Sunday, February 12, 2012

Old guys (and gals) rule!

Old not slow…

At first glance, today’s Ironman Panama 70.3 smack down by Lance Armstrong (aged 40) could easily be attributed to Lance’s super humanness.  His 3 hours, 50 minute 2nd place to a previously undefeated Bevan Docherty, 34 years old was stunning.   Lance led until the final 1 km.
You could come to the conclusion that Lance being competitive at his age is yet another symptom of his paranormal athletic freakiness.  That may be true.
But his near victory made me curious about how “the over the 40 gang” is holding up in races.

A closer look at performances by age grouper runners and tri-athletes in the 40 plus range reveals something many of us “old timers” know. 

40 plus does not necessarily mean slow!

Take as an example, the 2011 San Francisco Marathon’s male #100 finisher by age group finish times:

Age Group:                         #100 Finisher Time
30-34                                     3:35
35-39                                     3:38
40-44                                     3:37
45-49                                     3:45

The results would suggest that 40-44 year old males can keep up with the younger generation.
A check in to the NYC Marathon 2011 stats revealed a similar pattern.  In fact, an over 40 year old dude finished the 26.2 mile course in 2:24 versus the #1 M30-34 finisher time of 2:28!. 
In triathlon, the playing field takes a bit more of an expected distribution.  I took a look at the results of 2011’s Kona Ironman Championships.  These folks are typically the best of the best from across the world and would likely provide the top end examples of each age groups capabilities.

Finish times for the Male #50 finisher by age group:
30-34                                     9:33
35-39                                     9:35
40-44                                     9:49
45-49                                     10:10

(Research Note…Tip of the bike helmet to M70-74 finisher Milos Kostic with an 11:45!!!  Smokin Milos!)
At quick glance, you can see that older people are generally slower.  Sure, only a fool would state otherwise.
But don’t count out that 45-49 age group!  The fastest 45-49er beat all but 1 under age 20 finisher and would have beaten nearly all of the Top 15 finishers in the M30-44 years old categories.

What about the ladies?
Is being competitive over 40 just a male thing?  What about the fairer looking race dude-ettes?  Do Age 40 plus women as a whole keep up with younger model years?  Let’s look at the same races.
The San Francisco Marathon 2011 #100 by age group female finisher times:
Age Group:                         F#100 Finisher Time
30-34                                     4:07
35-39                                     4:23
40-44                                     4:28
45-49                                     4:43

Age 40 does not necessarily mean slow!  The 40-44 age group for women gave the youngsters a run!

What about Ironman Kona 2011?

Finish times for the Female #25 finisher by age group (I adjusted to #25 finisher as competition size sampling was smaller):
Age Group                         Finish Time
30-34                                     10:39    
35-39                                     10:54
40-44                                     10:58
45-49                                     11:36
Again, those 40-44 year olds can hang with the younger women!

Now, I know you math geeks out there are gonna hate!  I can hear you now.
“Your sample size is too small.”  (Admittedly true.)
“You did not account for x,y,z.”  (Nor a, b, c)
“Yes, but…..(insert probably right statistical analysis rant here)  (Shut yo mouth will you?)
Further study would likely show some kinks in my quick conclusion that…

“Old guys (and gals) rule!” 

But that’s my story.  If you don’t like it, get your own blog.

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