The Ageing Runner – Part 4 Long distance

If you missed part 1 you can find it here, part 2 is here, part 3 is here.

When we started Poole parkrun the attendance was well below two hundred runners each week which made it easy to get to know everybody. As the London Marathon rolled around in the April, I was excited to follow runners like Liz Yelling, who was aiming at an Olympic place, and Steve Way, who’d run three consecutive 2hr19s. But it wasn’t just the elites who caught my interest, I’d got to know runners of all abilities and using the online tracking kept an eye on a variety of people who’d be running from over four hours through to those attempting to run sub-3.

One of the success stories was Dave Cartwright, who ran a sub-2hr55 marathon on his way to being the fastest man in the 60-64 age group that day. Footage of him crossing the finish line was doubly amusing as he was shown on BBC TV patting model Nell McAndrew on the shoulder who, despite being over twenty years younger, had finished only just ahead of him. Now in his seventies, Dave is still running round Poole parkrun in under twenty-two minutes and completing Blackmore Vale half marathon in under 1hr40. These times are fantastic to most people and yet, they’re not close to the times of the best in his age group as we shall see.

Recently two V55s, Andrew Ridley and Duncan Cooper came 8th and 9th in a field of over seven hundred runners. Their times were 16:27 and 16:35 respectively. Andrew’s age-graded time equates to 95% but his efforts also give insight into how slow decline can be. He set his Poole parkrun PB of 16:15 having only just turned fifty, yet here he is seven years later running only twelve seconds slower. Barely two seconds decline per year. I know Andrew trains very hard to keep his speed intact for 800m racing.

Age group world records for 5000m

TimeAthleteDateTimeAthleteDate
World Record12:35Joshua Cheptegei14-Aug-20 14:07Letesenbet Gidey07-Oct-20
V3512:54Bernard Lagat22-Jul-11 14:34Edith Masai02-Jun-06
V4013:07Bernard Lagat20-Aug-16 15:05Joanne Pavey05-Jun-14
V4514:24Lucien Rault19-Jun-82 15:56Nicole Leveque01-Jun-96
V5014:53Sean Wade25-Mar-16 16:51Gitte Karlshøj23-Jun-09
V5515:30Keith Bateman05-Jan-11 17:29Silke Schmidt27-Jun-15
V6015:56Yoshitsugu Iwanaga14-Nov-20 17:59Silke Schmidt20-Sep-19
V6516:39Derek Turnbull13-Mar-92 20:08Kathryn Martin28-Oct-16
V7018:16Ron Robertson09-Jul-11 20:56Angela Copson25-Jun-17
V7519:07Ed Whitlock23-Jul-06 23:31Lavinia Petrie28-Apr-19
V8020:20Jose Vicente
Rioseco Lopez
04-Sep-21 25:40Yoko Nakano12-Sep-18
V8524:04Ed Whitlock30-Jul-16 27:38Yoko Nakano23-Nov-21
V9030:00Yoshimitsu Miyauchi20-Sep-14 
V9539:43Antonio Nacca04-May-19 

Age group world records for the 10,000m

TimeAthleteDateTimeAthleteDate
World Record26:11Joshua Cheptegei07-Oct-20 29:01Letesenbet Gidey08-Jun-21
V3526:51Haile Gebrselassie24-May-08 30:53Joanne Pavey03-Aug-12
V4027:49Bernard Lagat01-May-16 31:25Sinead Diver28-Sep-19
V4529:44Kevin Castille17-Mar-17 32:34Evy Palm04-Sep-88
V5030:49Sean Wade01-Apr-16 35:06Fiona Matheson16-Oct-11
V5531:52Keith Bateman26-Mar-11 36:47Sally Gibbs11-Nov-19
V6033:40Yoshitsugu Iwanaga28-Nov-20 37:58Mariko Yugeta14-Nov-20
V6534:42Derek Turnbull15-Mar-92 41:40Angela Copson05-Aug-12
V7038:04Ed Whitlock09-Jul-01 44:25Angela Copson28-Jul-17
V7539:25Ed Whitlock21-Jul-06 50:01Melitta
Czerwenka-Nagel
28-Aug-05
V8042:40Ed Whitlock09-Jul-11 51:47Yoko Nakano06-May-18
V8551:08Ed Whitlock12-Aug-16 1:26:15Vladylena Kokina21-Sep-14
V901:09:28Gordon Porteous17-Oct-04 

Age group world records for the marathon

TimeAthleteDateTimeAthleteDate
World Record2:01:39Eliud Kipchoge16-Sep-18 2:14:04Brigid Kosgei13-Oct-19
V352:03:59Haile Gebrselassie28-Sep-08 2:19:19Irina Mikitenko28-Sep-08
V402:06:25Ayad Lamdassem24-Feb-22 2:19:52Helalia Johannes06-Dec-20
V452:14:23Bernard Lagat29-Feb-20 2:28:34Catherine Bertone23-Sep-17
V502:19:29Titus Mamabolo20-Jul-91 2:31:05Tatyana Pozdnyakova06-Mar-05
V552:25:56Piet van Alphen19-Apr-86 2:50:40Jenny Hitchings03-Nov-19
V602:30:02Tommy Hughes25-Oct-20 2:52:13Mariko Yugeta31-Jan-21
V652:41:57Derek Turnbull12-Apr-92 3:07:51Kimi Ushiroda15-Dec-19
V702:54:48Ed Whitlock26-Sep-04 3:24:48Jeannie Rice29-Sep-19
V753:04:54Ed Whitlock15-Apr-07 3:53:42Yoko Nakano23-Nov-12
V803:15:54Ed Whitlock16-Oct-11 4:11:45Yoko Nakano26-Feb-17
V853:56:38Ed Whitlock16-Oct-16 5:14:26Betty Jean McHugh09-Dec-12
V906:46:34Ernest Van Leeuwen06-Mar-05 8:53:08Mavis Lindgren28-Sep-97

Notes on Masters world records

All data was updated from Wikipedia in mid-June 2022. The aim is not to create a comprehensive set of records but to give readers an indication of what is possible. I will periodically update these when I can.

Short sprint – “Run as fast as I can”

Recently the BBC ran an article on Emer McKee, who’s set a 5,000m world record for a twelve year old with a time of 16min40. She’s quoted as saying “Normally I’m just running as fast as I can and just waiting for it to be over,” which is pretty much how any all-out 5K or parkrun should feel.

Emer McKee – world record holder in the 5000m for 12-year-olds

Emer started at parkrun when she was nine and joined a local running club, Willowfield in East Belfast, and has been improving ever since, competing in a range of events from 60 metres up to parkrun but also including long jump and cross-country.

Three points I want to highlight from her story:

  1. As a member of a running club, she is getting decent structured coaching and sessions that enable her to make progress. Although the headline from the article implies she “runs as fast as she can” this refers to her races. It doesn’t necessarily apply to her training. Just going out and running the fastest you can every day in training will bring short term results but eventually you’ll see the gains stop.
  2. It’s taken her three years to reach this stage. She began running parkrun in 2017 and quickly made good progress twenty-nine minutes down to twenty-one by year end. Since then it has taken three years of training to build on that and get down to a sub-17 time.
  3. Being part of a club limits the amount of racing she does and gives time for training to develop. While she’s a regular parkrunner, unlike typical adult runners, the rest of her year is not spent entering 10Ks, half marathons and marathons. The club events she does are all completed within twenty minutes (usually significantly less) and therefore don’t require much recovery. By contrast, adults regularly enter distance races that require more recovery and therefore cut into their ability to train to improve.

The great thing about being twelve years old is she’s got her whole running career ahead of her. She turns up to her club and the coach has already decided what the session is and how it will help her (along with her clubmates) to improve. For the most part, her running priorities are defined by the club’s season.

The coaching of juniors is usually very good because the focus is on developing them, through a structured approach to training, for when they are adults. This approach is one I try to replicate for adults attending my Big Red Running sessions. Sessions build on previous weeks to enable progress in the long-term. If you would like to come to my session then please do. Check the homepage for details and if you have any questions by all means contact me for further info.