Obviously, marathons involve a lot of running (along with walking breaks, for the beginners among us), but other sports are equally running-intensive. Measuring the run distance is the very reason athletes are being monitored with hi-tech sensors and GPS trackers. These trackers are either worn on the body or are sometimes stitched into the sports outfits. As a result, sports arenas have become a huge market for health trackers and monitors. But which sport has the most running?

The answer is surprisingly cricket. But it comes with a caveat.

Cricket comes out on top
Cricket comes out on top

In cricket, batsmen tend to cover a lot less ground while batting, while bowlers are likely to even finish a half marathon in the course of one day. The distance run goes up massively when taking into account all-rounders who often have to perform with the bat and the ball. In all, bowlers cover between 14-16 km per game, while batsman cover 6-8km per innings. This only includes the primary activity and doesn’t take into account ground covered while fielding, which depends on a lot of other factors, such as state of the match, the area of the ground and the actual runs scored. Some bowlers have covered more distance than a half marathon in one day’s play.

Bowlers run more than double the distance than batsmen (Image: DXR - Wikimedia Commons)
Bowlers run more than double the distance than batsmen (Image: DXR – Wikimedia Commons)

Second on the list is football, where players cover just over 11km on an average. Once again, there is some discrepancy when it comes to this figure depending on the position of the player. Midfield players for example, cover a whole lot ground in the 90 minutes. Some footballers are known to run well over 15 km per match, but this is not a common sight, and can be considered an outlier example (applies to traditional wingbacks rather than other positions).

Footballers cover the most distance in a match across the board (Image: Christopher Johnson - Wikimedia Commons)
Footballers cover the most distance in a match across the board (Image: Christopher Johnson – Wikimedia Commons)

Third is India’s national sport of field hockey. It lasts only 70 minutes but the intensity of a hockey match is unmatched in other sports and players rarely have time to catch a breath. The reason the sport is so exciting is also why it’s so hard on the athletes’ bodies. According to a report, hockey players could cover about 9-10KM per match on an average. Add to that the fact that most of the time, you are running with a gangly hockey stick and in a crouched position, and you can imagine the fitness of hockey players.

Tennis and basketball players cover 4-5KM per match on an average. For Tennis the number is higher during 5-set matches, while 3-set matches cover less ground. Basketball players cover less ground, but need to do a lot of work besides running, such as turning quickly, jumping, pivoting and throwing. And all of this is on a much shorter court than any other sport, so it’s all the more hard to notice the intensity.

So, cricket is the surprising winner, and hopefully that changes your notion of the sport being easy enough for even unfit players.

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