Now that the 2012 Cork City Marathon is over, it's time to do a bit of number crunching and to have a look at some stats.
As for the Relay numbers, they are far from steady. After showing steady growth for the the first three years, it seemed to flatten out in 2010. In the last two years, it has been declining and this year was the lowest with 570 teams. It's probably no coincidence that the decline in the relay numbers has coincided with the introduction of the Half-Marathon. Still though, the Relay runners are the largest block with somewhere in the region of 2,000 to 2,300 people taking part in it.
In 2011, there was a limit of 1,000 entries for the Half. This restriction was eased this year and 1,508 turned out. Taking the numbers for the full, half and relay together then roughly 5,000 to 5,200 people took part in the 2012 Cork City Marathon as a whole.
Times......As for times, I broke the number of finishers into 10 minute blocks and plotted this graph. (This shows the number of runners finishing in a ten minute period. For example, the 100 mark means that 100 runners finished in 10 minutes...or at a rate of 10 per minute or one every 6 seconds).
What's also interesting is that if you were to look at the average finishing time for a Marathon in the USA, it's about 4:30. Looking at the graph above, you can see that the average Marathon runner in Cork is over 30 minutes faster than their US counterparts! (*See below)
What the graph also shows is that the average Marathon runner is faster than a combined team of Relay runners! Looking at the graph above, I'd suggest perhaps that the average person now doing the relay is probably not a club or a regular runner....or at least, they are not doing much mileage on a regular basis. Running 4 to 6 miles might be the limit for a lot of them and they may have trained just for this event.
The peak in finishing times is roughly 1:55. Again when compared to the USA, it's well ahead of the 2:11 average finishing time there (* See below).
If we look at the gender balance for the Half and Full Marathon, we get the following picture...
The percentage of women taking part in the Cork City Half-Marathon was a lot higher at 44.5%. (Compared to 59% in the US!!). Again, this may the main reason why times here are faster.
Obviously the graphs above are a bit rough but there is a lot of information in them. For example, they can be used to find out where the concentration of runners are out along the course....when are the water stations likely to be at their busiest?....what the effect of changing the Half-Marathon time might be? For example, if the Half was to start just a few minutes late then the peak of runners from each race would merge on the Marina where the road is very narrow.
Future.......So can we use the info to predict anything?
For the Marathon, it seems likely that the number turning up next year will be around 1,400 again. IF the numbers are limited by the available catchment area then an obvious growth path is to encourage more women to take part in the full Marathon race. Compared to the US participation levels, the percentage of women is almost half here so this is an obvious growth path.
For the Half-Marathon, this is the one race where the growth prospects are the best. Looking at other races where there is a full and half option available, the Half-Marathon is often three times bigger. Could the Cork City Half-Marathon attract ~4,000 runners? I have my doubts but it should certainly be able to attract a lot more than the current 1,500. Whether there is enough capacity for the larger numbers is another issue.
As for the Relay event, it seems likely to be mainly of interest to beginners or very occasional runners in the future. Despite falling from roughly 4,000 entrants in 2010 to roughly 2,000 in 2012, it's still the largest group. It's hard to see how the numbers will ever recover again though.
Conclusion........I think perhaps that when the idea of introducing the Half was first thought
of, it might have seemed like it was a good way of attracting more runners
to the event overall. I don't know if the organisers expected it to eat
into the Relay numbers as much as it did.
Surely one of the main reasons for any City Marathon is to attract tourists into the region. The Relay event will never do that but a Half and Full Marathon combination might. If the Cork City Marathon is to grow and thrive in the future then the Half-Marathon will have to be expanded.