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Br J Sports Med 38:408-412 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2002.003566
  • Original article

Master’s performance in the New York City Marathon 1983–1999

  1. P Jokl,
  2. P M Sethi,
  3. A J Cooper
  1. Department of Orthopaedics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Jokl
 Department of Orthopaedics, Yale University, Yale Physicians Building, 800 Howard Avenue, New Haven, CT 06512, USA; peter.joklyale.edu
  • Accepted 16 June 2003

Abstract

Background: Physical activity in older people is believed to slow down the natural aging process through its effects on disuse atrophy.

Objectives: To show that elite master (age above 50) male and female athletes, as a group, have improved their running times over the last two decades at a greater rate than their younger counterparts.

Methods: Running time, age, and sex of all 415 000 runners in the New York City Marathon from 1983 to 1999 were examined using linear regression analysis.

Results: The number of master participants increased at a greater rate than their younger counterparts (p<0.05). Running times for the top 50 male and female finishers over the past two decades showed significantly greater improvement in the master groups than in the younger age groups (p<0.001).

Conclusions: Participation in the New York City Marathon is increasing at a higher rate in the master groups than in other age groups. Male and female masters continued to improve running times at a greater rate than the younger athletes, whose performance levels have plateaued. This is the largest study to compare master athletic performance with younger counterparts and men with women.

Footnotes