Bronze [at my] age

I’ve started running again and discovered the weekly 5km park runs organised across the UK.

Yesterday’s 5km run at hilly Hampstead Heath was better than expected:

Hampstead Heath Park Run Results

My first thought was, “wow, 3rd, and at my age!.” But inspecting the table it’s quickly clear that I’m not relatively old compared to the other top finishers.

It was the second highest attended race in this location’s 3-yr history (183 finishers) so plenty of data to play with which I put into Excel…

In terms of straightforward averages by ages, or median times, I could see no patterns.

Focusing instead on we ‘elite’ runners, ahem:

Hampstead Heath Park Run Male Finishers Average Times

Considering the top 3 runners in each age group, it does seem that mid 30s is the sweet spot for this kind of distance (for fit non-professionals, at least). The effect is even more pronounced upon removing potential outliers and considering the times for the 3 runners finishing in 4th to 6th place.

Investigating a little on the interwebs, this seems to be a real relationship. For example, data regarding aging and endurance performance for 10ks shows this:

Anyway, hats off to Jason Merron who was running around with a baby-filled buggy and still finished in the top half. I don’t know what the adjustment factor is for that…