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It is recognised that regular physical activity and a high level of fitness are powerful predictors of positive health outcomes. There is a long and rich history of significant feats of human endurance with some, for example, the death of the first marathon runner, Pheidippides, associated with negative health outcomes.
Early studies on endurance running used X-ray and interview techniques to evaluate competitors and comment on performance. Since then, comparatively few studies have looked at runners competing in distances longer than a marathon. Those that have, tend to show significant musculoskeletal injuries and a remarkable level of adaptation to this endurance load.
The TransEurope Footrace Project followed ultra-endurance runners aiming to complete 4,500 Km of running in 64 days across Europe. This pioneering study will assess the impact of extreme endurance on human physiology; analysing musculoskeletal and other tissue/organ injuries, and the body's potential ability to adapt to extreme physiological stress. The results will be of interest not only to endurance runners, but to anyone interested in the limits of human performance.
Please see related article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/78