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I was timing a Thanksgiving 5 km today. After the race the director (who was in her first year and not a runner) asked, "If everything in this country is measured in miles, why do we have 5 km races?"

I couldn't think of a good reason for that. I do know, however, that when I've consulted on new events the organizers universally feel 5 km is a more popular distance than 3 miles (I've also seen more than my share of great 3 mi. courses screwed up to work in the additional 188 yds. to get it up to the "magic" distance, but that's another topic).

Anyone have any thoughts?
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If "Records are kept at the common metric distances", as Pete says, then why does IAAF Statistics keep records on 5000 meters for both outdoor and indoor track as well as for the mile, but not for 5K road events? I would still maintain that 5K "beat out" 3 miles as the more popular road distance because it was a recognized distance on the track long before the popularity of road racing.
Quick comment about km splits: I've found that for courses mostly run by diehard runners, km splits are appreciated and understood. For great big popular races they are not, at least in my experience. I fault the RD's for pandering to this demand for miles and not being leaders in helping us all think metric. But I'm guilty too. Years ago I would always try to talk the RD's into using kms. Once in a while they would buy my argument but almost always they'd come back the next year or so and ask for miles to make their complainers happy.
While we (and one poster in particular, from England Wink) are trying to convert the American runner to metric, I have found 10-mile races in England.

I happened to be looking at their site which lists certified courses (, and came across a few 10-mile courses (10/246 and 10/166, both in Midlands area, for instance). So, while we may feel the rest of the world is metric, some overseas race directors apparently want to use miles for distances. Go figure!

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