Comparing to Open Results

– Photo from Wikipedia –

How fast are you? Well, you know your absolute performance, from your race time. The clock doesn’t lie.

But as Masters, while we need to know the absolute time of our performance, given Father Time’s unflagging ability to make us slower,  we tend to also prioritize our relative performance.

In other words, it’s how we ask the question … and how we frame the answer.

In the duncanSCORE how fast you are is expressed as a percentile of your age cohort. The percentage of your age-group that you equal or outperform.

In age-grading it is a percentage of the theoretical best possible performance for your age group and gender.

The Age-Grading process  (I’m using the “Howard Grubb” web site calculator here http://howardgrubb.co.uk/athletics/wmalookup15.html  using 2015 factors) also will give you another relative look at your performance, an “Open” result (see point 2 below). Didn’t we all enjoy seeing what Ed Whitlock’s road race times “converted” to the times for Open runners?

So, could you compare your performance to an “Open” time?

The Age Grading process works like this:

  1. Your time is divided by the “Age Standard” to arrive at your age-graded percentage. The age-standard is an estimate of what the ultimate possible performance is. The “ultimate possible” is usually better than the WR at the time the tables were created.
  2. An “Open” result is created by dividing the “Open Standard” (the Open WR at the time the tables were created) by the age-graded percentage.

duncanSCORE “Open” Calculations will be different

The duncanSCORE is also going to provide equivalent “Elite/Open” times in the upcoming weeks.

But the process will be different. (It’s taking a lot longer than I expected to pull this together, but then everything on this project has been taking more time than I expected.)

Our “Open” calculations will be based upon the World Athletics (formerly IAAF) All-Time lists, supplemented by WA performance lists from 2016-2019.

What does this mean? How will it work?

These World Athletics lists will be pared down to construct a perfect (or near-perfect) bell curve.  After all, that’s the way duncanSCORE works … putting Athletics performances on a bell curve. This WA bell curve will be matched with the bell curve from your age-group/event. Your bell curve result (ie the number of standard deviations away from the average) will be matched with the same bell curve result for the Elite/Open results.

The point is not to say this is what you should have run back in the day.Rather, it is to say

the duncanScore tells you how you rate against everyone in the world in your age-group over time. Here is what that equivalent rating is to the actual best in the world all-time.

We are calling this facility the Juvenator, and next post I will show you how this works, beginning with the 400m.

In the meantime, don’t forget to see how your track performances measure up against your age peers. Try it out here …

Track DE

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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

Similar Thinking

Picture from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), distributed by United Artists

Sometimes it feels a bit lonely. Like being in the wilderness and shouting alone. To the best of my knowledge, creating and using a “standardized score” for Masters Athletics has not been done before. Previously, I outlined the reasons that led me on this path.

While I might think it’s pretty darn logical to wonder how you rank within your peer age group, traditional age grading has been in use for 30 years or so, and even if its creation is often misunderstood, and one of the most common ways it is used not approved, it nonetheless is ingrained in Masters athletics. It’s why I term the duncanSCORE an alternative. Not a replacement.

And that’s why it’s interesting and a breath of fresh air to find others who share much of my thinking. A young athlete (Alexis Spinetta) has put up on her blog a very good critique of age grading and done some pretty cute calculations to derive aging tables for marathoners. Check out their thinking here … http://agegradecalculator.comabout.php. 

16 years of finishers’ times for the Austin, Texas marathon have been combined and analyzed into some pretty interesting statistics. And try out your marathon finishing time in their calculator to see how you compare against your age cohort from Austin finishers, and all other finishers.

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