Master’s performance in the New York City Marathon 1983–1999
- Correspondence to: Professor Jokl Department of Orthopaedics, Yale University, Yale Physicians Building, 800 Howard Avenue, New Haven, CT 06512, USA;
- Accepted 16 June 2003
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.