F-23 Free Communication/Poster - Cycling and Running: JUNE 3, 2011 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM: ROOM: Hall B
There is a sex difference in marathon performance but whether there is a sex difference in the age of peak performance in marathon running among the elite runners is not known.
PURPOSE: To determine (i) if there is a sex difference in the age of the elite marathon runners for the Olympics and World Championship (ii) if the sex difference in performance altered across the years that women have participated in the marathon.
METHODS: Age at time of competition and running times of the first five placed men and women runners who competed in the Olympic (every four years since 1984) and International Athletic Association Federation World Championship (1983, 1987 and every two years from 1991) marathons were analyzed. Data from 95 men and 95 women were included in the analysis.
RESULTS: The top five placed men and women were of similar age for the Olympics (28.1 ± 4.4 vs. 28.6 ± 4.0 years, respectively) and World Championships (30.0 ± 3.7 vs. 28.0 ± 4.1 years, respectively, P>0.05). The first-placed men and women were also of similar age for the Olympics (27.0 ± 6.2 vs. 28.4 ± 4.9 years, respectively) and World Championships (29.3 ± 4.5 vs. 28.5 ± 4.2 years, respectively). Thus the mean age for the first five men and women across both marathons was 28.5 ± 4.0 years and for first place was 28.4 ± 4.7 years. There was no difference in age across place of the runners (P>0.05) and no difference in age across the years for either marathon (P>0.05). Furthermore, the sex difference did not alter across the place of the runner or across the years analyzed for either marathons (P<0.05). However, the first placed men were faster than women for both the Olympics (10.9 ± 1.7%) and World Championships (10.2 ± 1.7 %). Similarly, the first five placed men were faster than women for both the Olympics (11.1 ± 1.4 %) and World Championships (10.6 ± 1.6%). This sex difference in running velocity varied across the years but not systematically.
CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that elite men and women runners physiologically peak at a similar age for marathon running performance. The sex difference in performance of marathon runners in the premiere marathons varied across years but has not systemically decreased or varied since the 1980s.