In light of a few comments on the temperature thread, I thought I'd have a look at the data to see if there has been a big change in the times that the field is achieving on the 6FT over the last 25 years.
I used the median as well as the 25% and 75% quartiles of race starters from each year to look at the times for each year.
Look at the first attached graph. A few quick observations:
1. The fields in the first three years were quite slow and quite small
2. The golden age seems to have been in the late 80s
3. From 1990 to 2006 the field grew dramatically in size, and the median time got slower
4. The last two years have been comparatively quick years.
So we might well conclude that the golden age was in the late 80s and things have gone downhill ever since.
However, while I am in no position to refute that the late 80s were indeed a golden age, the idea that times have gotten progressively worse is a little misleading.
From the analysis behind the temperature thread, I observed that, on average, a one degree change in the average tempterature on race day between 8am and 2pm causes a 0.81% change in race time. So I normalised the median times for the years I have the temperature data (1990-2008, excluding 1997). That is, if a particular day was 2 degrees hotter than the average race day, I reduced the times by 1.62%. The results are in the second graph.
There is an ever so slight increase in times over this period, but nothing that anyone would notice.
So in conclusion, if you don't have a Six Foot jacket hanging in your wardrobe (ie you're an 18-time finisher), then you probably can't hark back to the "good ol' days."
Best of luck with the final weeks of training,