While even I, at 37, don’t feel like a spring chicken, it’s hard to miss the fast times posted by masters runners – currently age 40 and older – at events large and small. It’s not just a Portland thing, either – it’s happening across the U.S. And the governing entities that establish road race guidelines have noticed as well.
Alten Jahr, a representative for the Road Racing Coalition (RRC), has proposed that the term “Master” represent runners and walkers age 55+, rather than 40, where it currently is. This would, in his view, even out the playing field for the older runners who feel like there’s no way they can be competitive anymore with all the young 45-year old speedsters.
“It’s a matter of health, wealth, and stealth,” Jahr was recently quoted after the Houston Marathon. “Runners and walkers are living longer, healthier lives; they can afford better shoes and equipment – not to mention medical care for injuries; and many runners who would have considered themselves average in their earlier decades are now able to compete more at the local and regional level.”
The running community isn’t quite sure what this would mean for their sport. While some think it’s frivolous and arbitrary, others are excited about the potential for earning more accolades. “If the age for masters was upped to 55 … I think I would have gotten 2nd masters at the ORRC Y2K Half Marathon,” says one-time age-grouper Fiona Andele of Hillsboro. “But then again, maybe more runners in my age group would have shown up.”
The RRC is soliciting feedback to this proposal from its member running clubs. Run Oregon has received approval to collect feedback, even though we are not technically a club; so if you’d like to voice your opinion please email us or comment on our facebook page.
Will this change the face of racing? Maybe, maybe not – only time will tell.