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Age Grading

During the running boom of the 1970’s, it became obvious that growing

population of aging ‘baby boomer’ runners could not compete on the basis of

raw times with their younger brethren, which led to the establishment of an

official Master category beginning with athletes age 40 and older.  This was

only a temporary solution because our leaders soon found that 60 and 70

year olds could not compete for prizes with the 40 and 50 year olds.  Thus,

they formed 10 year age groups, but we had a similar problem with 59 year

olds having to compete with 50 year olds.  Five year age groups were

established, but with the same problem persisting.  What was needed was a

measuring technique that would level the playing field amongst all runners –

old and young alike.

In 1989, World Association of Veteran Athletes (WAVA) developed a set of

tables in one year age increments for all standard events under their

purview.   These tables allow a runner to have her/his raw time converted to

an equivalent open time using what is known as age factors.  If races, indeed,

awarded all/most of their awards on the basis of age graded times it would be

the most level playing field of all, irrespective of whether the athlete is 16 or

26 or 66.  The more common use of these tables involves what are called age

standards and that allows the athlete to determine her/his performance level

based upon a derived percentile.

The percentile classifications are:

100% - Approximate World Record Level

Over 90% - World Class Level

Over 80% - National Class Level

Over 70% - Regional Class Level

The use of Age Grading at Master Long Distance Running (LDR) Grand Prix

Championship events allows a comparison of all runners’ performances at

different ages within the event. This allows each runner’s performance to be

judged against a performance standard for their single year age at the race

distance. Thus, runners of different ages can compare their races relative to

others in the same race with the age factor taken into account by the use of

the Age-Graded Tables. These tables, first developed in 1989, were updated

in 1994, 2002, 2006, 2010, and most recently in January of 2015. These age-

graded results do not supplant or replace any scoring system already in place

to award finish places and awards, rather they serve as an additional system

to compare performances in that race across all age divisions.

The most current set of these age-grading tables is located at the USATF

website at:

If the timing company for your race does not calculate your age grades, you

can do your own calculations or there are age grade calculators available.

The age-grading calculator for LDR is located at:

Use of these percentages allows every runner to compare their performances

with every other runner, irrespective of age and with themselves as they go

through their own journey of aging.

If you wish a detailed technical and historical explanation of age grading,

please go to Alan Jones’ website at:

Updated 6-10-2017.

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