Modeling the Effect of Age in Sports Performance
Richard
De Veaux

Williams College, Williamstown

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 3:30pm

The Dipsea is a 100 year old 8 mile running event that starts in Mill Valley CA and ends at the Pacific Ocean near Stinson Beach. What makes the event unique is its handicap system. Each age group for men and women receive a handicap time. For example, the slowest group, the AAA group, comprised of men 74 years old and older, boys 6 and under, women 66 and older, and girls 7 and under, receive a 25 minute handicap. But what makes the event unique is that each group starts ahead of the scratch group by that amount. So first to leave, at 8:30 AM, is the AAA group. Finally 25 minutes later, the 19-30 year old men get to go. The winner is the one who crosses the finish line first.

But, what's a fair age and sex handicap? The past fifty years have witnessed an incredible improvement in the sport performances of "masters" athletes – those over 35 years old. Men and women as old as 104 have been pushing the envelope of what's possible for their age group every year in running and swimming events. Using hundreds of thousands of individual events from the US masters swimming organization and several running events, I will attempt to model the average deterioration in performance that one can expect from age 35 to 100 in various events and distances and will compare my model to the Dipsea event to see which one is fairer.

Richard De Veaux

C. Carlisle and Margaret Tippit Professor of Statistics

Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Williams College

 

More information on Richard De Veaux may be found at http://web.williams.edu/mathematics/rdeveaux/