How long can Usain Bolt remain fast?

Let’s fast-forward 20 years or so, when Usain Bolt is around the age of 50.
Assuming a healthy body, would he still be able to outrun the average 25-year old American with ease?

What about when he gets to 55, 57 years old?

Depends how much chemistry advances in the next few years.

Read this article on Ben Johnson (who is 54 years old)

He thinks he could run a 10.75 in the 100m at his age. Maybe a little exaggeration here but he could probably run the 100m in the 11s which is still faster than the majority of the population.

Current 50 age group record is 10.88
55 is 11.44

He thinks he could “run a 9.2 or 9.3” if he were younger.

At 55, Usain Bolt will destroy a field of ordinary people, even if they’re 25-year-old people. It would be a man among boys. No contest.

The times being talked about here have to be put into context… 11 seconds is INCREDIBLY fast. That M50 record of 10.88 is held by Willie Gault, who was an NFL wide receiver and was considered amazingly fast even by the NFL’s high standards. Gault made Jerry Rice look like Fat Albert, speedwise. We are used to seeing a guy at the Olympics run a 10.49 and think “turtle” but that’s ludicrously fast. That is much, much faster than even most very good athletes, much faster than most people in football or baseball who you’d say were fast. Rickey Henderson in his prime would have had to work pretty hard to run an 11-second 100. It’s not that a 50-year-old Usain Bolt or Ben Johnson would “Beat” the average 25-year-old American. They would destroy them. The average man would not even be in the picture when a 55-year-old Bolt crossed the line.

The other day they had a fun thing on TV where Andre de Grasse, a man who runs 100 metres in under ten seconds when he’s motivated to do so, was challenged to run 100 metres under the same conditions as Jesse Owens, who ran 10.3 at the 1936 Olympics. Replica period running shoes, dirt track. He complained about the shoes and then ran, and it was like watching a master at work. Lightning fast, an absolutely perfect run. He expends not a tiny bit of energy on anything except running fast. Incredible speed. His time was 11 seconds.

I would guess a healthy, athletic 25-year-old man could run 100m in 13-14 seconds, on average. That’s a young man who plays sports regularly, at least one of which involves running, and takes care of himself. 12 seconds flat is someone whom you would remark upon as being very fast, the guy on your softball team who can run a single into a double. 11 seconds is lightning. For women, add a full second. If we expand the parameters to the OP’s literal statement - the average 25-year-old - we would be including many, many people who are hopelessly out of shape and probably can’t run 100 metres without stopping for breath (and they aren’t all necessarily overweight.)

For comparison’s sake, the Olympic Decathlon is going on right now, and only two of those guys came in under 10.7 – and one of those was a guy who thereby set a new Olympic Decathlon record for the 100m dash in particular, and the other guy recently broke the world record for Decathlons in general.

Yeah, people really don’t tend to appreciate how fast/strong/quick/whatever top athletes are.

A more interesting question might be at what age would Bolt be slower than your average 25 year old.

I’d guess he’s basically have to be unable to run at all. 80s?

With or without Ellen DeGeneres on his back?

I would guess, yeah, only when health begins to break him down.

Looking at the age records, we see that the record for age 75 is 13.49. That time will beat the great majority of 25-year-olds. That’s pretty fast. It won’t win a track meet at any age above 11-12 years old, but it’s faster than the average person, by far. The variance between 70-year-olds in terms of athletic ability is strikingly vast; if you have the right genes and take care of yourself you can still be very athletic at that age. If you don’t take care of yourself you can be bedridden.

Health breakdown can happen at a lot of ages. Jackie Robinson, who was extremely fast, ludicrously athletic, and knew how to take care of himself, was dead before he reached 55, and you don’t get much slower than that. He had diabetes and heat disease, whaddya gonna do. We don’t know Bolt’s health future. But if he’s still healthy at 55, he will be fast.

I thought that part was hilarious. No doubt with improved shoes and training (as well as more PED’s) no doubt he could improve on his drug assisted best of 9.69 but to go to 9.2 or 9.3 is quite a stretch.

Especially since Usain Bolt, like everyone else on the planet, has never cracked 9.5.

Apparently he only needs to remain fast for about 9.63 seconds.

More than you ever wanted to know about this

Here itis and it is indeed fascinating. So how fast would 1936-era Jesse Owens have been on a modern track? What are the big differences to account for the 1 second difference from De Grasse’s usual performance? I’d guess hand timing, the fact it’s not a serious race and unfamiliarity starting without blocks probably account for most of it.

It doesn’t look like the Berlin track was gravel like the one that Andre is running in. It looks pretty solid.

Also Jesse ran against other runners which has a psychological advantage as well.

Still, given the running shoes and track of today, Jesse Owens could probably run a sub 10s 100m race but I doubt if he could beat Usain Bolt’s best.

Still an interesting comparison

All evidence would suggest Owens would be just as fast as de Grasse, who, bear in mind, is only 21. If he stays healthy de Grasse could quite easily get below 9.8 in his prime. .

Owens was the greatest track athlete of his time. (Unlike De Grasse, he also excelled in long jump, a discipline today’s sprinters usually don’t even bother trying.) There is no reason to believe he would not be one of the greatest today. I don’t think he would have been as great as Bolt, since I think Bolt is the greatest there ever was, but he’d have given him a run for his money - and to be honest I cannot guarantee he would not have matched Bolt. Owens was really incredible, way ahead of his time. I believe Owens, with modern shoes, blocks, and training techniques (it’s not like Jesse got to watch slo-mo video of himself starting to work out tiny kinks in his technique) would have been a world champion with incredible times. Like Bolt or De Grasse, Owens was precocious, setting records at age 21 and a university superstar, and of course excelled in multiple disciplines. Like Bolt, Owens set records that lasted; his long jump record held for 25 years. His 10.3 was matched but not improved upon for twenty years, and his 20.7 in the 200 may not have been equalled for years, though records are hard to come by there. It wasn’t beaten at the Olympics until 1956. You have to assume an Owens today would have been as dominant as Owens was.

While De Grasse ran that distance in 11, I do not believe, in reverse, that he would actually have been dusted by Jesse Owens. Bear in mind that:

  1. That was De Grasse’s first day in the old shoes. The 100m final in 1936 was Owens’s thousandth.

  2. De Grasse wasn’t running against anyone. This is critically important; sprinters run to the level of competition, and the best ones even more so, as is plainly evident by just watching them. Had Owens been resurrected and run against De Grasse for a hundred bucks, De Grasse would have been closer to 10 than 11.

Nothing interests freshly resurrected people after almost a century nearly as much as a hundred bucks.

I’m an unhealthy 30+ year old who hates running. I’ve always wondered how fast I could do it. Once, when I was about 10 years younger, I was racing someone in the streets. I put everything I had into that short few second burst of speed. Afterwards, I felt sick like I wanted to vomit, and that feeling didn’t go away for at least an hour.

Had you eaten 1-3 hours before running? Running on an empty stomach feels far better than a full one.