average runner. In more prestigious races this is less likely to happen as there will be separate heats for men and women/ professional and nonprofessional athletes. In certain athletic events first time amateurs are welcome to participate in the same event as members of running clubs and even current world-class champions.


In order to record times for participants of road races, the founder of the race typically pays a timing company to electronically take times. Electronic timing companies utilize a technology called radio-frequency identification (RFID for short). RFID technology is then placed either in a disposable race bib, a shoe chip that is tied to shoelaces, or an ankle bracelet. RFID timing mats are then placed at the finish line of the race and as soon as the runner crosses over the line their time will be automatically recorded. This technology has developed overtime to be the most efficient form of recording multiple athlete times.[10]

Benefits of Road Running


Road running is recognizable for its diverse features. Anyone is welcome to participate in road running whether it be for recreational activity or for the purpose of competition. Running is an activity that attracts people from all over the world and for any age. For example, many road racing events recognize finishers in an age group system which acts as a way to reward younger or older athletes who may not be able to compete with runners in a prime age.


Road races are often community-wide events that highlight or raise money for an issue or project. In the US, Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure is held nationwide to raise breast cancer awareness. This race is also run in Germany, Italy and Puerto Rico. Similarly, Race for Life holds races throughout the UK to raise money for Cancer Research UK. First person "race reports" frequently appear on the Dead Runners Society electronic mailing list. Dublin, Ireland's Women's Mini-Marathon is said to be the largest all-female event of its kind in the world.[11]

Motivation to be Active

For many, competing in a local road race can be the motivation needed for individuals to pursue physical activity. In a study done by the bureau for labor statistics, road running ranked third in the most common form of sport and exercise activity for Americans.[12]

Physical Benefit

Running on the roads has a different effect on the muscles in the human body opposed to running on the treadmill. Treadmills are made to assist running form due to the way the belt pushes your legs back enhancing movement. Running on the road through various conditions such as hills will do more to strengthen glutes, hamstrings, quads, and smaller muscles in the legs.[13] Additionally, running on the road can help improve bone density as your body breaks down from impact and then regenerates itself.[14]

Governing body and international organisations

The international governing body for road racing is the IAAF. National governing bodies which are affiliated to the IAAF are responsible for road races held in their country. Of the thousands of road races held each year, 238 races, including some premier ones, are members of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS). Many race organizers (or the running clubs which conduct the races) are members of the Road Runners Club of America. In addition, the USA Track & Field plays a role in selecting representatives for certain international competitions under the Amateur Sports Act of 1978.

Competitors from around the world participate in what are dubbed the "elite" races for cash prizes. Kenyans and Ethiopians are renowned for their skill and it is rare for a race's top finishers not to include competitors from these countries. Elite level road running series include the World Marathon Majors, the Great Run series, and IAAF Road Race Label Events.

Main competitions

Marathon and half marathon events
Racewalking events

See also


  1. ^ "Most Popular Road Race Distances". SALTMARSH RUNNING. 2015-05-26. Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  2. ^ "Why You Should Take up Road Running / Fitness / Exercises". Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  3. ^ Lundblad, Mark (2011-11-14). "The Pros & Cons of Road Running vs. Trail Running". Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  4. ^ "Running: Learn the Facts and Risks of Jogging as Exercise". Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Track and Field: International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)". Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  6. ^ "Certified road events". Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  7. ^ "IAAF". Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  8. ^ "KING ISLAND IMPERIAL 20 - March 2008". Archived from the original on July 18, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-01.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  9. ^ Schuckies, Erica (2016-12-22). "The Biggest Running Races in the U.S." Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  10. ^ "Chip Timing vs Clock Gun Time: What's the difference?". RFID Insider. 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  11. ^ "About The Women's Mini Marathon". Archived from the original on March 11, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-22.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  12. ^ "Sports and exercise among Americans : The Economics Daily: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics". Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  13. ^ Mateo, Ashley (2019-09-13). "How Does Running on a Treadmill Compare to Running Outside?". Runner's World. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  14. ^ "Why Trail Running is the Best Exercise for Your Health". Core Running. 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2019-12-01.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 December 2019, at 02:57
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