The Ageing Runner – Part 2 Sprinters

If you missed part 1 you can find it here

This series grew out of my attempts to write about Sports Psychology because it’s a topic which dominated my reading for a couple of decades. I wanted to impart the wisdom I’d learned along the way, but it’s a big topic ranging across all sorts of areas such as goal-setting, attributions, mental skills, relaxation and learning among many more; so being unsure of how to start writing it, I did the obvious thing and gave up for the time being!

During my research however, I looked up Dr Steve Peters to sharpen up on the details of his work. He’s famous for writing The Chimp Paradox; a best seller that brings together many of the ideas and methods he used while working as a sports psychologist for Great Britain Cycling to support their successful Olympic programme of the past two decades. Given his association with the cycling programme I was surprised to find out he’s been a highly successful Masters athlete in sprinting, to the extent that he won multiple gold medals at the World Masters Championships in the M50, M55 and M60 categories between 2005 and 2015.

Steve Peters competing in the British Masters

On the UK Athletics’ website, The Power of 10, there are records of his performances in the 100, 200 and 400 since 1996 when he was age forty-three up to pre-pandemic. It makes for interesting viewing to see the decline, or should I say lack of decline in his sprinting over that period. Even in his late sixties, he’s still running under 13s for 100m, under 26s for 200m and breaking a minute for 400m. There’s been a noticeable decline in the last couple of years which is more likely due to lack of competition or injury than age itself.

Would you have thought those times were possible for someone who was never an elite sprinter in the first place? At fifty I can’t even run the times he’s achieving in his late sixties. Not because it’s necessarily beyond me but because I’ve never trained specifically for them. How you train is a bigger determinant of your performance than your age.

Steve Peters is the World Champion for his age group, so he is obviously something of an outlier, but there are many former Olympians who are no longer competing who could be faster. Steve isn’t even the world record holder in his age categories. Below are tables of the age-graded world records for both men and women, updated in June 2022.

Age group world records for 100m

World Record9.58Usain Bolt16-Aug-09 10.49Florence Griffith Joyner16-Jul-88
V359.87Justin Gatlin30-Jun-19 10.74Merlene Ottey07-Sep-96
V409.93Kim Collins29-May-16 11.09Merlene Ottey03-Aug-04
V4510.72Willie Gault24-Jun-06 11.34Merlene Ottey12-Aug-06
V5010.88Willie Gault07-May-11 11.67Merlene Ottey13-Jul-10
V5511.3Willie Gault07-May-16 12.24Julie Brims13-Feb-21
V6011.7Ronald Taylor04-Jun-94 13.63Karla Del Grande18-Jul-14
V6512.31Damien Leake16-Jun-18 13.91Karla Del Grande11-Aug-18
V7012.77Bobby Whilden06-Oct-05 14.73Ingrid Meier30-Jun-17
V7513.25Kenton Brown03-Oct-20 15.03Carol LaFayette-Boyd04-Aug-18
V8014.35Payton Jordan10-May-97 16.26Kathy Bergen06-Jun-21
V8515.08Hiroo Tanaka25-Jun-17 18.49Christa Bortignon07-May-22
V9016.86Hiroo Tanaka01-May-21 23.15Mitsu Morita06-Oct-13
V9520.41Frederico Fischer30-Jun-12 30.16Elena Pagu28-Aug-21

Age group world records for 200m

World Record19.19Usain Bolt20-Aug-09 21.34Florence Griffith Joyner29-Sep-88
V3520.11Linford Christie25-Jun-95 21.93Merlene Ottey25-Aug-95
V4020.64Troy Douglas09-Aug-03 22.72Merlene Ottey23-Aug-04
V4521.8Willie Gault26-Apr-08 23.82Merlene Ottey27-Aug-06
V5022.44Willie Gault07-May-11 24.33Merlene Ottey18-Jul-10
V5523.24Willie Gault07-May-16 25.07Julie Brims07-Mar-21
V6024.00Ronald Taylor10-Jun-94 28.11Karla Del Grande22-Oct-13
V6524.65Charles Allie26-Jul-13 28.53Karla Del Grande05-Aug-18
V7025.75Charles Allie21-Jun-18 31.3Ingrid Meier02-Jul-17
V7527.73Robert Lida05-Aug-12 31.56Carol
V8029.54Hijiya Hisamitsu16-Sep-12 35.34Kathy Bergen06-Jun-21
V8531.69Hijiya Hisamitsu17-Sep-16 41.58Emiko Saito12-Nov-17
V9036.02Hiroo Tanaka23-May-21 55.62Mitsu Morita30-Jun-13
Ernst Mahlo
10-Sep-07 1:12.99Diane Friedman22-Jul-17

Age group world records for 400m

World Record43.03Wayde
van Niekerk
14-Aug-16 47.60Marita Koch06-Oct-85
V3544.54Chris Brown30-May-15 49.46Allyson Felix06-Aug-21
V4047.81Enrico Saraceni25-Jul-04 52.50Geisa Aparecida Coutinho09-Apr-21
V4549.09Allen Woodard18-Mar-17 56.14Angee Henry-Nott23-Jul-21
V5050.51Juan Luis
Lopez Anaya
16-Jul-21 57.66Marie Lande
V5552.24Charles Allie12-Jul-03 59.36Julie Brims23-Jan-21
V6053.88Ralph Romain22-Jul-95 1:04.3Caroline Powell12-Aug-15
V6556.09Charles Allie18-May-13 1:08.0Karla Del Grande12-Jul-19
V7057.26Charles Allie11-Sep-18 1:11.8Barbara Blurton10-Dec-20
V751:02.4Guido Müller28-Jun-14 1:19.5Christa Bortignon22-Aug-13
V801:10.0Hisamitsu Hijiya09-Sep-12 1:29.8Rietje Dijkman09-Sep-19
V851:17.1Earl Fee12-Jul-14 1:41.6Emiko Saito29-Apr-17
V901:29.2Earl Fee19-Jul-19 2:16.2Melitta
V952:21.8Orville Rogers12-Jul-13 3:21.0Diane Friedman27-Jul-19

It’s my guess that most runners, male or female, can’t even run the times being set by the 80-year-old women; let alone run close to the times for their own age or gender. It’s only when these runners get into their eighties that the times begin to noticeably degrade and I suspect this is as much down to circumstance, as it is ageing. There are fewer of these runners competing and most of them probably took it up later in life.

Lots of facts and figures so far but here’s a chance to enjoy watching M70 Charles Allie in action over 200m.

You can read Part 3 by clicking here