Why Marathons but No Sprinting Competitions?

RIO DE JANERIO, BRAZIL (Photo of Usain Bolt by Salih Zeki Fazlolu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

This is a completely random thought that occurred to me recently.

As adults, we have a few different ways to stay in shape. We can join a gym or yoga center, play a sport (league, pickup, or with friends), exercise or stay active at home or in the great outdoors, or participate in obstacle course competitions.

The other big category is to train for and run in a race. 5ks, half-marathons, and full marathons.

That’s fine if you enjoy running long distances. But, judging from the people with whom I ran track in high school, there are just as many people who like to run very short distances. So why aren’t there any adult competitions for them? Can’t sprinters relive their glory days in 10-60 second chunks instead of putting themselves through the agony of a long-distance race?

Also, wouldn’t sprints be easier for people to watch? If you want to support a friend or family member who is running a marathon, you have camp out for hours and come prepared with all sorts of gels, lotions, and liquids. Cities close off streets for half the day. But for a 100-meter relay, it’s over in a few minutes (counting warmup, victory laps, etc).

Of course, this is partially self-serving, as I’m a sprinter. I haven’t a had a good footrace in a while.

Are there sprinting competitions for adults? If not, why do you think that is?