The aims of this study were: i) to analyze age-related declines in swimming, cycling, and running performances for road-based and off-road triathlons, and ii) to compare age-related changes in these three disciplines between road-based and off-road triathlons. Swimming, cycling, running and total time performances of the top 5 males between 20 and 70 years of age (in 5 year intervals) were analyzed for short distance road-based (1.5 km swim, 40 km cycle, and 10 km run) and off-road (1.5 km swim, 30 km mountain bike, and 11 km trail run) triathlons at the 2009 World Championships. Independently of age, there was a lesser age-related decline in cycling performance (P<0.01) compared to running and swimming for road-based triathlon. In contrast, age-related decline did not differ between the three locomotion modes for off-road triathlon. With advancing age, the performance decline was less pronounced (P<0.01) for road-based than for off-road triathlon in swimming (>65 years), cycling (>50 years), running (>60 years), and total event (>55 years) times, respectively. These results suggest that the rate of the decline in performance for off-road triathlon is greater than for road-based triathlon, indicating that the type of discipline (road versus mountain bike cycling and road versus trail running) exerts an important influence on the magnitude of the age-associated changes in triathlon performance.
Lepers & Stapley EJAP 2011