Monday, December 08, 2008

California International Marathon

Well I just had a look at the California International Marathon Results. This is one of my favorite races. It is a a course with lots of rolling hills from about mile 6 to 16 and has an overall downward elevation. It is not an easy course as most people would think. Anyway, I started to look at the results and my eyes began to widen as I saw that 9 out of the 30 top women were over 40. All of these women went under 3 hours and 5 of them went under 2 hours and 50 minutes. Crazy!

For a 46 year old woman a time of 3 hours is equal to 2 hours and 41 minutes when age-graded. It continues to amaze me as to how many women are running well over the age of 40.

BTW, there was one male in the top 30 that was over 40 years of age. He ran 2:29 which is amazing as well.


heatherkj said...

I'm not sure how accurate this process of age-grading is...
I'm certainly not saying that it doesn't get harder to run as a person gets older. My point is this:
Would a runner who has an age-graded marathon time of 2:41 have been able to run that when he/she was 30? (before they got that extra 16 years of running training/experience)?
In my (lack of) experience, consistent running is cumulative. More running = greater fitness and stamina = faster results.
If age-grading accounts for expeience (and possibly sex) as well as age, then I would agree with it. If it is based solely on age, I feel it's flawed.
Looking forward to the rebuttle!!

polishbaba said...

Age-graded tables are a series of "age factors" and "age standards" which can be used to compare performances at different ages in road races. Age-graded tables show how much a typical person's athletic performance improves during youth and declines during aging. The performances vary by event. The tables were researched by the World Association of Veteran Athletes (WAVA), the world coverning body for masters (veterans) long distance running.

The purpose of age-graded tables is two-fold:
1) To correct a person's performance, no matter what his/her age, to what it would have been (or will be) in their prime years. By doing so, all kinds of interesting comparisons can be made. You can compare back to your best performances. You can compaire your performances to other people of any age, such as open-class athletes, etc.

2) To provide each individual with a percentage value which enables them to judge his/her performance in any event without bias to age. No mattter how old one gets, this performance percentage will always be judged against the standard for one's age. As your performances decline with age, so do the world standards that the tables use to calculate your percentage, giving a true measure of your performance.

The standards correspond approximately to world record marks for a person of that age and sex in that event.

Achievement Levels Within Sex
100% Approximate World Record Level
90%+ World Class
80%+ National Class
70%+ Regional Class
60%+ Local Class

Age Graded Times
The age graded times compute your time and age into an age graded time for yourself when you theoretically were in your peak running performance years (age 30-35). The computations begin at age 36, and a different multiplication factor is used for each single age.

A viewpoint often expressed regarding age grading is that the tables are too lenient towards the older masters. No one who has ever studied the tables will say this. The standards are very tough. For a 55 year old woman, a 100 percent performance level in a 5K is a 17:17, for a 10K it's 37:36. In 1995 the USATF Road Running Information Center lists the fastest 5K time for the 55 to 59 age division as 19:37, the fastest 10K was 40:37.

A 65 year old woman would have to run a 5K in 19:19 to score at 100 PLP and a 39:51 at 10K. In 1995 the fastest times listed are 22:52 and 46:55.

Men are coming closer to their standards than are the women, yet they remain out of reach as well. For a man of 55, the standards are 15:08 for 5K and 31:18 for 10K. The RRIC lists 16:35 as the fastest 5K in 1995 and 33:16 as the fastest 10K. For Men 65 the standards are 16:38 and 34:25, yet the fastest time run in that division in 1995 were 18:36 and 40:01.

For example, as a 43 year old novice who runs 43:15 in a 10K, equates to a age grade of 40:26 for 74 PLP. If 10 years later this same athlete runs 42:37 this becomes a 36:25 for an 82 PLP, a marked improvement that would not otherwise be apparent. In order for master athletes to set goals as they age, they rely on charts to see what times are needed to run to stay at the same level as they age.

Hope that adds clarity as to what age grading means.