(This is the 17th post in a series that started here)
While I was on vacation, a reader asked about the average finish times for each age group at the Boston Marathon, divided by gender. Here’s the data:
Here’s a chart of the data:
(Quick reminder – this data set does not include wheelchair and handbike racers and is missing a few randomly scattered results due to imperfections in the process of obtaining the data.)
Got any questions? Your answer could be next!
(This is the 16th post in a series that started here)
After my post comparing 5K splits for women and men at the 2014 Boston Marathon, one reader asked to see comparable data from other years. Unfortunately, the 2013 data set is incomplete, and the BAA doesn’t post 5K splits from years prior to 2013, so 2014 is all we’ve got.
I was able to get 5K split data from the New York and Chicago Marathons for 2013. Gender information wasn’t readily available in the Chicago results, but I was able to create a chart comparing the results from New York for men and women.
As I did for Boston, I divided the results up into half-hour groups, shifting the women’s groups to adjust for the difference in average finish times between men and women (about 25 minutes):
The difference between men and women at New York isn’t as distinct as it was in the Boston data, but you can still see that, on average, women seem more likely to be able to pick up the pace at the end of the race than men.
As fun as all this is, you need to keep in mind that these are average results from a wide variety of runners. They have some illustrative value, but they say very little about any individual competitor.
Let’s go back to Boston 2014 for an example to illustrate that point. The average man ran about 3:51, while the average woman ran 4:12-ish. To pick an individual totally at random, I ran a 3:47, which made me slightly faster than the average male. In spite of that, well over 4500 women finished ahead of me.
There’s some optimal pacing strategy, whatever it might be. Most people fail to hit it. On average, men might tend to go out too fast, while the average woman might save a little too much for the end, but individual differences far outweigh any predictive value this might have.
One thing for sure; whether or not you run an optimal race, I know which type of pacing is more fun.
We’re all either struggling with age now, or we will be soon enough. So everyone should read my article, “Growing Slow Is Mandatory” in the July/August Marathon & Beyond!
You can find a look at the future of running in my story, “The Church of the Holy Oval” in the July/August issue of Level Renner!
(This is the 15th post in a series that started here)
Here’s another look at the 5K splits for Boston 2014, this time divided up by age:
And here are the splits for Chicago 2013:
We saw earlier that when we divide up runners by finishing time, the faster runners tend to manage their effort so they have little energy left to accelerate at the end.
When we divide runners by age, it appears that the younger the runner, the more they seem to have left in the tank to expend by speeding up over the last 2K. The older runners don’t pick up the pace as much, if at all.
Even without the data to confirm it, I’m willing to bet that there’s a positive correlation between age and marathon experience. There are always exceptions – 27-year-olds with 15 marathons under their belt, and 60-year-olds running their first marathon – but customarily, the older you are, the more marathons you’ve run.
We generally assume that people learn through experience. Should we assume that experience teaches runners what the fastest runners seem to know, that they do better when they run more aggressively, using up energy earlier instead of saving it for the sprint to the finish?
Or that experience mellows older runners, making them less competitive, less likely to push as hard as possible at the end.
I know a lot of older runners. I’m betting on the former.
We’ll take another look at gender differences in my next post in this series.