Recent studies investigating elite and master athletes in pool- and long-distance open-water swimming showed for elite swimmers that the fastest women were able to outperform the fastest men, and for master athletes that elderly women were able to achieve a similar performance to elderly men. The present study investigating age group records in runners from 5 km to 6 days aimed to test this hypothesis for master runners. Data from the American Master Road Running Records were analyzed, for 5 km, 8 km, 10 km, 10 miles, 20 km, half-marathon, 25 km, 30 km, marathon, 50 km, 50 miles, 100 km, 100 miles, 12 h, 24 h, 48 h and 144 h, for athletes in age groups ranging from 40 to 99 years old. The performance gap between men and women showed higher effects in events lengthening from 5 km to 10 miles (d = 0.617) and lower effects in events lengthening from 12 to 144 h (d = 0.304) running. Both other groups showed similar effects, being 20 km to the marathon (d = 0.607) and 50 km to 100 miles (d = 0.563). The performance gap between men and women showed higher effects in the age groups 85 years and above (d = 0.953) followed by 55 to 69 years (d = 0.633), and lower effects for the age groups 40 to 54 years (d = 0.558) and 70 to 84 years (d = 0.508). In summary, men are faster than women in American road running events, however, the sex gap decreases with increasing age but not with increasing event length.
Keywords: athlete; endurance; marathon; running; ultra-endurance.