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Four Seasons Competition - it's all about sex and age

Updated course (2014) shown below

The Four Seasons Competition is run four times each year; once in each season. 

The aim of each race, in addition to having fun, is to be the fastest runner for your age and sex, in comparison to world record times.

A map of the 5.1km course is shown below. All members are welcome to enter.  

How is the fastest runner determined?
President Doug Fulford, our resident mathematical genius, has come up with a method of working out the fastest runner in the club.  

Typically when we contest a fun run we are ranked on the basis of the time we take to complete the course, in other words fastest (average speed) through to the slowest. Often places are also given within gender and age category.

But whose result was the most meritorious? How do you compare the time of a sixty year old woman with say a 29 year old man? Or with a nine year old girl? 

Alternatively you might be wondering if you are a better runner now than you were twenty years ago given that you are now twenty years older and can't be expected to be as fast as you were then. 

The best approach is probably one that was popularised by the World Association of Veteran Athletes (or WAVA). They developed a series of age and gender graded tables of times based on world records. 

There are two obvious problems to be overcome. Firstly world records keep getting broken so they present a moving target. Secondly there are particular records that seem to be very unique performances and some which appear dubious. 

So the standards are best set by developing smooth curves of “best fit” through these records disregarding records that seem out of keeping with the majority. 

There are a number of sites available on the Internet that provide “calculators” for adjusting times for age and gender. I reviewed five of these and found that no two were consistent (not that surprising given the above) and at least one had an error in its logic.

I decided to adopt the data provided by Alan Jones (not the radio broadcaster) which can be found at www.eliteracingsystems.com/2007_roadraces_results/agegrade.html.

I chose his data because it is up to date, there is a detailed description of its derivation and validation and because it distinguishes between road races and (athletics) track events. 

For the purposes of calculating your score in the Four Seasons Races the procedure is as follows: 
  • I take the standard (virtual world record) time for your age and gender for a 5km road race. 
  • That time is multiplied by 5.1/5.0 (because our race is over 5.1km) to give an adjusted time.
  • Your actual time is multiplied by 100 and divided by the adjusted time to give the percentage your time was of the adjusted standard time. 
  • Clearly the better your time was relative to the world record time the lower this percentage will be.
  • The percentage is subtracted from 600 to give your point score (adjusted up to the closest whole number). 

Summer 2013 - see PDF at foot of page

Four Seasons Race - Spring 2010

Four Seasons Race - Summer 2010

The higher this number is the better you have performed on a relative basis. If you ran at world record pace you would score 500 points, if you took twice world record time you would score 400 points. 

For those of you who like equations, if your actual time was a seconds for the 5.1km and the virtual world record for 5km is w seconds then your scores would be calculated as follows: 

s = 600 - [( 100 x a x 5.0 ) / ( w * 5.1 ) ] 
which is equivalent to: s = 600 - [ ( 98.039215686 x a ) / w ] or
s = 6 - [ ( 0.98039215686 x a ) / w ] 

Note: if we ran 5km rather than 5.1km the equation would be
 s = 6 - ( a / w ). 
Patrick V,
Feb 6, 2015, 11:04 PM