Is There A Sex Difference In Performance And Participation Of Marathon Runners With Increased Age?: 2770: Board #69 June 3 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Stevens, Alyssa A.; Hunter, Sandra K. FACSM

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2011 - Volume 43 - Issue 5 - p 777
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000402162.63382.da
F-23 Free Communication/Poster - Cycling and Running: JUNE 3, 2011 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM: ROOM: Hall B

Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI.


(No relationships reported)

There is a sex difference in marathon performance but how this alters with increased age is not fully understood.

PURPOSE: To (i) determine whether the sex difference in the marathon performance alters with increased age, and, (ii) examine participation rates of men and women in the marathon across age groups.

METHODS: Running times of the first five placed men and women runners and numbers of men and women finishers who competed in the New York City (NYC) marathon were analyzed. Data from as many years as was available online was retrieved (12 years: 1998 to 2009). The running times of 1650 men (n = 854) and women (n = 796) were included in the analysis.

RESULTS: Running velocity of the first five men and women was greatest for the 25-29 and 30-34 year olds with a significant decline from 35 years onward (P<0.001). The men were faster than women across all age groups (P<0.001). The sex difference in running velocity was least for runners 30-34 years and 35-39 years (11.1% for both) and increased across age groups (P<0.05) to 80-84 years (36.4%). The number of men and women runners who finished the NYC marathon increased steadily from 31,540 (1998) to 43,477 (2009) with the largest number of runners in the 30-39 year and 40-49 year age groups. The ratio of men to women decreased from 2.56 in 1998 to 1.96 in 2003 and then plateaued until 2009 (1.88). In 2009, the ratio of men to women finishers was 1.02 for the 20-29 year olds and gradually increased across the age groups until 70-79 years (4.56).

CONCLUSIONS: Both the sex difference in marathon performance and the ratio in the number of men to women finishers increased gradually with advancing age. Thus, sex differences in physiology and sociological factors that influence participation rates of men and women may differ with increased age in their contribution to the sex difference in performance.

© 2011 American College of Sports Medicine