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The Austin Marathon

The Austin Marathon has been held in Austin since 1992, when 605 registrants signed up for the first ever running of the race. Since then, the race has seen its shares of highs and lows. From being mentioned as a top destination race in Bart Yasso's 2009 book "My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon," to seeing the amount of finishers steadily decline since 2011. The race itself is also full of highs and lows, as it is a notoriously hilly course. Another factor playing into the race is the unpredictable weather in Texas, even in the winter month of February when the race is typically held. I sat out to look at the numbers to see if I could unlock any patterns that might help address some of these potential issues, and hopefully try to pass them along to the race production company, High Five Events.

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Below is a chart of the amount of finishers, separated by Males and Females, of the Austin Marathon since 2011. The progression downwards is somewhat startling. This data was taken from the race results available on the Austin Marathon website.

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The Interview

High Five Events took over the production of the Austin Marathon in 2016, and took over complete ownership of the race in 2017. I sat down with Scott Moore, Site Director at High Five Events, to discuss how different factors such as heat, humidity, and the course can play a part in determining both the amount of registrations and finishers, the times of the runners, as well as the logistics of putting on the event. You can see the full interview below:

Below is a chart showing the average of the top times of the finishers compared to the temperatures on race day. Since these are the elite racers, heat may not have been as big a factor as I initially thought it would be. Humidity may also play a big part. Eventually I hope to do some additional research into the data to see if the outcomes reveal a bigger story.

Does humidity affect performance? Based on my discussion with Scott and my personal experience as a runner, I believed humidity may play an even bigger role in fluctuating times (and potentially fluctuating attendance and/or amount of finishers) then just looking at the temperatures of race day alone. Check out the Male & Female results below compared to the humidity of the different race days since 2011:

The 2011 Austin Marathon Results

2011 had the most finishers of all the years I looked at for data. Below, you can filter the data based on the times that runners finished. My thought was that High Five could potentially study these results to see who their target demographic might be to help grow the race back to its former amount of finishers. Check out the different groups by using the dropdown list below:

Total Finishers:

PlaceBibNameCityStateAgeGenderTimeGroup

The course for the Austin Marathon takes runners all over the city. Beginning downtown, the course takes runners down (or rather up, as this is the first long hill of the course) South Congress avenue and then back north down South First street. The course then heads West, where the notorious hills of Exposition await. Once North, the course begins heading back East, before heading South again towards the Hyde Park area. The course ends back in downtown.

Elevation

There have been rumors that the new production company, High Five Events, may be considering making changes to the race course in the future. The elevation changes throughout the hills of the Austin area are clearly evident in the image below:

High Five Events

High Five now puts on the Austin Marathon, 3M Half Marathon, Cap 10k and other racing events in and around Austin. Check them out for more information on upcoming races and ways you can volunteer!

High Five Events »

Additional Info

To learn more about this project and others like it, visit The Coding and Data Skills Website, presented by Cindy Royal.