- Accessibility for runners. Kenyans have won 38 of 42 major marathons this fall. One of the poorest countries in the world produces some of the greatest athletes. To excel at the highest levels in this sport you do not need multimillion dollar facilities. It is a true come from behind sport. Sammy Wanjiru and Robert K. Cheruiyot both were very very poor and have since earned impressive pay outs for their very fast running.
- Accessibility to runners. While on a run at the Boulder Reservoir I met Jenny Barringer, multiple US record holder. While watching the US Womens Olympic Marathon Trials I met Ryan Hall. I went on a run with Nate Jenkins, World Championship Marathon team member. If you want to meet some of the best in the world, it really is not that hard. Most have email addresses publicly available.
- Easy statistics. There are only a handful of events that people run. For distance runners the 1500m, 1 mile, 3000m, 3000m steeplechase, 5000m, 10,000m, half marathon, and marathon are the main events that are all contested with world championships in track or road running. For example, take the marathon, there is a men's and women's world record, and each country has a national record, and each marathon course has a course record. That's it. Sure there are other distances, and people keep diligent track of intermediate splits during records, but the significance is in the total time.
- Significant physiological landmarks get broken and still exist. The four minute mile must be one of the truly great athletic achievements. People actually thought that if a person broke it they might die! Now there is the two hour marathon. We still have four minutes to go to get there which is a huge difference. Whoever breaks two hours first will become a multimillionaire.
- Requires little time, but accepts thousands of hours. If you simply want to follow the world of marathoning you could spend an hour a year reading results and yearly summaries and you would still understand who was doing what for the most part. On the other hand if you want to spend half an hour every day reading blogs and another half hour watching videos you could still focus entirely only on US professional runners.
- It is inexpensive. There are no ticket fees to watch marathons in person. Most major marathons are streamed live and free over the internet. Ticket prices to world class track meets will set you back less than $20, at least in this country.
- It encourages mass participation. You can enter the lottery and run the New York City Marathon with Haile Gebrselassie, the 2:03:59 marathon world record holder. You can not step onto the field with Bret Favre. For the more competitively inclined you can directly compare yourself to the world record holders. It is hard to compare that game of basketball you played with your friends to Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game.