Aging’s Effects on Marathon Performance: Insights From the New York City Race

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Alejandro Santos-Lozano
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Ana M. Angulo
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Pilar S. Collado
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Fabian Sanchis-Gomar
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Helios Pareja-Galeano
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Carmen Fiuza-Luces
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Alejandro Lucia
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Nuria Garatachea
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Most studies on aging and marathon have analyzed elite marathoners, yet the latter only represent a very small fraction of all marathon participants. In addition, analysis of variance or unpaired Student t tests are frequently used to compare mean performance times across age groups. In this report the authors propose an alternative methodology to determine the impact of aging on marathon performance in both nonelite and elite marathoners participating in the New York City Marathon. In all, 471,453 data points corresponding to 370,741 different runners over 13 race editions (1999–2011) were retrieved. Results showed that the effect of aging on marathon performance was overall comparable in both sexes, the effect of aging differed between the fastest and slowest runners in both sexes, and the magnitude of the sex differences was higher in the slowest runners than in the fastest ones. Current data suggest that the biological differences between sexes allow men to have better marathon performance across most of the human life span.

Santos-Lozano, Sanchis-Gomar, and Fiuza-Luces are with the Research Inst of the Hospital 12 de Octubre, Madrid, Spain. Angulo is with the Dept of Economic Analysis, and Garatachea, the School of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain. Collado is with IBIOMED, University of León, León, Spain. Pareja-Galeano and Lucia are with the European University, Madrid, Spain.

Address author correspondence to Alejandro Santos-Lozano at asanl@unileon.es.
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