The age of peak performance in Ironman triathlon: a cross-sectional and longitudinal data analysis.

Abstract : BACKGROUND: The aims of the present study were, firstly, to investigate in a cross-sectional analysis the age of peak Ironman performance within one calendar year in all qualifiers for Ironman Hawaii and Ironman Hawaii; secondly, to determine in a longitudinal analysis on a qualifier for Ironman Hawaii whether the age of peak Ironman performance and Ironman performance itself change across years; and thirdly, to determine the gender difference in performance. METHODS: In a cross-sectional analysis, the age of the top ten finishers for all qualifier races for Ironman Hawaii and Ironman Hawaii was determined in 2010. For a longitudinal analysis, the age and the performance of the annual top ten female and male finishers in a qualifier for Ironman Hawaii was determined in Ironman Switzerland between 1995 and 2010. RESULTS: In 19 of the 20 analyzed triathlons held in 2010, there was no difference in the age of peak Ironman performance between women and men (p > 0.05). The only difference in the age of peak Ironman performance between genders was in 'Ironman Canada' where men were older than women (p = 0.023). For all 20 races, the age of peak Ironman performance was 32.2 +/- 1.5 years for men and 33.0 +/- 1.6 years for women (p > 0.05). In Ironman Switzerland, there was no difference in the age of peak Ironman performance between genders for top ten women and men from 1995 to 2010 (F = 0.06, p = 0.8). The mean age of top ten women and men was 31.4 +/- 1.7 and 31.5 +/- 1.7 years (Cohen's d = 0.06), respectively. The gender difference in performance in the three disciplines and for overall race time decreased significantly across years. Men and women improved overall race times by approximately 1.2 and 4.2 min/year, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Women and men peak at a similar age of 32--33 years in an Ironman triathlon with no gender difference. In a qualifier for Ironman Hawaii, the age of peak Ironman performance remained unchanged across years. In contrast, gender differences in performance in Ironman Switzerland decreased during the studied period, suggesting that elite female Ironman triathletes might still narrow the gender gap in the future.
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Extreme Physiology and Medicine, BioMed Central, 2013, 2 (1), pp.27. 〈10.1186/2046-7648-2-27〉
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Michael Stiefel, Beat Knechtle, Christoph Rüst, Thomas Rosemann, Romuald Lepers. The age of peak performance in Ironman triathlon: a cross-sectional and longitudinal data analysis.. Extreme Physiology and Medicine, BioMed Central, 2013, 2 (1), pp.27. 〈10.1186/2046-7648-2-27〉. 〈inserm-00868753〉

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