PORTLAND - When the Portland Marathon kicks off Sunday, odds are good nearly half the runners will be women and many first-time marathoners.

Jessica Stokke of Vancouver said this race is part of her bucket list.

I feel like, I m 27 and it's one of those life goals and I just literally was sitting on the couch one night and I thought, I'm going to do it. And then I was like, well, guess I m going to have to start training for it, Stokke said.

Wendy Larson has run for years and ran her first half marathon two years ago. Now she s back to run her fourth half marathon, the day after she gets married.

I turned 50. It s a good goal, she said.

The change in the number of women running marathons and half marathons is breathtaking for many.

It's just amazing how many women are doing the longer distances. There's a lot more than men, said Beaverton running coach Michael Fleming.

Amby Burfoot has noticed the change too.

Fitness is a lifelong necessity, he said. Burfoot won the Boston Marathon in 1968.

According to USA Running, by 1976, there were only 25,000 finishers of marathons in America and 90-percent were men.

In 2011, there were 518,000 finishersand 41percent were women.

I've been running marathons for 50 years and the change is women, women, and more women. It s just a tidal wave. It s unbelievable and fantastic, said Burfoot.

He says more and more women understand running is a simple sport that they really can do.

You know, golf, tennis, there are alot of great sports out there but they require some skill, practice, technique. Running is just, just between your ears. It s not your legs, get on a program, do it regularly, women are great at following programs, said Burfoot.

Read or Share this story: