Marathon running gaining popularity around campus

Statistics show a growing national participation in marathon and half marathon running, and university students are no exception to the craze.

Marathon directory Marathonguide.com reported that, in 2009, there were about 468,000 marathon finishes in the United States. The site reported this was about a 10 percent increase from 2008.

Will Hopper, a freshman business major, said he is running the full, 26.2-mile Fort Worth Cowtown Marathon at the end of the month. Hopper said he noticed running marathons and half marathons has gained popularity with students by the number of people that approach him on a regular basis asking if he is running the Cowtown Marathon.

Hopper said he has been training with four friends for the Cowtown since November and is excited his friends and family are getting involved with running. Even his older brother, who used to hate running, now trains with him during the week, he said.

Cowtown Marathon executive director Heidi Swartz said there are five times as many registered runners than there were this time last year. She said this is in line with an estimated 30 percent increase in race registration nationwide in the past few months.

Swartz said it is likely that running has been gaining more popularity because people have become more concerned with their health.

“With the economy, they are thinking about how they can stay healthy,” Swartz said. “So, a lot of people have the mind-set to get fit.”

Hopper said he thinks running has made him a lot healthier because of his training schedule and self-imposed healthy eating habits. He said running also appeals to him because it helps him escape the daily stresses of college life.

“It’s kind of like a chance to get away from like the constant meetings, class, all that,” Hopper said.

Whitney Freeman, a senior nursing major, said she also plans to compete in the Cowtown Marathon. She said she also looks to running as a way to relieve stress.

“It also gives me lots of time to throw on my headphones, listen to fun music and just go for a run,” Freeman said.

Freeman said she chooses to compete in races because it gives her motivation to work for and accomplish a specific goal.

“You have such a great sense of accomplishment in what you’ve done because you’ve trained so hard for that one thing,” Freeman said. “You know it’s more valuable than just going on light runs here and there.”

Both Hopper and Freeman said they hoped to continue running competitively after completing the Cowtown Marathon.