Now that we’ve been age-grade scoring Pamakid race results for the past two years, I am hearing the question, “what exactly is age-graded scoring?”
There are age-graded tables that use a complicated formula to compare a mark or time in an event to the world record mark or time in the same event (typically made by someone 20-30 years old). Using these tables you can look up the “correction factor” for each age in each event.
The “correction factor” for a 35-year-old man running the 100 meters is 0.9893. So if a 35-year old runs 12.13 seconds for the 100 meters, his “equivalent” mark as an open runners is 12.00 seconds (12.13 times 0.9893).
You have to be a real mathematician to understand how these “correction factors” are calculated. There are a number of slightly different tables because of different opinions on how to calculate an appropriate “correction factor.” If you are interested in seeing one version of “correction factors,” click here for an excel file.
Correction factor tables were initially developed for masters track & field for the multi-events (decathlon, heptathlon, etc.) but there is data for every imaginable distance from 50 meters to 200 kilometers and field events, so the ability to cross compare performances is endless.
My research suggests that the first tables appeared in 1989 and were revised in 1994 and again in 2006. The math is complicated enough that most people use an online calculator to determine age-graded scores. Another benefit of the online calculator is that the computer does the time consuming conversion of taking a time in minutes and seconds, converting it to all seconds, making the age-graded calculation, and converting it back to minutes and seconds. By inputting gender, age, distance, and time, the calculator will produce an age-graded score. The age-graded score is a number between zero and 100. 100 is world-record level, a 90 is world-class, an 80 is national class, and a 70 is regional class. The age-graded number represents what percent your age corrected equivalent performance is away from the world record.
Women’s 1500 meters. World record is 232.47 seconds, more commonly known as 3:52.47.
A 23-year old woman has a “correction factor” of 1 in the 1500. So if a 23-year old with the initials S.R. runs the 1500 in 4:00.33, using the “correction factor” of 1, you get an “equivalent time” of 4:00.33 (or 240.33 seconds). The existing world record divided by the equivalent time multiplied by 100 yields an age-graded score of 96.73.
A 40-year old woman has a “correction factor” of 0.9459 in the 1500. So if a 40-year old woman on a new low-fat diet runs the 1500 in 6:00.00, using the “correction factor” of 0.9459, you get an “equivalent time” of 5:40.52 (or 340.52 seconds). The existing world record divided by the equivalent time multiplied by 100 yields an age-graded score of 68.27.
|Age||Time||Correction Factor||Equivalent Time||% of World Record||Age-Graded Score|
|23||4:00.33||1||4:00.33 = 240.33 sec||232.47/240.33 X 100||96.73|
|40||6:00.00||0.9459||5:40.52 = 340.52 sec||232.47/340.52 X 100||68.27|
Since world records change, these web calculators-to be completely accurate-have to be updated every time there’s a new world record (thanks a lot Usain Bolt). For the official Pamakid racing team age-graded scoring, I use the web calculator that uses the 2006 factors at: http://www.howardgrubb.co.uk/athletics/wmalookup06.html. That means it is accurate to the best calculations of “correction factors” in 2006 and as of the world records in 2006.
I like age-graded scores because we can objectively compare results between people from different distance races, different genders, and different ages. It’s also fun to look at all your races and see if you score significantly higher (or lower) at a particular race distance. Maybe that data hints at what your strengths and weaknesses are? Many of us are very consistent, always scoring around the same range no matter the distance. Of course, there’s always that pesky matter of aging. Matching that PR in the 5K from when you were 27-years old may seem out of reach, but perhaps you can PR in the 5K in terms of your age-graded score?
Another applicable use of the age-graded scores is to predict performances in various distances. If you just scored 75.67 for your 1:01:00 in a 10 mile race, you can calculate what a 75.67 age-graded score would be in the half marathon (1:20:48). This is of course most accurate when the distances are similar. The online calculator doesn’t know what your long run is or how many miles a week you train so when it says that Frank with his 81.58 score in the 100 meters should run 2:32:57 for the marathon, don’t take it too seriously.
Anecdotally, it appears that the tables favor the shorter track races. We haven’t had many women race on the track, but last year our top five age-graded scores were all men, and they were all from the track: Paul (800 and 1500), Frank (100 and 200), and Justin (1600).
For the Pamakids, age-graded scoring allows us to compare race performances and it’s an excuse to hand out Sports Basement gift certificates at the Holiday Gala. To appreciate age-graded scoring you don’t have to understand the calculation in its entirety. Just make sure you have on your Pamakid uniform or shirt when you compete and submit your result, including the distance of the race and your age on race day, to me so that I can include you in the comprehensive age-graded results tracking chart.