Reeling in the Years

By: Jim Woolfitt

If you run races of varying distances – 5Ks, 10Ks, 5 miles, half marathons, etc. – have you ever wondered which particular race might have been your best effort for the year or for your career? It’s sort of like the expression ”comparing apples & oranges”. In the last 13 months I’ve posted a 22:58 5K, a 1:49:26 half marathon & a 49:39 10K. Which was the better effort? In this blog, I’m posting links to 2 resources which will help you compare different distances.

 First, I’m posting a link to the WMA age graded calculator: (You'll likely have to copy & paste this link in your browser.) It defaults to females – guys you will need to adjust the gender or you’ll get some off the chart results.  

 If I understood correctly, my friend Jim Banks has a spread sheet covering all the years & all the races he has run with an age grade by each entry. He uses the WMA age graded calculator which changes yearly. When I turn 62, I won’t have to run quite as fast to get the same scores I recorded as a 61 year old.

This tool not only helps to compare different years & different distances, it can be used for a 3rd purpose. If you have some friendly competition with another runner who may be a different gender and/or who is several years different in age, then you may use the age graded calculator to compare results for the two of you.

 My 5K time, recorded on a flat course in News Martinsville, WV, age grades to 69.82. I was 60 at the time. The half marathon grades at 67.51 while the 10K grades at 67.77. The half marathon was run on the fast, point-to-point Decker’s Creek course which has an elevation drop from start to finish. The 10K was recorded at the Greater Clarksburg 10K, a challenging course. The age gradings are based on established age records.

 The Washington Report has established a set of formulas whereby you may convert all standard distances to a 10K. The formula for converting 5K times is to multiply by 2.086. My 5K effort at New Martinsville converts to a 10K time of 47:55. For a half marathon, one divides by 2.204. My result at Deckers Creek converts to 49:39. Both the WMA age graded calculator & the Washington Running Report give a slight nod to the Clarksburg 10K as the slightly better effort as compared to my effort at the half marathon.

 The Washington Running Report’s also has age benchmarks. These benchmarks are used to rank runners in 5 year increments starting with the 35-39 age group. They also rank open runners. I have been running races since 1983 but I never bettered the benchmark times until 2012. (I turned 60 in late 2011.) A 49:45 10K or equivalent time is the benchmark for males 60-64. The gap for the male benchmark for 55-59 is 43:55. I’m not sure why there is a difference of 5:50 between these 2 age groups. By the way, there are about 80 runners in the 60-64 age group standings who would be ahead of me if I moved to the DC area.

 As the old saying goes, “A dollar short & a day late” or actually a dollar short & a day early. I ran a 10K in 41:51 at age 48 ¾ . That time would have met the

50-54 benchmark of 42 flat. It age grades at 72.18.

 Age Group         Men            Women

 Open              34:20          41:15

 19 & Under     38:20          46:05

 35-39             36:40          44:10

 40-44             38:20          46:05

45-49             39:45          48:45

50-54             42:00          51:45

55-59             43:55          54:30

60-64             49:45          62:05

 65-69             52:50          75:00

 70-74             56:20       1:29:40

 75-79          1:32:30        1:39:00

 80 & over    1:45:00         1:50:00

  From the Washington Running Report

 Distance               Men     Women

5K                     2.086   2.082
4M                     1.599   1.601
8K                     1.2685  1.2695
5M                     1.261   1.261
10K                    -----   -----
12K                    1.215   1.215
15K                    1.538   1.543
10M                    1.662   1.664
20K                    2.095   2.099
1/2 Marathon     2.204   2.213
25K                    2.65    2.656
30K                    3.226   3.237
20M                    3.479   3.492  
Marathon            4.66    4.678

The Washington Running Report is apparently
getting ready to revise their runner ranking system. 
This is a link to their website
You'll likely need to copy & paste this link in your browser, too.


The title for this blog is taken from the Steely Dan song. I originally thought this blog might appeal to older runners but I think the tools for comparing

races of varying distances are interesting for runners of any age.


Our goal is to help our community
by promoting fitness and
raising millions for charity.

Our Featured Races

Sign up for our Newsletter!