Kansas City’s Rock the Parkway Half-Marathon and 5K is proof positive that today’s young professionals are into health and fitness in a big way. The number of registrants makes it clear that golf may well be taking a back seat as Corporate America’s favorite pastime.
Troy Fitzgerald with KC Running Company says registrations for Rock the Parkway are up significantly over last year — 66 percent for the half marathon and 33 percent for the 5K. “The demand for this race has exceeded our expectations,” he says. “We had no idea that in just three years, we would have 7,500 runners and be sold out. Rock the Parkway has quickly become the fastest growing and most popular race in Kansas City.”
The success of Rock the Parkway is on par with national trends. Marathon participation has skyrocketed over the past 30 years. In 2011, more than 500,000 Americans competed in marathons. And as this infographic by KT Tape shows, the demographics have shifted significantly. Women now make up 41 percent of race participants (compared to 10 percent in 1980), and the average age of male participants is 40 (up from 34 in 1980.)
It’s not just marathons attracting young professionals, but an overall trend toward more physical activity. The latest report from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association shows that nearly 2.3 million people worldwide competed in triathlons in 2010 — a 55 percent increase over 2009.
Chuck Menke, director-marketing and communications at USA Triathlon, says even C-level executives are flocking to sports that require more stamina. “People are going from the boardroom to their bike or pool, instead of the golf course,” Menke says.
So why are today’s professionals foregoing golf in favor of a more physically draining sport?
For Tara Torok, a Kansas City marketing professional who’s registered to run the Rock the Parkway half marathon, a healthy body means a healthy mind.
“Regardless of distance and regardless of the outcome, running is something that clears my head and keeps me feeling healthy,” she says. “When I run I feel good, and I am motivated to do better in all aspects of my life. It gives me more energy all around and a sense of accomplishment that if I can finish the race, I can do anything.”
She says the discipline, mental preparation and intensity of training helps her conquer mind over matter, and that translates into success in the workplace.
“You can train all day, every day, but if you don’t believe in yourself, the physical preparation doesn’t matter.”
As an added bonus, race participants are invited to the Rock the Parkway Family Weekend at Science City at Union Station. Just show your Rock the Parkway t-shirt or race-day number at the ticket counter at Union Station, and you and up to four family members can get in FREE. While you’re there, be sure to check out the newest exhibit, Science on a Sphere, which just opened last month.
Who else is rockin’ the parkway this weekend? What drives your passion for racing?
Image by hojusaram via Creative Commons