Author Malcolm Gladwell Holds the Canadian 1500 Meter 13 Year Old Age Group Record

First, an update on the dangling toenail. It was about two weeks ago that I first discovered a toenail with days that were numbered. Today was its final day. The toenail is gone, though I don't know where it went...which is ok I guess, as there's new toenail in its place.

The September Runner's World had an interesting conversation with Malcolm Gladwell. I'm a fan of his work, like The Tipping Point and Blink, and he has new book out called David and Goliath. Something I never knew about him is that he is an avid runner. And quite an accomplished one at that.

Gladwell holds the Canadian 1500 meter 13 year old age group record, with a 4:14, then ran a 4:05 at age 14. And he beat Dave Reid, who subsequently became the Canadian 1500 meter record holder.  When asked about that, he responds analytically:

"Age-class running, as you know, is completely unreliable. It’s based on this artificial thing, which is that people who are the same age have the same level of physical maturity. Which just isn’t true. And I always suspected, when I was an age-class runner, that I was just maturing faster than my peers. At 13 I would go to the line at a race and I would be the tallest guy in the race. Now, I’m not a tall person. I realized I was just maturing faster. And if you’re improving in those years, you’re improving your 1500 time by seven or eight seconds a year. If you have six months of maturity on someone, that’s four seconds! These races, these results, mean nothing at that age. All they tell you is that someone has a reasonable degree of promise."

So true. Age groups are an artificial means of grouping runners competitively. But then again, I can't think of a better way, short of "handicapping" runners based on past performances, regardless of age. As I approach age 50, however, I'm liking this age group approach more and more though. Survival of the fittest.