Who are the top 1%?


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Who are the top 1%?

Postby Daisy » Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:17 am

I was thinking that I have no idea where the line is from an athletic perspective. For example, what 100m time gets you into the top 1% of the male population? A 10.5? Or are we talking sub 12? Even sub 13? And what about other events? Has anyone ever made some estimates?
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby Cooter Brown » Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:29 am

The average person is so unathletic, I'd guess an 11.5 - 12.0 100m is top 1% for men under age 30.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby Daisy » Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:25 am

Cooter Brown wrote:for men under age 30.

You're right, I need to be more specific. I was thinking along the lines of potential at the 'peak' of ones fitness.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby tandfman » Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:59 am

Exactly. The "male population" includes babies in diapers and 90-year olds in nursing homes.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby jazzcyclist » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:17 am

Keep in mind that Michael Johnson was 32 when he PR'ed in the 400 and Carl Lewis was 30 when he PR'ed in the 100. Perhaps we should look at males between 17 and 35.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby 18.99s » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:53 am

jazzcyclist wrote:Keep in mind that Michael Johnson was 32 when he PR'ed in the 400 and Carl Lewis was 30 when he PR'ed in the 100. Perhaps we should look at males between 17 and 35.

And Linford Christie at 33, etc.

However, for the general population the vast majority stop all serious athletic training well before 30, so the decline in speed after age 25 among the general population would be much more pronounced than within professional sports.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby Daisy » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:57 am

jazzcyclist wrote:Perhaps we should look at males between 17 and 35.

This is why I was thinking that we need to think about 'peak' performance.

18.99s wrote:However, for the general population the vast majority stop all serious athletic training well before 30

True too. Probably anyone still competing after 30 is in the 1%. Although, the running boom could well mean that there are people over 30 who reach their peak and it's well below the 1% cut off.

Anyway, I don't think we need to over think this too much. I was just wondering if anyone had made estimates.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby j-a-m » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:39 am

Daisy wrote:For example, what 100m time gets you into the top 1% of the male population?

Depends on what exactly we're talking about. Actual PB? Hypothetical PB that you could run today? Hypothetical PB that you could run one month from now if preparing for it?
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby Marlow » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:41 am

Milesplit has a data-base of almost every kid who ran in a FAT 100 in 2012. For Florida (a 'fast' state), only 15% broke 12.00. And that's just kids who RAN the 100 competitively. For the entire population at its peak? I'm guessing somewhere in the mid-13s for the average. Girls a second and a half slower - nearer 15 or even 16 (the drop-off is severe for girls after the median).
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby TN1965 » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:55 am

This is all age groups combined, but 3:00 marathon puts you in the top 2.7% of men and top 0.4% of women among all the marathon finishers.

http://www.marathonguide.com/Features/A ... erview.cfm

Generally speaking, running a BQ puts a runner in the top 10% of marathon finishers in that age group (this varies somewhat based on age and gender).
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby dbirds » Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:13 am

I highly recommend Dale Harder's book Sports Comparisons. It has the top 1%, top 10 and top 100% in virtually event in almost every big sport. Excellent book if you like numbers and stats!

http://www.strengthospeedia.org/
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby TN1965 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:21 am

I checked the last year's Boston marathon record book last night.

There were 4866 male finishers under 40. and #487 was 2:51. 5200 female finishers under 40, and #520 was 3:21.

That's top 10% of Boston finishers. About 10% of marathon finishers in each age group qualify for Boston. So about 1% of marathon finishers under 40 run below those times. (This was Boston 2011, when G.Mutai and Mosop ran 2:03. So it should be considered a "fast" course.)
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby dj » Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:14 am

TN1965 wrote:I checked the last year's Boston marathon record book last night.

There were 4866 male finishers under 40. and #487 was 2:51. 5200 female finishers under 40, and #520 was 3:21.

That's top 10% of Boston finishers. About 10% of marathon finishers in each age group qualify for Boston. So about 1% of marathon finishers under 40 run below those times. (This was Boston 2011, when G.Mutai and Mosop ran 2:03. So it should be considered a "fast" course.)


Showing how the world of running has changed, I ran Boston in 1970 (horrible race, 3:21:29). There were 1011 starters (2nd most ever at that point, and everyone thought the event was over-crowded!), of whom 278 broke 3:00:00 and 450th was 3:20:09.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby Conor Dary » Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:24 am

dj wrote:

Showing how the world of running has changed, I ran Boston in 1970 (horrible race, 3:21:29). There were 1011 starters (2nd most ever at that point, and everyone thought the event was over-crowded!), of whom 278 broke 3:00:00 and 450th was 3:20:09.


I think that was the last year it was open to literally everyone. In 1971, you had to run under 3:30 to get in. And it was rather controversial at the time. Also in 1970, 856 ran under 4 hours.

There were, according to RW, about 75 marathons in the US that year, and Boston had about half of all of the runners, a total of about 2000, that ran a marathon that year.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby dj » Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:46 pm

Conor Dary wrote:I think that [1970] was the last year it was open to literally everyone. In 1971, you had to run under 3:30 to get in. And it was rather controversial at the time. Also in 1970, 856 ran under 4 hours.


Nope, 1970 was the first year with a time qualifier. You could run either 3:30 or 68 minutes (I think, but perhaps 66 or 65) for a 10M.

Edited to correct 2:30 to 3:30.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby kuha » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:14 pm

dj wrote:
Conor Dary wrote:I think that [1970] was the last year it was open to literally everyone. In 1971, you had to run under 3:30 to get in. And it was rather controversial at the time. Also in 1970, 856 ran under 4 hours.


Nope, 1970 was the first year with a time qualifier. You could run either 2:30 or 68 minutes (I think, but perhaps 66 or 65) for a 10M.


I THINK it was 65 minutes for 10m--I do vaguely recall that "new" qualifier.

Edit: Info from The Google:

1970—4:00 To control crowds, the first qualifying standard is instituted. "This is not a jogging race," say organizers.

1971—3:30 BAA lowers the time restrict field to 1,000; 1,067 enter.

1972—3:30 Women, now allowed officially to enter, are kept to same time standards.

1977—3:00 New time is instituted for men 39 and under.

Etc.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby Conor Dary » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:53 pm

The requirements for 1971 were: 3:30 marathon, 2:30 20 miles, 1:45 15 miles, 65 min 10 miles. The entry fee was $2. And be a male 18 or older.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby 26mi235 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:50 pm

My first race was the Culver City Marathon in 1974 -- I started out running with the woman so I figured she much be running in the 2:50s since the WR was to my memory that day not too much under 2:50. Well, she ran a WR (Culver City had maybe three WRs in four years). I finished 64th of 500 or so (12.5%-tile) and ran 2:52. The distribution of runners was clearly much different then compared to more recent times. (That mark is top-10% in an entry-constrained Boston with a tailwind, as noted above.)
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby Vielleicht » Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:11 pm

How about the 3000m flat? Theoretically it's about the right distance that best reflects one's peak aerobic ability, when optimally paced
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby TN1965 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:35 am

Vielleicht wrote:How about the 3000m flat? Theoretically it's about the right distance that best reflects one's peak aerobic ability, when optimally paced


Not many people race 3000m (or 2 miles). 1500m/mile or 5000m are run far more frequently.

On the other hand, my Cooper test (12 minutes run) result from a few years ago was about 3100m. And I think there is plenty of data on the distribution of 12 min run distances.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby Conor Dary » Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:40 am

26mi235 wrote:My first race was the Culver City Marathon in 1974 -- I started out running with the woman so I figured she much be running in the 2:50s since the WR was to my memory that day not too much under 2:50. Well, she ran a WR (Culver City had maybe three WRs in four years). I finished 64th of 500 or so (12.5%-tile) and ran 2:52. The distribution of runners was clearly much different then compared to more recent times. (That mark is top-10% in an entry-constrained Boston with a tailwind, as noted above.)


Back in the 70's most of the runners were racers doing shorter races mostly, and the occasional marathon. But the goal was really to go as fast as you could.

Nowadays, most of the runners run the same pace all the time. 5k, marathon, whatever. And usually with a water bottle.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby TN1965 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 8:47 am

Conor Dary wrote:Nowadays, most of the runners run the same pace all the time. 5k, marathon, whatever. And usually with a water bottle.


I don't think those people who are running 25 min 5K could run a marathon in 3:30. Most of them probably need 4 hours or more to complete a marathon. And very few of them can run an even pace. 95% of them start too fast and then fade in the second half.

If you maintain an 8 min/mile pace through a marathon pace, you will be passing hundreds of runners in the second half.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby preston » Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:19 am

men approximately 150,000,000 ... possible 35,000,000 between 18-35 ... 1% = 350,000 ... gotta figure about 14 seconds.
Marlow wrote:... only 15% broke 12.00. And that's just kids who RAN the 100 competitively. For the entire population at its peak? I'm guessing somewhere in the mid-13s for the average. Girls a second and a half slower - nearer 15 or even 16 (the drop-off is severe for girls after the median).

i think you're a little fast on that 100 but obviously we're not apart much. One way that I think of it is that when weekend warrior jogger types try to run track, breaking 60 seconds for 400m is a big deal - and difficult. Surprising thing is that most of them are frighteningly close to 15 sec in the 100m, making sub-60 a pipe dream.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby gh » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:45 am

my gut feeling is that if you really could assemble a "representative" group of the populace as a whole that you'd find that it's way harder to run fast than you think it is and way easier to put up what you'd consider a "good" marathon time.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby preston » Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:02 am

gh wrote:my gut feeling is that if you really could assemble a "representative" group of the populace as a whole that you'd find that it's way harder to run fast than you think it is and way easier to put up what you'd consider a "good" marathon time.

I agree that for the most part it may be easier to achieve a good marathon than a good sprint. However, I once coached a woman who had tendons in both knees surgically repaired (and who had never run before) to a 31 sec 200m inside of 5 months (the first day was a laugher; 51 for 200m :shock: ). She was 38-39. (and not the smallest; 6'0" 175 - though she was about mid-160's by the time of the test)

All that said, I have a confession: I don't believe there is a lot of differentiation between people. Sure, there are the Bolt's of the world, but there is also a WORLD of difference between sub-10 and sub-15. I think almost any relatively healthy male could be coached to sub-15. No proof, just my belief - and I concede ahead of time that I may be wrong.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby TN1965 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:23 pm

gh wrote:my gut feeling is that if you really could assemble a "representative" group of the populace as a whole that you'd find that it's way harder to run fast than you think it is and way easier to put up what you'd consider a "good" marathon time.


100pts in the scoring table is 14.98 for 100m and 3:41:51 for marathon.

Which is easier for men under 40? I'd say marathon with proper training.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby oldtimer2 » Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:38 pm

I'll stick my neck out here. I wrote a book called "Sports Comparisons ...You Can Compare Apples to Oranges" in 2005. See www.strengthospeedia.org for more info. Here's what I found after reviewing dozens of research articles--most of them a bit old at this point. Based on the set of males 20-39 aroundthe world and predicated on a minimum of 10 weeks of training--after all you wouldn't want to have a person run a marathon with no training at all-- I came up with a series of tables. This is very complicated but to summarize a bit--the average American male is considerably heavier and more out of shape than many of his age counterparts throughout the world. Consider for a moment the average Kenyan or Ethiopian vs. the average American in the marathon. Ha. Consider the average Russian in the hammer throw vs. the average Kenyan or Ethiopian. Ha again. Also consider the field events--most of the research with hard data is from English speaking/European countires but there is enough data out there to make some interesting interpolations, not just interpretations. Anyhow here's my top 1% (remember the training and the universe of the selection--all males 20-39). High Jump 5'5, PV 10'0. LJ 18'4, TJ 36'9, 16#SP 36'3, DT 112', HT 135'9, JT 145', 100m 12.28, 200m 25.25, 400m 57.05, 800m 2:14.05, 1500m 4:42.30, mile 5:04.88, 5000m 18:04, 10000m 37:51, marathon 3:10:18, 110H 18.04, 400H 66.8, 3000ST 11:54.9. I used well over 100 sources. I don't know how many of you are aware of one source alone--Georg Werthner who wrote Jedermann-Zehnkampf (Decathon for Everyman) 93-99 (in German)who recorded data for thousands of athletes in the decathlon events. Georg was a world-class decathletes, still competes as a master and knows his stuff. Another interesting source, altho a bit dated as it was published in 1970, Super Athletes by David Willoughby. For skeptics I think you should read those two of my 100+ sources before you criticize too much. Willoughby was also highly respected in his field. I have yearbooks available that are listed in Peter Matthews' IAAF yearbooks --(statistical goldmines at the top end of T&F). These yearbooks and other works are from sources in Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Africa, Oceania, South America, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Greece, South Africa and others. Each of these works has 1000s of statistics and are carefully written. Bear in mind that the top 1% is a small part of my book--I have point tables from world class to Joe Sixpack and below. This is for your perusal and hopefully your enjoyment.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby Daisy » Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:40 pm

j-a-m wrote:Actual PB? Hypothetical PB that you could run today? Hypothetical PB that you could run one month from now if preparing for it?

Right, I was thinking actual PB when I made the post, that's what I meant by 'peak'. Obviously with training anyone can improve, but how many actually do bother with training?

Hypothetical PB would be interesting but not very practical with respect to trying to get an estimate. I guess this would be your genetic potential?

oldtimer2 wrote:This is for your perusal and hopefully your enjoyment.

This is great, exactly in the spirt of the thread!

A good compromise compared to the two extremes above; actual PB (no training required) and genetic potential.

18.04 for the 110m hurdles! That seems pretty impressive for such a technical event.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby lonewolf » Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:10 pm

gh wrote:my gut feeling is that if you really could assemble a "representative" group of the populace as a whole that you'd find that it's way harder to run fast than you think it is and way easier to put up what you'd consider a "good" marathon time.

My gut tells me the opposite.. I believe the ability to run "fast" is inherent and could be improved to near maximum potential much easier and faster than developing the ability to run a quality marathon.. or any marathon.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:09 am

Daisy wrote:Hypothetical PB would be interesting but not very practical with respect to trying to get an estimate. I guess this would be your genetic potential?

No, the hypothetical PB one month from now would be a good test for current athletic skill.

If an NFL player were to run a 400 with a month of preparation, that would reflect the current athletic skill better than running it today, because he's used to running shorter distances.

If Rex Ryan were to run the 400 a month from now ... that would still reflect his (lack of) current athletic skill; for him to run a 400 close to his "genetic" potential, that would take years to get in shape.
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Re: Who are the top 1%?

Postby Daisy » Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:17 am

j-a-m wrote:If an NFL player were to run a 400 with a month of preparation, that would reflect the current athletic skill better than running it today, because he's used to running shorter distances.

Got you. And this is effectively what oldtimer2's study tried to do, see above. And I agree this is the best approach.
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