A recent article in Running Times quoted some statistics from Running USA about the growth of half marathons. In 1990, there were 303,000 finishers and the ratio was 75% male to 25% female finishers. In 2009, the finishers had grown to 1.1 million, and the ratio was now 43% male finishers to 57% female finishers. Apparently the gender flip (more women finishers) occurred in 2005.
Out of the 17,608 half marathon finishers at the Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon, 12,572 were women, a whopping 71%! Pretty amazing. For the full marathon, it was almost a 50/50 split. The half marathon is starting to sound more attractive for a number of reasons.
There are calculators online that will help predict finish times at various distances based on one of your recent races. One of them is here at marathonguide.com. Basically, you can plug in your finish time at a 5k and the calculator will spit out predicted finish times all the way up to the marathon. It assumes that you put in the necessary training and takes into account that you will run a slower pace at a longer distance. Obviously, the closer the distance you plug in, the more accurate the prediction.
After the half marathon, I plugged in my finish time to see what the predicted marathon finish would work out to be. It spit out a 3:51:36 marathon finish. But more interestingly (again, probably just to me) is that if I plug in the finish time I ran at the Carlsbad 5k in April, it spits out a half marathon finish time within a couple of seconds of what I ran in Seattle. I guess the thing is pretty accurate. I didn't even need to run the half marathon - I could have just plugged in the numbers and asked the race director for my medal.
On a side note, the half marathon was another well run event by the Rock n Roll folks. No complaints, other than the escalating costs of future events. The best part of the finish area was something sponsored by Nutrilite. They had a station where you could soak your weary feet in an ice bath. They had these plastic sleeves you put your feet in so your feet stayed dry and the ice bath could be reused. Oh, man it felt good on the weary feet. I have often imagined walking into the ocean after a marathon to numb my overworked muscles. This was the next best thing. If only it was a little deeper so you could get your whole legs in.
Oh, and if you are interested to see what the Seattle half marathon course looks like, here is a course preview video from the website.