Running a marathon: Is it dangerous?
June 13th, 2012


Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Running a marathon: Is it dangerous?

Here is a very interesting paper recently published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine about mortality among marathon runners in the USA between 2000 and 2009. Only 28 cases were found (6 women and 22 men), out of 3,718,336 marathoners. The death ratio has not changed from 2000 to 2009, despite a marked increase of runners completing a marathon event (299,018 in 2000 vs. 473,354 in 2009).

Can we say that running is probably safer than a sedentary lifestyle? :)

Enjoy your run!

Am J Sports Med. 2012 May 4.
Mortality Among Marathon Runners in the United States, 2000-2009.
Mathews SC, Narotsky DL, Bernholt DL, Vogt M, Hsieh YH, Pronovost PJ, Pham JC.

Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

As participation in marathon running has increased, there has also been concern regarding its safety.

To determine if the increase in marathon participation from 2000 to 2009 has affected mortality and overall performance.

Descriptive epidemiology study.

We used publicly available racing and news databases to analyze the number of marathon races, finishing race times, and deaths from 2000 to 2009 in marathons in the United States.

The total number of marathon finishers has increased over this decade from 299,018 in 2000 to 473,354 in 2009. The average overall marathon finishing time has remained unchanged from 2000 to 2009 (4:34:47 vs 4:35:28; P = .85). Of 3,718,336 total marathon participants over the 10-year study period, we identified 28 people (6 women and 22 men) who died during the marathon race and up to 24 hours after finishing. The overall, male, and female death rates for the 10-year period were 0.75 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.38-1.13), 0.98 (95% CI, 0.48-1.36), and 0.41 (95% CI, 0.21-0.79) deaths per 100,000 finishers, respectively. There was no change in the death rate during this time period for overall, male, or female groups (P = .860, .533, and .238, respectively). The median age among deaths was 41.5 years (interquartile range, 25.5 years). Fifty percent (14/28) of deaths occurred in participants less than 45 years old. Myocardial infarction/atherosclerotic heart disease caused 9 3% (13/14) of deaths in those 45 years and older. A variety of conditions caused death in younger racers, the most common being cardiac arrest not otherwise specified (21%, n = 3).

Participation in marathons has increased without any change in mortality or average overall performance from 2000 to 2009.


Blaise Dubois, PT, RCAMT, Sport Physio Diploma

95 Chemin du Brûlé, Lac Beauport (Qc), Canada, G3B 0P9
Phone : +1.418.907.8171