This study was designed to examine some of the psychosocial factors underlying the recent marathon boom. A survey of 459 marathoners varying in age, sex, ability, and experience was conducted to assess their reasons for running a marathon, the outcomes derived, and their experiences during a marathon. Information was also sought regarding the psychological aspects of running in general, particularly the concept of addiction to running. Measures of addiction to running produced a consistent pattern of sex differences, with females evidencing higher levels of addiction than males. With respect to reasons for running a marathon and perceived outcomes, some interesting trends were evident as a function of age. It was suggested that the attraction of the marathon to people of all ages and abilities may lie partly in its unique ability to satisfy a wide range of needs, both extrinsic and intrinsic.
This research was part of a study conducted by the Australian Sports Medicine Federation. The study involved a multi-disciplinary panel whose members were: A. Kretsch (Chairman), J. Carlson, P. Duras, I. Gilliam, R. Grogan, J. Summers, J. Sumner, and M. Weyl-Willet. The research was supported by the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation and the Trauma Research Foundation. The authors wish to thank Felicity Allen for assistance in data analysis.
Requests for reprints should be sent to J.J. Summers, Department of Psychology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.