I think you and the other rocket scientists missed a key point: what people are remarking on here isn't that Spence broke 5:00 for a mile at age 50. It's that he's done it 37 YEARS IN A ROW.
2012xxx wrote:I agree. He ran something like 4:10 in his prime, so for him to run 4:52 even at the age of 50 isn't so impressive as its over 40 seconds beyond his PR.
Now, if he can do it at 50, then of course it's logical that he could have done it at 49, 48, 47, and so on. But streaks aren't about what someone "could have done" or "would have been capable of." It's about what they actually DID -- and that's much, much rarer.
Personally, I'm in about 15:30 shape right now, and I first broke 16:00 20 years ago. So in theory, I could have put together a streak of 20 years of sub-16. But I didn't. There were years when I was unfit due to injuries or not training as much; and there were years when I was pretty fit but didn't run any 5Ks. This is the case for 99.9% of people who "could have" had streaks.
Bottom line: doing something and being capable of doing something are two very different things. And the latter is much more rare -- and worthy of celebration -- than you'd think.