… And We’re Back!

Yes, it’s been quite a while.

I’ve been busy these past few months on different aspects of the duncanSCORE, which I hope you will be seeing over the next 1-2 months. There are several improvements coming, and some new features. But given the way I tend to work (if I get bored with one thing, I’ll switch over to something else) and my tendency to get a new idea to work on (i.e. a new shiny object to distract me), sometimes there are delays. But right now several improvements and additions all are approaching completion very much together.

The duncanSCORE is now fully open again, so feel free to try it out and see how well you score against everyone else in the world in your event and age category.

For evaluation of TRACK performances, go here:

Track DE

and for FIELD Performances (Long Jump, High Jump, Shot Put, and Weight Throw) go here:

Field DE

(And if you are new here and are not clear what the duncanSCORE is about as an alternative to age-grading for Masters Track and Field athletes, here is an outline of how it works)

Worldwide, unfortunately,  this is a very unique time. Across the globe due to Covid-19, we are “social distancing” and have to come up with exercise routines at home as our gyms, health clubs, and tracks close. National championships, WMA Regionals, and now WMAToronto2020 Championships have been cancelled. Yet regular exercise is a key to staying healthy and we want to be prepared for that next competitive meet, whenever it will be. Probably you are doing some exercise daily outside. Recently while jogging through my neighbourhood and letting my mind wander, I imagined myself running along the (now likely) deserted streets of one of France’s most picturesque historical villages (see the picture above) that I visited while in Lyon 5 years ago.

It’s fun, too, to note that many of us feed on competition even if there are no track meets. Virtual competitions are all the rage right now. How about some statistical-virtual competition? If you have kept your results from competitions over several years (and if you haven’t, go to mastersrankings.com to get your results), why not use the duncanScore to “compete” with yourself? Here’s how.

Let’s say you are a W60 sprinter, and your best time last year in the 200 was a spectacular 29.11. An amazing time. And as you can see if you use the duncanSCORE calculator

Track DE

that gives you a duncanSCORE of 934 and a percentile of 93  … meaning you are as fast or faster than 93% of the W60s ever in the 200. But you are hard on yourself. After all, you are slowing down. 5 years ago as a W55, you raced the 200 a full 8/10 of a second faster in 28.31. Gosh, that’s nearly a second slower! But are you slowing down at the same rate as your age peers? Lets see. Run that calculator again, this time using the W55 age-group and your faster time from 5 years ago? OMG! Your duncanSCORE is 907 and your percentile 91 … You were (as fast or) faster than 91% of all W55 200m racers. So in fact, relative to your peers you are actually much faster than you were 5 years ago. The best virtual competition. Not only are you beating your peers, you’re also bettering yourself. Congratulations!

So play with the calculators. See how your performances have held up over time. Compare results from different events.



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The Sprinter’s Dilemma (1)

Traditionally at championship outdoor track meets, there are 3 sprint events … the 100m, the 200m, and the 400m. I’ve titled this post “The Sprinter’s Dilemma” because, while there are a lot of sprinters, but very few compete well in all 3 events. Not that many 100m participants are prepared to take on the 400. You can understand why … the 400m is a painful event to race. And even to train for. To train and race for all three sprints? The sprinter’s dilemma.

In this next series of posts I’d like to go into some depth with comparisons and contrasts among the 3 major Outdoor Sprint events. There are some incredible athletes who compete at the highest level in all 3. Previous posts have touched on Karla Del Grande and Charles Allie.  Other elite 3-eventers come to mind such as Australia’s Peter Crombie, the UK’s Caroline Powell, Germany’s Guido Mueller, South Africa’s Magdalena Tomlinson, and America’s Roger Pierce. There are, of course, many others, but compared with the legions who race the 100m and 200m, those who race all 3 exceptionally well are a somewhat rarer commodity. We know it takes a lot of additional endurance to race that extra 200m.

How many take it on successfully? And how does their performance(s) compare vs  200m and 100m?

Let’s do a bit of 3-event Sprint exploration.



The Aging Athlete (9) Speed vs Endurance – Women

In the previous post, we looked at Men’s drop off in Speed (using the 100m) vs Endurance (looking at the 5000m), to see which seemed to drop off first, and to what degree. Let’s now use the same process for Women.

To recap the methodology, we compiled the average performance (mastersrankings.com 2013-2016) in each age-group, then compared those with the average times from W35. (To refresh your memory on how the averages were calculated, go here.)

To see the chart full size, click here.  w_ch_egg

Well … this is different!  Unlike the Men, for Women there is NO appreciable difference in the rate of performance decline (vs W35) endurance vs speed! There is a small difference seemingly at W50, but apart from that, the rates are surprisingly close right up to and including W70. (Note we have not produced information for the average 5000m performance for W80 and W85 as results are not numerous enough for good data.)

Interesting! But does that hold for elites (World Record and 90th* percentile) and those women at the 75th* percentile? This table compares through the age-groups the relative decline vs W35 100m vs 5000m. Look closely, because there is a difference!

[table id=9 /]

What we see is that at the “elite” level (World Record holders and those women running at the 90th* percentile performance level) generally experience a greater decline at distance than speed … though note the WRs are near equal in decline at W55 and pretty close for 90th pc W55-W65. The 75th* percentile performance declines are near identical until W70.

A bit confused? It’s understandable. Here’s the summary. For Elites ( World Record  holders and 90th* percentile) there is a small but discernible larger decline in endurance over speed. For the 75th* percentile, the declines are very similar until W70. For the “average” woman, speed vs endurance declines are near-identical until at least W75.

Good racing ladies!

If you would like to see how your performance in the 100m or 5000m (or any other track event) measures up to the whole of your age group, go and get your duncanSCORE.

Track DE

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  • * It is important to realize that when I refer to “90th and 75th percentiles” these are statistical reference points and do not necessarily refer to actual performances or averages of actual performances.


The Aging Athlete (8) – Which Leaves First … Speed or Endurance?

We are all familiar with that perennial verbal chestnut … which came first, the chicken or the egg?

In track terms, for most of us, that translates into “As I age, which do I lose first … my speed or my endurance?”

We know, of course, that both decline over time. But do they exit with the same timing? And at the same rate? A running friend of mine speculated that we lose our speed first. After all, most of us can think of elites in the distance events (particularly the Marathon) who continued well best their prime. But sprinters are harder to identify. There are a few. Justin Gatlin, Kim Collins, Dwaine Chambers, Linford Christie come to mind. And Merlene Ottey for the Women. But based upon my own experience, I wasn’t so sure.

To try and come up with some answers, let’s see what the data show. Let’s start first with the Roosters … Men, speed vs endurance as we age.

For this bit of analytical work, I have taken average Men’s “best” performances from mastersrankings.com from 2013-2016 in the 100m (to represent “speed”), and the 5000m (to represent “endurance”).

(For those who are new to this blog and site, and/or would like a “refresher/reminder” click here to see where the data comes from and how it is calculated.)

To try and derive some answers, here is what I have done. I have taken the average 100m “best” time for M35 and used that as a “base”. Then I have indexed each age-group’s average time to M35. This gives us the % slower at each age-group than we were when we were M35s (on average). I did the same with the 5000m. See the chart graphing the trend.

Click M_Ch_Egg to blow the chart up to full size.

What the chart shows is that in the early years Men’s performance decline per 5-years is extremely similar, speed vs endurance. Until we hit M55. At that point,things begin to get clearer. The race is over for endurance! From there on, we seem to lose more endurance than speed, and that decline versus speed accelerates particularly so as we hit M70. By M75, while we have “lost” 39% of our speed, our endurance is down by over 57%.

What about the elites? Is it the same for them, too?

The table below gives us some answers. I’ve also done the same analysis for the World Records. Here I should note, the M35 WRs are exceptional … probably even more than the “usual” outliers. The M35 100m WR is Justin Gatlin’s 9.92 set at the IAFF World Championships in 2017 (when Justin beat Usain Bolt). The M35 5000m WR is Bernard Legat’s 12:53.60 set at a Diamond League meet in Monaco in 2011, when he finished inches behind Mo Farah and set an American record. Comparing all later age-groups against these outstanding performances is a trifle “iffy” … but then, of course, that is essentially what age grading does. But the data shows that the “elites” … the World Record, the 90th* percentile (the top 10% of Masters in the World), and the 75th* percentile (top 25% of Masters) experience a greater decline in endurance over speed beginning at M45- M50 and growing in discrepancy from there on.

[table id=8 /]

The answer then? It’s simple. For the average man and even the elites, we lose more endurance first. And proportionately more later too.

In the next post we will examine Women’s speed versus their endurance.

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  • * It is important to realize that when I refer to “90th and 75th percentiles” these are statistical reference points and do not necessarily refer to actual performances or averages of actual performances.

The Aging Athlete (7) – Women’s 1500m

Photo courtesy Doug Shaggy Smith

In the previous post we reviewed the data on the Men’s 1500m. Let’s do the same with Women. (For those who are new to this blog and site, and/or would like a “refresher/reminder” click here to see where the data comes from and how it is calculated.)

Like the Men’s 1500m (with Bernard Legat holding the M35 and M40 WRs), the Women’s early (W35-W45) world records are held by former Olympic/IAAF World Championships medalists (Maricica Puica from Romania W35 [1985] and Yekatarina Podkopayeva from the former Soviet Union, W40 and W45, [from 1994 and 1998.] These records are very much out of line with the age-groups that follow.

This  chart tracks the Women’s 1500m WR (in green) against the average best time for 1500m runners (in blue) as they age. Times have been converted to seconds.

(Blow the chart up to full size by clicking here Womens1500m  As you can see, the WR is fairly flat from W35-W45, but takes a significant uptick at W50. Now look at the pink bars toward the bottom of the chart. They track the percentage slower the average 1500m Woman is than the WR. The W35-W45 age-groups have an astounding 43%-45% difference. But at W50, the difference seems to come back to reality … a 34% difference, which continues to W55, and then further grows through the advancing age groups.

How do the various percentile* groups compare over time with the World Record? Like we did with the Men’s 1500m, we have broken out the 90th percentile (ie the fastest 10% of the world’s 1500m runners in each age-group) and tracked how they fare against the World record. After we get by the W35-W45 ages, the top 10% of runners’ performances  seem to decline at similar rates to the WR, since their racing bests tend to be a fairly consistent 10% – 12% slower than the WR (until W75 where it dips). We’ve done the same with the 75th percentile (the top 25% of 1500m Women racers), and this group, too, generally hold their “gap” with the WR until about W70.

So let’s summarize how those who run the 1500m age. The table below tells you, on average, what you can expect the performance decline will be in your 1500m per year.

[table id=7 /]

Let’s discount what the WR declines look like. For the 90th, 75th, and 50th (the overall Women’s average), the annual performance declines are very similar ( 1/2% – 3/4% per year) until W50. At that point, the data says,the faster you are, the less (percentage-wise) you will decline. Right through all the age-groups from then on, the 90th percentile is a little less than the 75th, which is a bit less than the 50th.

The bottom line? As simplistic as it sounds, and hopefully without sounding condescending, get as fast as you can as early as you can … because you know what? You will likely keep it longer.

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  • * It is important to realize that when I refer to “90th and 75th percentiles” these are statistical reference points and do not necessarily refer to actual performances or averages of actual performances.

The Aging Athlete (6) – Men’s 1500m

Photo Courtesy Doug Shaggy Smith

Based upon the previous post, we have learned that 1500m Male runners’ performance after age 35, on average, tends to decline about 1/2% per year until M50. Then the erosion in time increases to about 1% annually until age 60. From there it jumps to over 1% a year.

Comparing the “average” male’s declining times versus the declines seen in the World Record (which form the basis of the age-grading curve) is a bit of a two-step process. Bernard Legat holds the the WRs for M35 (3:32.51 at age 36) and M40 (3:41.87 at age 40), followed by the UK’s Anthony Whiteman (M45), and David Heath (M50) and Australia’s Keith Bateman (M55) and the US’s Nolan Shaheed (M60).

It’s interesting to track the “gap” between Mr. Average and the WR. All through the M30s, M40s, and M50s, the “gap” (as measured by the percent the average is slower than the WR) is a pretty consistent 33%. From M60 on the average man slows down at an increasing rate vs the Legats of the world so that by age 85 we are 63% slower. You can see this in the chart below.

Click    Mens1500m                          to blow it up to full size and look at the pinkish bars on the bottom of the chart. They track in percentage terms how much slower the average is than the WR.

But let’s dig a bit deeper. Let’s look at the 90th percentile*. These are the top 10% of 1500m runners in the world in their age group. The 90th percentile for M55 1500 is about 4:37.65. How well does the 90th percentile of 1500m runners (essentially those who could possibly medal at an Outdoor World Championship … see here how I arrived at that conclusion) fare? Well blow up that chart again.    Mens1500m

Below the pink bars tracking Mr. Average’s greater times than the WR you will see a line called “90th PC Diff (%)” … the percentage slower than the WR of the 90th percentile runner across the age-groups. Note how consistent it is right up to M85 … 11%-14% slower right through time. The top 10% runners really are different! Right through until their mid 80s they hold their relative performance versus the absolute best in the world.

So if the 90th percentile pretty well tracks the WR decline in performance, where does the “royal jelly” in endurance begin to slip? On the chart, just below the 90th percentile you can find the 75th percentile, which is about 5:25.59 for M60. The 75th percentile is about what it takes to qualify for a World Championship final in the 1500. For the 75th percentile, the difference vs the world record also tracks pretty darn consistently until M60. From there the percentage behind the WR increases by 2 points or so every age group. The royal jelly is seeping out. It is somewhere around here at M60 that tracking the WR begins to no longer truly reflect “everyman’s” changing performance in an endurance event through time.

Where does that leave us? I suggest you find out exactly where YOU are. What percentile is your 1500m? To find out just just click below, select your age-group from the drop down menu, select event (e.g. 1500m), and then enter your time in minutes, seconds, and hundredths of seconds. Then click the green “Ok … Done … Go” and see your standing.

Track DE

Once you know your percentile, peruse the following table. It gives the average ANNUAL decline in performance over time for the 90th percentile, the 75th, and the 50th (the average man). Your standing is probably close to one of those, so you should be able to roughly establish what kind of decline in your 1500m time you can expect over the next few years. (One proviso. I suspect that you will decline less in the first year or two of an age group, and then probably a greater percentage loss as you get to the latter years of the age-group.) After age 60 you probably should not be upset if your age grade no longer is holding with previous years. You likely are maintaining your standing among your non-elite peers.

[table id=6 /]

Good luck!

Next up more information on Women’s 1500m.

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  • * It is important to realize that when I refer to “90th and 75th percentiles” these are statistical reference points and do not necessarily refer to actual performances or averages of actual performances.

The Aging Athlete (5) ENDURANCE – 1500M

Photo courtesy of Rob Jerome

It’s time now to see what aging does to our ability to continue on at an above “normal” pace … our endurance. And the 1500m (the “metric mile”) is as good a place as any to start that analysis.

While the 1500m certainly packs a speed element into it, by far the bigger slice of success revolves around the endurance component. Look how John Walker (never the quickest thoroughbred on the course) uses his superb endurance to win the 1500m in the Montreal Olympics.


That’s all fine and good! But once we have endurance, how long do we hold on to it? And to what extent? How fast does it slip away?

First, let’s look at the trend of the 1500m as we age. This chart shows the trend of the AVERAGE “best performance” times from mastersrankings.com (2013-2016). [For new readers to this blog and the background behind this site, you can go here to read and understand how the statistics I use are pulled together.] The chart compares Men’s and Women’s 1500m averages over time. Get a blown up look at the chart by clicking here.

MW 1500m

All times are in seconds.

You will probably note, both the Men’s and Women’s curves are quite flat in the beginning. For Men, the average ANNUAL decline is somewhere around 1/2% (see the table below)  until M45 .(Note the “annual” decline I refer to is simply the arithmetic average of the loss of performance from the previous age-group divided by 5. It’s not foolish to assume the majority of that decline is in the final 2 years of the age-group, while the first 2-3 years’ performance hit is likely to be much less pronounced.)  At M50 the yearly decline doubles to 1%+ up to M60, then edges upward until it reaches over 2% at M75, then over 3% annually thereafter.

.For Women 1500m runners, the average ANNUAL slowdown begins very much like the Men. Performance slips 1/2%-3/4% every year until it hits 1% at W55. Then the decline reaches 1.8% (W60), eases back smartly at W65 (1.25+%), and then starts to increase again thereafter You can see all the details in the table below..

[table id=5 /]

To sum up on our ability to hold our endurance … we lose 1/2%-1% per year until we hit age 55. Then the next 10 years (Men to M70) our performance will decline somewhere between 1.3% and 1.8% annually. In our 70s the performance decline gets a little faster … 2%-3% per year.

You know what? That’s really not too bad at all!

Next we will go into more detail on the Men’s 1500m

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The Aging Athlete (4) – Men’s 100m

Photo courtesy Dan Slovitt

The previous posting analyzed the available statistics on Masters Women’s 100m and tried to make some sense of all the numbers. Let’s do the same with the Men’s 100m and follow where the numbers lead.

We have charted the average time for Men’s 100m by age group (in blue) versus the existing World Record (in red) for each age-group (note the M90 average is blank because the number of performances is fairly low from our reporting years 2013-2016). See full size Mens100m

One thing to note is the early Men’s WRs (M35 and M40) which are 9.92 and 9.93, held by 2 incredible Olympians (Justin Gatlin and Kim Collins). Secondly, except for the big increase between M40-M45 in the WR (and that is due to the incredibly small increase of 0.01 second in the WR for M40 by Kim Collins), the upward slope (ie the decline in performance) is gentler for the WR line than it is for the “average” male sprinter. But both lines slope rather gently (certainly more gently than Women’s) until M80 in the average line, and M90 for the WR.

As the table below shows, the average ANNUAL decline in 100m performance is very similar if you look at the WR and at the average as I have calculated from mastersrankings.com. Close, but generally we slow down a little bit more for the “average” than the WR might indicate. That is until M75 when the difference becomes much more pronounced (and perhaps this is partially due to the decreasing participation rate in the older age-groups)

Typically your performance will erode around 1/2% per year until M50, 3/4%-1% or so annually until M70, and then  1 1/2-2% a year until you hit 85.

[table id=4 /]

So as I tried to point out in the Women’s case, even though your training is good and consistent, as you move into a different age-group, your age-grading may slowly get worse, and you may not understand why.

Here’s the answer. Not to worry. You’re typical!

I plan to investigate this with more cuts at the various percentiles to see where the changes begin to occur between “elite” and average. I’m very curious about this.

But my next project is to look at the decline over time in endurance. So next up will be the 1500.

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The Aging Athlete (3) – Women’s 100m

Photo courtesy Dan Slovitt

The previous post summarized and trended some of the 100m data (2013-2016) from mastersrankings.com I have begun analyzing. We will look in more depth at the Men’s results soon, but first let’s explore some of the finer points of all the available performances in the Women’s 100m. For a refresher on how the data is gathered and processed, please go here.

As pointed out in the previous post, 8,626 Women’s 100m “best annual” performances are included in this analysis (772 wind assisted performances not included). An issue for Masters is how to encourage greater female participation. Unfortunately, women participate in our sport at the Masters level in far fewer numbers than men. Hopefully, sprint role models such as Karla Del Grande, Carol Layfayette-Boyd, Irene Obera and other top women’s competitors can encourage more women to do the training, don a pair of spikes, and try a race or two..

This chart graphs the W100m World Record against the average performance from mastersrankings.com. I have indicated in red the averages for W80 and W85, but since there really aren’t a lot of performances in these age-groups, I have not included W80 and W85 in my calculations. (They are there more as indications rather than  absolute data points) You can see the graph in full size by clicking

W100m for blogpost

The average 100m for all women is shown in the green curve, and the women’s World Record is shown in the mauve. Both curves take a noticeable climb upwards beginning at W70.  Also note the figures below the curves. These are the 5-year average declines in performance vs the previous age-group, for world records and all-Women averages. We will discuss these average declines in more detail from the table below, but for now here are a couple of points to note 1) both in the all-Women average and the WR, the declines moderate in intensity at W65, then increase again at W70. 2) The WR seems to indicate that this moderation occurs again at W75 (though the all-Women does NOT).

The table below takes the average 5-year decline and converts that to an estimated ANNUAL decline for the WR (column #3) and all-women’s average (column #4). You often hear Masters performance declines about 1% per year. Well, not exactly. Up to and including W50, the annual decline (as shown for both the WR and all-women’s average) is usually somewhere between 4/10 and 7/10 of a per cent. But beginning at W55, the all-women’s decline rapidly increases past 1% annually (at W65 it is 0.95% so pretty close to 1%) or greater. And for W65 onward, the all-women’s average slow down is more pronounced than that indicated by the WR. It would seem the very top athletes age differently than the “norm”.

[table id=3 /]



We can look at this another way. As shown in the table below, the all-women’s average 100m time was 37-38% slower than the WR up to W50. For W55 and W60, perhaps surprisingly, the differential dropped to 33%, but from then on the differential escalates rapidly to 50%.

[table id=2 /]

My concluding thoughts? Up to and including W50, your performance likley will decline less than 1% per year. After that expect more than 1% per year.

And as women hit the W65 age-group, unless you are an elite or near elite, you shouldn’t be terribly disappointed if your Age Grade percentage slips a little. This would seem to be likely for the “average” or near average female sprinter. So carry on!

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The Aging Athlete (2) – 100m

How do Sprinters age? When does the aging effect on our speed really begin to increase its decline? Is the timing different women vs men? It’s probably neither consistent nor smooth. I’ve often heard it said that we, on average, lose 1% a year. Is this speed? Or endurance? Or both? I don’t know, but let’s see what the data appears to say.

I’m going to start with the 100m, which should be a good reflection of how “speed” declines with age.  I am using the duncanSCORE data base which contains 8,626 Women’s 100m entries up to and including W75 and 21,540 Men’s 100m performances (from mastersrankings.com for the years 2013-2016) used to calculate our scores and percentiles (if you are interested, you can get the details of the data processing here). Beyond W75  and M85 the numbers of performances are too sparse to use in our analysis.

The above graph may be a bit small to view properly. Here it is in full size Average    

What we see are some differences Women (in green) vs Men (in blue). Both genders decline in performance (vs the previous age group) generally about the same rate until “55”. This is shown in the tabular section under the graph lines and is labeled “% to Prev” (the percentage decline vs the previous age-group).   At that stage Women slow down 6.6% vs W50s, while M55s are averagely 3.99% slower than M50s.

The Men’s slowdown continues to accelerate (reaching 6.74% slower than the previous age group at M65), but then a sort of miracle happens! See where the blue line flattens a bit? The Men’s rate of decline (3.07%) is less then half the previous, but then accelerates much faster at M75 onward.

Women get their “mini miracle” to happen at W65. There the speed decline does indeed decline (to 4.74% from 6.29%), From there as you can see in the graph, the line begins its 45 degree upward slope. The Men’s roughly 45 degree slope commences at M75.

That’s it in a nutshell. I hope I haven’t bored you to tears, because the next posting will look at the Women’s 100m in more detail.

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If you are new here and this is all a little confusing and really don’t get what I’m talking about, please have a quick read that will explain the concepts behind the duncanSCORE