|What’s all this “age-graded” stuff?|
In the olden days (when Ed was just a youngster), race finishes were based on first, second, and third…and the rest of the pack. As running became more popular, male/female and age group awards (in ten-year intervals) were added, to acknowledge that both men and women were racing, that runners were no longer retiring when they turned 30 or 35, and to make races more engaging and competitive for a larger number of participants. As running continued to grow, most races shifted to five-year age group awards.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to have runners of all ages, from 10 to 80+, racing side-by-side in all kinds of distances, terrains, and times. To more objectively compare race results, “age-adjusted” or age-graded scoring has been steadily becoming more commonplace.
The idea is put everybody on the same equivalent scoring system, by adjusting race times for that given distance by race and sex (but accepting that we all begin to get a little slower as we age). Several slightly different equations are currently in use, but they all follow the same general plan: a world-class standard is established for each year of age (from 8 to 100) in every distance, so that 100% is approximately the world record for that distance and age. Your finishing time is then compared to the world-record value, and a percentage or age-graded performance is calculated.
As a rough rule of thumb:
100% = Approximate World Record
over 90% = world class
over 80% = national class
over 70% = regional class
over 60% = local class
(..and over 5% = time to go to class -- just kidding!)
Our best teammates often score in the low to mid 80s, and a few have even gotten into the high 80s or broken 90! If you’re curious how you have been doing, here’s a link to one of many age-grade calculators available on the web at RunnersWorld.com.
Good luck, and see you at the next workout! – Coach Ed