Vitals Ranks America’s Best Running Cities

Orlando, San Diego and Las Vegas are Top Three Ranked Running Cities

LYNDHURST, N.J.--()--There’s no doubt that running as a sport has exploded. More than 18.75 million people completed a running event in 2014. That’s more than double the 8.5 million people who finished a race in 2000.

Races of all kinds – from half marathons to fun runs – have gained in popularity as the number of runners has increased. But running can be a demanding sport. Pounding the pavement mile after mile stresses knees and joints. According to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, nearly 70 percent of runners will suffer a running related injury.

The latest Vitals Index ranks America’s Best Running Cities based on quality ratings and access to sports medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons. It also considers the number of full and half marathons hosted by a city, the number of participants for the largest race and the number of runs per person.

Sports medicine doctors and orthopedic surgeons deal with running injuries every day. But not everyone has equal access to high-quality sports specialists. In fact, some cities known for their mega-marathons have fewer sports specialists per capita than more intimate racing venues.

For instance, while New York City hosts one of the largest marathons in the nation, there’s only one sports specialist for every 18,580 residents. In comparison, Birmingham has one sports specialist for every 2,021 residents.

Orlando, San Diego and Las Vegas were the top three ranked cities on the list. Orlando not only has an impressive number of sports medicine specialists who practice there, but it also hosts the Walt Disney Marathon which drew 65,523 runners last year – the largest race in the nation. San Diego hosts much smaller races, but holds 11 full or half marathons per year, plus several other shorter-distance events.

Cities known for their prestigious marathons, like Boston, Chicago and New York, surprisingly did not qualify for the top ten. These cities host fewer long-distance runs and tended to have fewer sports specialists per capita.

The top cities for the Vitals Index Best Running Cities Rankings are listed along with key data.

Rank   City  

per capita




Runs per


No. of



1   Orlando   1:2,590   3.87   41.4   7   65,523
2   San Diego   1:6,109   4.14   41.4   11   13,391
3   Las Vegas   1:6,145   3.88   43   16   35,289
4   Miami   1:2,937   4.07   41.4   4   17,529
5   San Francisco   1:6,242   4.04   41.4   12   19,768
6   Seattle   1:3,478   4.08   41   7   11,043
7   Washington   1:6,916   4.15   40.09   6   27,437
8   Birmingham   1:2,021   4.16   41.7   3   5,526
9   Charlotte   1:6,305   4.12   42.2   8   4,385
10   Atlanta   1:2,308   4.04   40.9   7   7,830

Runners training for a full or half marathon often run upwards of 30 miles per week. Yet, ramping up on mileage too fast or not having the right sneakers can result in some of these most common injuries. If you need the care of a sport medicine doctor or orthopedic surgeon, start your search at

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Rosie Mattio, 917-583-6349


Rosie Mattio, 917-583-6349