Sports Competition for Adults Over 40: A Participants Guide to 27 Sports
Sports Competition for Adults Over 40: A Participants Guide to 27 Sports
Sports Competition for Adults Over 40: A Participants Guide to 27 Sports

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Preface
The data in these summaries covers the five years from 2008 through 2012. The data consists of information on participation of adults over 40 in National Championships for 27 sports. Each summary provides insight into the dedication and enthusiasm with which these "mature" athletes challenge themselves on the fields, courts, and other sporting venues. In addition, it offers a broad picture of the current health of Masters Sports, showing the opportunities these sports have offered and how they compare with each other. The development and limitations of these data are described in the article titled "Introduction to Data Analysis." The analysis of each sport should be of interest to the participants of that sport. The comparisons among these 27 sports may also be useful in assessing the overall reach and success of sports competition for adults.

Introduction
USA Triathlon ("USAT")offers age-group competition to athletes from 19 to 80+. However, only those men and women over 40 years of age are included in this summary. The USAT Age Group National Championships include two separate disciplines -- Olympic and Sprint. The results of the Olympic Distance triathlon are used here. The Olympic Distance Triathlon consists of a 1.5 kilometer swim, a 40 kilometer bike ride, and a 10 kilometer run. As noted above, the following analysis covers the five years from 2008 through 2012 (the "Study Period").

Competitors by Gender
During the Study Period, 3,412 competitors, both men and women, took part in the USAT Age Group (Olympic Distance) National Championships. Table 1 presents the number of competitors in each year.

Table 1 - Triathlon Competitors Over 40 by Gender
Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total Average
Venue Portland, OR Tuscaloosa, AL Tuscaloosa, AL Burlington, VT Burlington, VT
Total Competitors Over 40 464 439 526 909 1074 3412 682
Men 278 287 347 561 642 2115 423
Women 186 152 179 348 432 1297 259

As Table 1 shows, the number of competitors over this period has increased dramatically. From 2008 to 2012, there was a 57% increase in the number of competitors over 40. During the same period the percentage of women competitors has been relatively consistent, ranging from 34% to 40%. These figures are consistent with the overall growth in USAT annual and one-day memberships which has swelled from 122,388 in 2000 to 550,446 in 2012. Females currently represent about 37% of all annual memberships.

Triathlon Competitors by Age
The USAT National Championships are organized into competitive classes based on gender and age group. For competitors over 40, all age groups are divided into 5-year increments (40-44, 45-49, 50-54, etc.). Table 2 shows the number of competitors by age group for the Study Period.

Table 2 - Triathlon Competitors Over 40 by Age Group
Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total Average
40-44 112 137 155 255 299 787 192
45-49 87 80 111 205 255 606 148
50-54 97 84 80 178 207 529 129
55-59 61 55 75 117 142 395 90
60-64 39 38 47 67 79 259 54
65-69 43 32 32 49 50 187 41
70-74 23 12 18 31 33 112 23
75-79 2 1 6 5 9 22 5
80+ 0 0 2 2 0 6 1
Total 464 439 526 909 1074 2903 682

Not surprisingly, the age groups with the largest number of competitors were between 40 and 54, representing 65% of those competitors over 40. This endurance sport favors the young. At the same time, there has clearly been growth in the number of competitors over 70, from 25 in 2008 to 42 in 2012. Similar growth in the number of older competitors can be seen in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, a much longer test of endurance (2.5 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run). Table 3 shows the growth in older triathlon competitors over the past five years


Table 3 - Ironman Competitors Over 70
Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total
70-74 16 20 20 22 23 101
75-79 4 4 7 4 11 30
80+ 0 0 1 3 4 8
Total 20 24 28 29 38 139

The gender and age-group of competitors over 40 at the USAT Nationals are shown in Table 4


Table 4 - Triathlon Competitors Over 40 by Gender and Age
Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total
Men 40-44 62 86 96 142 176 592
Women 40-44 50 51 59 113 123 396
Men 45-49 46 53 69 120 141 429
Women 45-49 31 27 42 85 114 299
Men 50-54 43 49 56 110 120 378
Women 50-54 54 35 24 68 87 268
Men 55-59 42 36 47 75 90 290
Women 55-59 19 19 28 42 52 160
Men 60-64 24 27 33 48 51 183
Women 60-64 15 11 14 19 28 87
Men 65-69 34 26 25 33 34 152
Women 65-69 9 6 7 16 16 54
Men 70-74 27 9 15 26 23 100
Women 70-74 6 3 3 5 10 27
Men 75-79 0 0 4 5 8 17
Women 75-79 2 0 2 0 1 5
Men 80+ 0 1 2 2 0 5
Women 80+ 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total Men 278 287 347 561 643 2116
Total Women 186 152 179 348 431 1296

As Table 4 shows, the age group with the largest number of women and the largest percentage of women (31%) is the 40-44 age group. The year in which the largest number of women competed, as well as the highest percentage of women, was 2012

Individual Competitors Over 40
The figures above suggest that triathlon is simply a collection of numbers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each of these races was a hard-fought competition with outstanding individual performances.

One mark of outstanding performance is consistency over time. There were five individuals, three men and two women, who won at least three USAT national championships during the five-year Study Period. They were:

Doug Clark who won the men's 40-44 age group in all five years -- a remarkable accomplishment.
Karen McKeachie who won the women's 55-59 age group in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Steve Smith who won the men's 55-59 age group in 2008, 2009, and 2012.
Jon Adamson who won the men's 70-74 age group in 2008 and 2009 and the men's 75-79 age group in 2012.
Lauren Binder who won the women's 60-64 age group in 2008 and 2009 and the women's 65-69 age group in 2012.

These five triathletes won a total of 17 championships from 2008 through 2012


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