Are 10Ks Going the Way of the Buffalo?


The 10K. It’s been whispered as being the “holy trinity of distance training,” combining stamina, strength, and speed. It’s also been called a great “all-around” distance, meaning participants use it to amp up their 5K training or get closer to their first half marathons. It’s a lot of things, but the 10K race has been on our minds lately for a few important reasons.

Last week, we were very excited to renew our relationship with the historic Cooper River Bridge Run 10K (CRBR).  ACTIVE and CRBR have spent the past 15 consecutive years together, helping more than half a million people get over that finish line since 1999. Over 38,000 people registered for the April 2013 event, taking on a course that traverses the cities of Mount Pleasant and Charleston through an eight lane, 2.5 mile-long cable-stayed bridge. It’s also the only competition in the state that is sanctioned by USA Track and Field as an elite event.

It’s obvious this event is hugely popular and we love being part of it. But is CRBR the exception to the rule? Are 10Ks going the way of the buffalo? Not by a long shot.

According to Running USA’s 2012 Statistics, CRBR is the 5th largest U.S. road race (based on finishers). But the really interesting thing to note is that three of the top five largest U.S. road races are 10Ks: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race 10K is #1 with 58,000+ finishers and Dick’s Sporting Goods BolderBOULDER 10K is #2 with nearly 50,000 finishers.

In short, approximately 63% of finishers in the top five largest U.S. road races are 10Kers. That is A LOT of people doing 10Ks.

The next logical question is, are 10Ks growing in popularity? Or is it just the mystique of these big three 10K events that skews the numbers? Check out these 10K stats from Running USA’s 2013 State of the Sport – U.S. Race Trends:

  • The 10K is the 3rd most popular distance in the U.S. (behind the 5K and half marathon, respectively)
  • 9.5% of total 2012 U.S. road race finishers were 10Kers, a growth of 4% over 2011
  • 12% of total 2012 U.S. running events were 10Ks

The answer is that 10Ks are growing, albeit slower than the steadfast 5K or the sparkplug half marathon. As a race director, this means that there is a huge market for 10Kers. As we mentioned in the beginning, the 10K is a great all-around distance. You can market to 5Kers and half marathoners to get them interested in your 10K, or vice versa. Overall, we think the 10K is a distance to keep your eye on!

Learn more about the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K

SEE ALSO: 5 Road Race Trends You Should Know About