Other Resources > Web Articles > AGE GRADING - CALCULATION NOTES
A Four-Part Series:
      Age Grading
      Age Grading - Calculation Notes
      Age Grading - Non-Standard Distances
      Age Grading - Calculator
WAVA has published a set of Standards Tables that present estimated "world best" times for all track events and "world best" distances for all field events. There is a table for each gender in each track and field, long-distance running, and racewalking event. Each table includes entries for each age from 5 through 100. These "world best" values were created by graphing the world records for each age in each gender-event group and then smoothing the graphs to provide a best estimate of what the world records should be at each age. (This process helps overcome age spikes in the world records -- ages at which the world record is obviously much higher or much lower than the records for the ages on either side of the "spiking" age.)
In general, the table values for those from age 20 through age 29-35 (depending on the event) are the fastest-farthest values, and those for younger and older competitors taper down to slower-shorter values. This reflects the general, real-world pattern of children getting "better" as they get older, reaching their peak performance level for some period during their 20's+, and then losing ground as they get older.
A second set of tables is published by WAVA. These Factor Tables are based on the Standards Tables and allow an individual (or race manager) to correct the performance of younger and older athletes to reflect what their time-distance would have been had they been in their peak performance years (i.e., 20-29+). By such a correction, for example, the 67-year old woman (noted on Page One of this section) racewalked the 5K in an adjusted time of 30:23. The Factor Tables are not listed at this Web site, but can be easily calculated by dividing the Standards Tables value for a 20-year old by the Standards Tables value for the age being analyzed.
The Standards Tables and the Factor Tables can be used to create two age-graded values useful to racewalkers:
  • A performance percentage estimates how a finish time compares to the "world best" time for the same age-gender-distance category. (For example, an 80% performance estimates the race pace to be 80% of a "world best" pace.) These percentages can be used to age grade a race -- or even several races (at different distances) over time. The person with the highest percentage WINS! Percentages are normally expressed to two decimal places (e.g., 73.68%).
  • An adjusted finish time estimates what a person's finish time would be if the competitor was in his or her prime (i.e., age 20-29+). Note that if a competitor IS in his or her prime, his or her adjusted finish time is the same as the actual finish time. Again, these times can be used to age grade a race. The person with the lowest, adjusted finish time WINS!
Both values noted above are calculated by the Calculator at this Web site.
To obtain the age-graded performance percentage achieved by a competitor in an event, divide the world-best time (in seconds) for the competitor's age-gender group in that event by the competitor's time (in seconds) as follows:
world-best time in competitor's age-gender group (in seconds)
percentage = -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
competitor's race time (in seconds)
In the example shown on Page One, we said that the 67-year old woman had a better age-graded performance than the first-place finisher in the race. Using the formula shown above, our statement was derived as follows:
  • A world-best time for 67-year old women in a 5K racewalk is estimated to be 27:00 (or 1620 seconds). Our 67-year old woman finished the race in 41:28 (or 2488 seconds). Her finish was 65.11% of a world-best performance in her age-gender group (1620 ÷ 2488).
  • A world-best time for a 23-year old man in the same event is estimated to be 17:58 (or 1078 seconds). Our 23-year old man finished the race in 28:04 (or 1684 seconds). His finish was only 64.01% of a world-best performance in his age-gender group (1078 ÷ 1684).
To obtain the age-graded finish time for a competitor in an event, divide the world-best time (in seconds) of a 20-ish, same-gender competitor in that event by the world-best time (in seconds) of competitor's age-gender group in that event, and multiply the result times the competitor's actual time (in seconds). Then convert the final results (in seconds) back to a standard time format (e.g., H:MM:SS). The formula is:
world-best time of 20-ish female
    adjusted time = ---------------------------------------------------- X competitor's time
world-best time at competitor's age
and in our Page One example of the 67-year old woman, the formula would play out as follows (where the world-best time of a 20-ish female is 1187 seconds):
adjusted time =   -------- X 2488   =   .7327 X 2488   =   1823   =   30:23
In its booklet, WAVA suggests the following general guideline for evaluating performance percentages:
           100% = approximate world-record performance
     Over 90% = world-class performance
     Over 80% = nationally competitive
     Over 70% = regionally competitive
     Over 60% = locally competitive
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