Guide to Age Grading
What is Age-Grading?
Age Grading is a way to compare the performances of all runners, regardless of age or gender.
How does it work?
To put all performances on a level playing field, Age Grading uses tables of age Factors and age Standards to calculate an Age Graded Time and an Age Graded Score (%). The participant’s Finish Time, Age, and Gender must exist in the results for the Age Graded Time and Age Graded % to be calculated for that race.
What is Age Graded Time?
The Age Graded Time is what your time theoretically would have been (or will be) during your prime running years (typically your 20’s and a portion of your 30’s, depending on the race distance).
What is Age Graded %?
The Age Graded % calculates your time as a percentage of the “ideal” time for your age and gender at that distance. This % allows you to judge your performance using an achievement percentile. The following “Achievement Levels” have been developed to indicate the level of performance achieved by an athlete:
100% = Approximate World Record
90-99% = Word Class
80-89% = National Class
70-79% = Regional Class
60-69% = Local Class
What can it be used for?
You can use the Age Graded Time and Age Graded % to:
- Compare your current performance to previous races over the same distance.
- Compare your (or another runners) performance to other runners of any age or either gender.
So, while your actual finish times may get slower as you get older, you could actually improve your Age Graded Time and Age Graded % over the years!
Suppose a 50-year-old female runs a marathon in 3:51:48. She would get an Age Graded Time of 3:23:53 and an Age Graded % of 66.42%. This is because, according to the Age Graded tables, the ideal finish time for a 50-year-old female in the marathon is 2:33:57, and that’s about 34% faster (28 minutes) than the runner in our example ran.
Now, suppose a 25-year old female also ran the marathon in 3:38:15. While that is faster than the 50-year-old, the performance of the younger runner is not really better when compared to the woman that is twice her age. In fact, the Age Graded Time of the 25-year-old stays the same (because she’s in her prime running years) and her Age Graded % is 62.05%, so the older woman wins!
On the other hand, let’s say a 33-year-old male runs a 5K in 19:48. His Age Graded Time would be 19:42 and his Age Graded % would be 73.15%. Say that same runner participates in another 5K when he is 58 years old, and he finishes in 24:06. Which was his better race? Well, although his time was slower, his Age Graded Time when he was 58 years old was equivalent to finishing in 18:39 (77.25%). So even though his time was slower, he actually got better with age!
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