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Half the distance, twice the fun: Half-marathons taking off
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It's been a long process to convince runners that racing 13.1 miles isn't actually half of anything. Perhaps it's that awkward name, half-marathon, which has somehow made the event seem less important.

But given the recent boom in half-marathon running, it's clear that more and more runners are targeting the distance, either as a stand-alone challenge or a stepping stone to a full marathon. According to a survey by running industry publication Race Results Weekly, participation in half-marathons in the United States grew by 15% last year, more than a third faster than the growth in all road running distances combined. Out of 200 well-established events surveyed, four of the top-10 in percentage growth were half-marathons, including the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon, which grew a whopping 132%, the most of any event in the survey.

"The half-marathon is a great distance to race in a build-up for a marathon," says New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith who finished her first marathon at last Sunday's Virgin London Marathon in a new national record of 2:25:21. "You can gauge where you are in your training and you can recover quickly afterward so it won't disrupt training."

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