Those involved in the sport have known for some time that England is a nation of runners and the latest official statistics once again reinforce that fact.
Sport England has announced that there are now 2.45million people aged over the age of 14 taking part in athletics each week, with the number of female regular runners totalling more than 1million for the first time and the number of disabled participants also reaching a new high.
The figures, which maintain an upward trend in the numbers of people from all backgrounds running weekly, demonstrate just how inclusive and accessible running and athletics are.
England Athletics Chief Executive Chris Jones said, “It is fantastic that so many people are now enjoying athletics in all its different forms.
“The sport provides a remarkably wide range of opportunities and enjoyment for many different people. Each person reflected in these figures is someone with their own unique motivations, aspirations and abilities, who has found that athletics and running have something to offer them.
“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who inspires and provides opportunities for all of these people to be involved. There are opportunities created by a range of voluntary, commercial, charitable, and public sector organisations and groups and a huge number volunteers play an essential role in providing events, group running, club sessions, support and encouragement.”
England Athletics Head of Running Participation Matt Birkett said, “While these results are very welcome and pleasing, they come as no surprise to us, as we were already aware that running is one of the most inclusive and accessible ways for a wide range of people to enjoy active lifestyles.
“As we have worked with Sport England on the This Girl Can: Running campaign we have seen how everyone from major event providers, to clubs, running groups and individuals have a real commitment and vision for taking running to new people.”
“This Girl Can: Running has influenced over 22,000 women in running more often over the last six months with many partners doing great work to make the sport more attractive and accessible.”
“Our research has also shown that there are over 7million people who have been for a run in the past year and we would love to see far more of these people choosing to run as part of their regular diet of exercise. Running really does offer something to everyone.”
• The Sport England Active People Survey 9 figures cover the year to the end of September 2015 and are based on weekly participation of 30min or more.
• For the 16+ age group, weekly athletics participation has risen to 2.33million people.
• The number of women aged 16+ has risen to 1.025million, leading to a closing of the ‘gender gap’, while the sport has also seen an increase in the number of men participating.
• The number of disabled people aged 16+ taking part for at least 30min each week has reached 139,600.
• For more information on Sport England and the Active People Survey see www.sportengland.org