August 2010 update: Some of the links on this page are wrong, thanks to a recent software upgrade. My apologies. I’ll fix them when I can. — Ken
(Scroll down for world and national masters age-group record links)
In early 1996, when I first posted British stat guru Peter Matthews’ records for “veterans,” everything seemed simple. Masters men were 40 and over, women 35 and up. Major bodies had their own age-group records. Nobody questioned them.
But then I began examining the record. Suddenly, mistakes and omissions began cropping up. I made a cottage industry of picking nits in Pete Mundle’s single-age records, an unofficial annual list, as well as the official records of USATF and WAVA (later renamed WMA).
The sad truth: Dozens of listed world and American records aren’t really the best legitimate performances on record. Even leaders of USA Track & Field and World Masters Athletics acknowledge flaws in their systems. Heck, the top masters record-keepers of Europe and the United States disagree on best marks. Now that the entry age for masters men has dropped to 35, even more errors appear in the record books. Indeed, marks from the Olympic Games and U.S. Olympic Trials are missing from the age-group record books.
What to do?
First off, face reality. We may never know the best adult age-group mark in a given event. The best we can do is keep hammering for justice and transparency in the record-ratification process, learn from others and not delude ourselves.
Second, search this site.
If you think Joan Nesbit is the best W40 American 1500-meter runner in history (per USATF masters records), think again.
If you think Allen Johnson never ran faster as an M35 short hurdler than 13.23 (per USATF masters records), think again.
If you think Carlos Lopes is the best M35 marathoner on record (per WMA records), think again.
Fact is, I’ve documented so many errors I can’t think straight. So my advice to reporters and officials wanting to cite a masters record: Watch your language. Don’t say Joe Track broke the M80 world record. Don’t refer to Jane Jumper setting a W45 American record. Instead, say Joe beat the listed world record, Jane raised the listed American record. That’s your fig leaf for accuracy.
Implicit in this phrasing: The real world record may be better.
End of rant. Beginning of links:
Wikipedia entry on masters athletics world records (best source yet)
All-time world masters rankings and records (unofficial)
All-time veterans rankings (for distance events)
World Single-Age Records (for distance events)
Peter Matthews’ 2009 edition of masters records for 35-39 and 40-up
Pete Mundle’s Masters Age Records (unofficial, PDF)
SELECTED NATIONAL RECORDS
Old masterstrack.com records page (updated in December 2007)
Any dead links? Have a records page to suggest? Write me!