When is a Vet not a Vet - AGs

I’ve done a few events over the last few years that are now putting 18-49 as one big AG and only awarding prizes to over 50s. This is even happening in quite big races like the 113.

I know that people are generally more healthy & fitter nowadays, and that due to uptake in the sport and people ageing, they are pulling the standards up. Certainly if you look at longer events, they are predominantly older males and 40-49 are the biggest AGs; in fact there are precious few people under 30!

However. I have believe it or not, been twentysomething and then thirtysomething, and would imagine like anyone who has done the sport in their 20s/30s and 40s, realise that actually we are not the same athlete we were in the other decades. I have definitely noticed changes over those years, and to place a 30-35 yr old against a 49 year old does not seem justified to me. Yes there are some very fast 49 year olds, but show me more than 1 or 2 in any decent sized domestic event. For me, ‘peak endurance’ in triathlon is probably 30-40, then a very small hit at 40; but when you get to mid 40s, to me, it really feels like something starts to change; that plateau gets harder to stay on; in particular the swimming gets harder.

What do people think? Particularly those clearly north of 40 who’ve been doing this for a long time.

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Before you answer @Matthew_Spooner RTFQ :wink:

Completely agree… I think the same applies the other side of the line… asking a 60 year old to race a 50 year old for a placing is just plain nonsense… i’m 51, nearly 52, and distinctly average in my AG, yet i’d give a decent 60 year old a run for their money, as there is a marked drop off in times past 55

Do my cycling and windsurfing medals from 25 years ago not count? :frowning:

Only if you support my hypothesis :wink:

My windsurfing medals are 10 years older than yours, so still wouldn’t be fair… :joy:

Windsurfing never counts for anything, ever. :rofl:

The 40-49 year old makes up for loss of fitness with more disposable income to buy more speed…

More seriously, I would say there is a big difference between 40 and 50. A 40 year old may not have the peak performance of someone 10 years younger, but they are close enough that experience (and an expensive bike) makes it a race. A 49 year old is not going to win an open event unless (i) they are an ex-pro cyclist or (ii) the kids don’t want to play anymore.

Awards are a funny thing though. At the local events I go to, it’s the same people picking up the awards every time, not really a race as there are 1 or 2 outstanding agegroupers who always take the prizes. I’m surprised 113 have gone 18-49, I would have thought it was a big enough event to offer more categories. I’m not even suggesting prizes, just make the categories available in the results so people can see where they finish relative to other old farts. If you want to restrict the prizes, then OK.

That’s a flawed argument though, bringing equipment and disposable income into it. There’s nothing in the rules saying a thirtysomething can’t buy a top-end bike too. In fact a lot of us had way more disposable income in our 30s :roll_eyes:

That’s it for me… truthfully, I’m not that bothered about a bit of cheap plastic that will gather dust somewhere, but I am genuinely motivated by how I stack up against other 50 to 54 year olds… seeing a list of results that is just spilt into under 50 and over 50 pisses me off quite a lot tbh

The other factor is, that with the same automated results platforms from the same few service provders used almost everywhere across the race calendar nowadays, it is ridiculously easy to do too!!!

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It’s why I jape with @Poet tbh, because I know he’s probably only got a few more years to nail his targets; I was still at my long distance best at his age, but the ensuing 8 years have seen a ‘small’ but appreciable decline on the same volumes.

I was only kidding about the bike, but the experience thing is relevant. I trained a lot smarter in my 40s than in my 30s, and as a result my times barely changed.

Yeah for me, being an almost life-long triathlete (with a break in my late 20s), I have seen ‘the changes’ over the decades, to compare & contrast.

But 30-39 years old work more, so train less, as they’ve new mortgages to pay and baby/pet mouths to feed.

Maybe introduce a category for part time workers/full time athletes, whilst you’re at it :wink:

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Yeah, I’m not paying £2k to fanny on abroad just to get a sub10.
I’ll get a sub3 marathon soon enough - I’ve another decade to do that.
I’ll get nowhere near my 35:01 10km time now, or my 17:07 5km one; as I just enjoy eating and drinking too much.
I refuse to stop doing either just for a time nobody (including me) gives a toss about.

Lakesman could be a sub10 in the UK, but it was massively short this year, so I’d rather not spend 6 months training for something and have the achievement questioned.

Saying this, I might end up working in Aberdeen or Brighton on a two year project - so it’s all in flux.

I doubt I’ll be laying on my death bed wondering “what if I did that sub10…” I’ll more likely be thinking how prudent I was putting more money into my pension than pissing around on my bike.

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Haven’t seen as much in triathlon’s yet, although smaller ones do have 10 year age groups.

There’s some running events that do it, and yes I think it’s unreasonable. Yes, there’s a few outliers and M40’s are still competitive but a lot aren’t and as Poet says I think they dedicate a bit more time to training as the kids might have grown up and they realise they need to in order to slow down the decline.

Doesn’t seem particularly fair that at 49.5, I’m racing against people up to 30 years younger in the same age cat.


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This way madness lies.

The issue is that you want to be recognised for your efforts at your age but the size of your pond is getting bigger with the expansion of AGs and your results may not be up where you want them. It’s frustrating ultimately irrelevant.

When you get out of the narrowly defined IM type races, you’ll find some have 10yr AGs, 15yr or none at all. Last year I raced a duathlon that had only 2 AGs: under 40 and over 40. I came 2nd in the over 40s at the age of 52 and was beaten by 2 mins by a guy clearly in his early 40s. No trophy for 2nd, no recognition at all. It doesn’t matter, that’s how it goes.

Decline with age is inevitable but how you deal with isn’t. Living in the past or trading on the ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’ isn’t really healthy. Giving it your all for your set of circumstances on that day is.

The reason I say this is because having been virtually bed ridden for 15mths, 6 operations and having hydrotherapy twice a day for 9mths to learn to walk again, you NEVER know what is around the corner and be thankful to race in any AG.

You have to re-frame things to learn how to be a peace with the athlete you are today, whatever that is. Trophies and place don’t matter really and if they do, there is a big bump in the road ahead for many.

Just go out, give it everything. If the AG cards don’t fall in your favour then that’s something we have to suck up. That doesn’t diminish from the effort you put in to get that time.


Completely agree (OP). Why mess with BTF age categories, however small the race. A sortable spreadsheet would suffice; no-one’s expecting age group prizes. A 19-49 category is not acceptable.

I am 52 and have been doing triathlons since my 20s. I have a mediocre road bike and no fancy kit, and I like it that way. I have other things to spend my money on. But I am competitive. It’s all about the taking part? Nah!!

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Perhaps I need to chill and be more like you, FP.

As soon as you arbitrarily create categories there will be winners and losers however wide or narrow they may be. I could be one day older than you and the youngest in my category when you’re the oldest in yours.
You see it in the Paralympics where the range of disabilities in a particular category is clearly advantageous to those at the more able end of it.
I never have been, and probably never will be, in contention for any kind of AG results which maybe clouds my judgement, but as far as I’m concerned there is a male & female winner and that’s it. (Not to get into the trans debate here)