Demographic Characteristics of 161-km Ultramarathon Runners

Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Northern California Health Care System, Sacramento, California 95655-1200, USA.
Research in Sports Medicine An International Journal (Impact Factor: 1.7). 01/2012; 20(1):59-69. DOI: 10.1080/15438627.2012.634707
Source: PubMed


Despite considerable recent growth in ultramarathon running, little is known about the characteristics of the participants. This work documents demographic characteristics of 161-km ultramarathoners. Surveys were completed by 489 of 674 runners entered in two of the largest 161-km ultramarathons in North America in 2009. Respondents had a mean (± SD) age of 44.5 ± 9.8 years (range 20-72 years) and were generally men (80.2%), married (70.1%), had bachelor's (43.6%) or graduate (37.2%) degrees, and used vitamins and/or supplements (75.3%). They reported 2.8 ± 20.2 days of work or school loss in the previous year from injury or illness. Body mass index (23.4 ± 2.2 and 20.8 ± 1.8 kg/m2 for men and women, respectively) was not associated with age. The findings indicate that 161-km ultramarathon participants are largely well-educated, middle-aged, married men who rarely miss work due to illness or injury, generally use vitamins and/or supplements, and maintain appropriate body mass with aging.

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    • "Hoffman and colleagues systematically investigated in recent years socio-demographic characteristics of ultra-marathoners [2] [3]. In a survey completed by 489 of 674 runners competing in two of the largest 161-km ultra-marathons held in North America, the included athletes had a mean age of 44.5 years, were generally men (80.2%), were married (70.1%), had a bachelor's (43.6%) or a graduate (37.2%) degree [2]. In the UL- TRA-Study, Hoffman and Krishnan [3] interviewed 1,345 current and former ultra-marathoners. "
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    • "but the largest 100 km and 100 miles ultra-marathons were all listed. This cross-sectional data analysis suffers some limitations since variables such as training (Knechtle et al. 2012a), anthropometric characteristics (Hoffman 2008; Rüst et al. 2012; Gianoli et al. 2012; Hoffman et al. 2010a), previous experience (Knechtle et al. 2010c; Knechtle et al. 2011a, [b], [c]), motivation (Hodge et al. 2008; Krouse et al. 2011; Ruiz-Juan and Zarauz 2012), demographic characteristics (Hoffman and Fogard 2012), nationality (Cejka et al. 2014) and performance-limiting factors (Hoffman and Fogard 2011) were not included. The selection of the annual top ten for each age group might lead to a selection bias due to low numbers of finisher in the early years of ultra-marathon running. "
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    ABSTRACT: Improved performance has been reported for master runners (i.e. athletes older than 40 years) in both single marathons and single ultra-marathons. This study investigated performance trends of age group ultra-marathoners competing in all 100 km and 100 miles races held worldwide between 1971 and 2013. Changes in running speeds across years were investigated for the annual ten fastest 5-year age group finishers using linear, non-linear and multi-level regression analyses. In 100 km, running speed remained unchanged in women in 25-29 years, increased non-linearly in 30-34 to 55-59 years, and linearly in 60-64 years. In men, running speed increased non-linearly in 18-24 to 60-64 years and linearly in 65-69 to 75-79 years. In 100 miles, running speed increased in women linearly in 25-29 and 30-34 years, non-linearly in 35-39 to 45-49 years, and linearly in 50-54 and 55-59 years. For men, running speed increased linearly in 18-24 years, non-linearly in 25-29 to 45-49 years, and linearly in 50-54 to 65-69 years. Overall, the faster race times over the last 30 years are a result of all top ten finishers getting faster. These findings suggest that athletes in younger to middle age groups (i.e. 25-35 to 50-65 years depending upon sex and distance) have reached their limits due to a non-linear increase in running speed whereas runners in very young (i.e. younger than 25-35 years) and older age groups (i.e. older than 50-65 years) depending upon sex and distance might still improve their performance due to a linear increase in running speed.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · SpringerPlus
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    • "Socioeconomic factors could be one of the reasons for this finding. The limited data that exists on demographic factors in long-distance athletes shows them to have a higher than average education and income than the average individual [35,36]. This could on the one hand well be a precondition to participate in this sport. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined participation and performance trends in 'Ironman Hawaii' regarding the nationality of the finishers. Associations between nationalities and race times of 39,706 finishers originating from 124 countries in the 'Ironman Hawaii' from 1985 to 2012 were analyzed using single and multi-level regression analysis. Most of the finishers originated from the United States of America (47.5%) followed by athletes from Germany (11.7%), Japan (7.9%), Australia (6.7%), Canada (5.2%), Switzerland (2.9%), France (2.3%), Great Britain (2.0%), New Zealand (1.9%), and Austria (1.5%). German women showed the fastest increase in finishers (r2=0.83, p<0.0001), followed by Australia (r2=0.78, p<0.0001), Canada (r2=0.78, p<0.0001) and the USA (r2=0.69, p<0.0001). Japanese women showed no change in the number of finishers (r2=0.01, p>0.05). For men, athletes from France showed the steepest increase (r2=0.85, p<0.0001), followed by Austria (r2=0.68, p<0.0001), Australia (r2=0.67, p<0.0001), Brazil (r2=0.60, p<0.0001), Great Britain (r2=0.46, p<0.0001), Germany (r2=0.26, p<0.0001), the United States of America (r2=0.21, p=0.013) and Switzerland (r2=0.14, p=0.0044). The number of Japanese men decreased (r2=0.35, p=0.0009). The number of men from Canada (r2=0.02, p>0.05) and New Zealand (r2=0.02, p>0.05) remained unchanged. Regarding female performance, the largest improvements were achieved by Japanese women (17.3%). The fastest race times in 2012 were achieved by US-American women. Women from Japan, Canada, Germany, Australia, and the United States of America improved race times. For men, the largest improvements were achieved by athletes originating from Brazil (20.9%) whereas the fastest race times in 2012 were achieved by athletes from Germany. Race times for athletes originating from Brazil, Austria, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and France decreased. Race times in athletes originating from Australia and the United States of America showed no significant changes. Regarding the fastest race times ever, the fastest women originated from the United States (546+/-7 min) followed by Great Britain (555+/-15 min) and Switzerland (558+/-8 min). In men, the fastest finishers originated from the United States (494+/-7 min), Germany (496+/-6 min) and Australia (497+/-5 min). The 'Ironman Hawaii' has been dominated by women and men from the United States of America in participation and performance.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014
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