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At the end of the day though, a race is a race. The point is trying to beat as many people as possible. It is about who does the distance in the least time. Whilst there is some merit in age groups etc. actually there are a whole host of things that determine how quickly we can run, so you could end up with myriads of silly categories - leg length, slow twitch/fast twitch ratio, amount of training done, etc etc.
The great thing about running is although you may not be competitive with the people right at the front of the pack, you can always be competitive with the people directly around you, and that for me is whta racing is about, not just people who fall into a similar convenient bracket. I had a fantastic race last time out with the first two ladies in the race. We were in different categories (me M40), yet we all had a right old go competing against each other for our overall place, just as it should be.
Run Wales makes some good points. I suppose the trick is to take the results and present them in as many ways as possible. What may be of great interest to one may be of little or no interest to other. It is not difficult, time consuming or expensive to do this . A race I have an involvement with - the Halewood 5K takes the monthly results as keyed in and produces each view for the effort of one button click which are then uploaded to the web site
As to what interest there is in any ot the alternative views , for those who view the results
26 % look at how their PB compares to all others who have ever run the race
21 % look at how their age graded performnace compares to all others.
14 % look at the points score which is points from each race run but uses age grading rather than actual times
12 % look at best times by age category
9 % look at club figures
9 % look at details of top 3 placers across all races
8 % look at the grand prix which is just total time from 3 best races.
Regarding race prizes (which was the question originally asked), I could quote many strange examples of how prizes are awarded. The best (worst?) I can think of is the Leeds Abbey Dash. Over 50 prizes are only awarded to runners aged 50-54, over 55 prizes to runners aged 55-59 over 60 to runners aged 60-64 etc. Fewer prizes are awarded in the older age groups, 3 over 50, 2 over 55, one over 60. So it's not unusual that, for example the 2nd fastest 60 year old would be faster than the 2nd fastest 55 year old, but the 55 year old with the slower time gets a prize & the 60 year old with the faster time doesn't get a prize. The race is actually promoted by Age UK !!
Also at the Abbey Dash the prize money is allocated much more favourably to the younger age groups. Relating prizes to the number of runners in each age group, the awards are far more generous for younger runners than older ones.
I am 62 and have run most of my life. It is just as hard now as it was when I was young. I still have the competitive drive to do as well as I can.
Of course as a younger person, the goal is to win or get as close to that as possible, or set a pb for the distance covered.
These days one is happy to complete the course, but the best thing in recent years that has made my day is age-grading. It is wonderful to discover that you had the best age-graded performance of the day..
UKA rules now use the horrible American term of "Master" rather than Vet, and define Masters as 35+ for both men & women. Possibly valid for Track & Field, but mad for road running.
Fortunately Race Directors tend to ignore that nonsense, and do their own thing regarding vet categories.
Yes, the London GFA categories are an absolute disgrace!