The aim of this study was to assess the effects of the age and sex of the competitor on orienteering speed during competitive events. The results of the fastest three male and fastest three female competitors in each 5-year age band (21-79 years), from four national orienteering events, were analysed. The data for age and orienteering speed were log-transformed and regression analyses were conducted to determine the relationships between age and sex and orienteering speed. For comparison, data for the fastest Great Britain finisher in the 10,000-m track and 10-km cross-country events for age groups 40-69 years at the World Masters Championships were also analysed. The results showed that, before the age of 40 years, there was no substantial slowing in orienteering speed for males (0.5-4.2% per decade) but a moderate decline (4.7-10.0% per decade) for females. After the age of 45 years, the orienteering speed of males and females slowed by 13 - 2% and 16 - 4% per decade (mean - s ), respectively, until around the age of 69, after which the deterioration was accentuated. The orienteering speed of the females was 81 - 4, 74 - 6 and 69 - 7% that of the males at ages 21, 45 and 65 years, respectively. The magnitudes of the age-related slowing of orienteering speed and of the difference in orienteering speed between males and females aged 45 years and over were greater than those reported for the other endurance running events. This may reflect the physical demands of running in orienteering terrain, tactical and cognitive aspects of the sport, or sociocultural aspects of the participating population.
- endurance running