Freestyle swimming performance over 50 m, 100 m, 200 m, 400 m, 800 m and 1,500 m was compared on short (25 m) and long (50 m) course for 92,196 national swimmers (i.e. annual high score list Switzerland) and 1,104 international swimmers (i.e. finalists FINA World Championships) from 2000 to 2012. National and international swimmers of both sexes were on average 2.0 ± 0.6% faster on short than on long course. Sex-related differences in swimming speed were greater on short than on long course for international and national swimmers from 50 m to 800 m. Freestyle swimming performance improved across years for international swimmers in both short- and long-course whereas only male national swimmers were able to improve on short and long course events except for short course events on 800 m and 1,500 m. Performance in national women competing in short and long course events showed only improvements on 50 m, 100 m and 1,500 m across years. The sex-related differences in freestyle swimming performance showed no change for international swimmers. For national swimmers, the sex-related differences in freestyle swimming performance increased over time in long course from 50 m to 800 m, but decreased for 1,500 m. In conclusion, elite female and male freestyle swimmers at national and international level were about 2% faster on 25 m compared to 50 m course. During the 2000–2012 period, international as well as national swimmers (i.e. for national level predominantly men) improved freestyle swimming performance in both long and short course. More vigorous and optimized training programs focused on muscular force production in combination with efficient swimming skills might close the performance gap between elite swimmers at national level and FINA finalists. Further research especially including effects of anthropometric, biomechanical, and physiological factors is required to fully understand the effects of course length on freestyle swimming performance, and to determine whether course length has similar effects on other swim styles.
Athlete; Sex; Endurance; Performance
Despite of the growth of ultra-endurance sports events (of duration > 6h) over the previous few decades, the age-related declines in ultra-endurance performance have drawn little attention. The aim of the study was to analyze the changes in participation and performance trends of older (> 40 yrs of age) triathletes between 1986 and 2010 at the Hawaii Ironman triathlon consisting of 3.8 km swimming, 180 km cycling and 42 km running. Swimming, cycling, running and total times of the best male and female triathletes between 18 and 69 yrs of age who competed in the Hawaii Ironman triathlon were analyzed. The relative participation of master triathletes increased during the 1986–2010 period, while the participation of triathletes younger than 40 yrs of age decreased. Linear regression showed that males older than 44 yrs and females older than 40 yrs significantly improved their performances in the three disciplines and in the total time taken to complete the race. Gender differences in total time performance significantly decreased in the same time period for all age groups between the 40–44 yrs and 55–59 yrs ones. The reasons for these relative improvements of Ironman athlete performances in older age groups remain, however, unknown. Further studies investigating training regimes, competition experience or socio-demographic factors are needed to gain better insights into the phenomenon of increasing participation and improvement of ultra-endurance performance with advancing age.
Master athletes, Endurance, Gender differences. Triathlon, Swimming, Cycling, Running, Aging.
This study investigated trends in performance and sex difference in swimming speed of elite open-water swimmers at FINA 10 km competitions (i.e. World Cup races, European Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games). Swimming speed and sex difference in swimming speed of the fastest and the top ten women and men per event competing at 10 km open-water races between 2008 and 2012 were analysed using single and multi-level regression analyses. A total of 2,591 swimmers (i.e. 1,120 women and 1,471 men) finished 47 races. Swimming speed of the fastest women (1.35 ± 0.9 m/s) and men (1.45 ± 0.10 m/s) showed no changes across years. The mean sex difference in swimming speed for the fastest swimmers was 6.8 ± 2.5%. Swimming speed of the top ten female swimmers per event was 1.34 ± 0.09 m/s and remained stable across the years. The top ten male swimmers per event showed a significant decrease in swimming speed over time, even though swimming speed in the first race (i.e. January 2008, 1.40 ± 0.0 m/s) was slower than the swimming speed in the last race (i.e. October 2012, 1.50 ± 0.0 m/s) (P < 0.05). To summarize, swimming performances remained stable for the fastest elite open-water swimmers at 10 km FINA competitions between 2008 and 2012, while performances of the top ten men tended to decrease. The sex difference in swimming speed in elite ultra-swimmers (~7%) appeared smaller compared to other ultra-distance disciplines such as running. Further studies should examine how body shape and physiology of elite open-water ultra-distance swimmers influence performances.
Elite swimmer; Open-water; Ultra-distance; Performances; Sex difference
Atrial natriuretic peptides (ANP) and Brain natriuretic peptides (BNP) stimulate fat cell plasma membrane receptors. They are potent lipolytic agents on isolated fat cells from subcutaneous adipose tissue. The physiological effects of continuous endurance exercise on ANP release and plasma free fatty acids (FFA) concentrations have been well described. The enhancement of fat metabolism using high intensity intermittent exercise protocols has been assessed in more recent investigations. The combined effects of endurance exercise and water immersion on ANP and FFA plasma concentration and the magnitude of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) might be further enhanced by choosing the most effective exercise protocol. Exercise modalities may play a significant role in the future prevention and treatment of obesity.
The two testing trials will be performed according to a randomized and cross-over design. Twenty healthy sedentary pre-obese and obese class-1 men will be scrutinized with regard to their metabolic responses to continuous exercise in water and to high intensity endurance exercise in water. Both trials will be matched for energy expenditure. After preliminary testing, the tests will be conducted as repeated measurements. The two different exercise protocols will be compared. The aims of the study are to investigate (1) whether continuous endurance exercise or high intensity intermittent endurance exercise in water elicits both a higher release of ANP and BNP and a higher plasma concentration of glycerol and (2) to determine whether continuous endurance exercise in water or a high intensity intermittent endurance exercise in water would lead to a more pronounced short term (two hours) EPOC effect.
If our hypothesis would be confirmed, the most effective exercise protocol based on the combined effects of high intensity endurance exercise and water immersion on ANP and BNP release and glycerol plasma concentrations can be identified. Moreover, the magnitude of the EPOC effect can be augmented. Our study would provide a major contribution for creating optimized exercise modalities in the prevention and treatment of obesity.
Current controlled trials, ISRCTN95488515
Obesity; ANP; BNP; EPOC; Exercise intensity; Water immersion
The aims of the present study were, firstly, to investigate in a cross-sectional analysis the age of peak Ironman performance within one calendar year in all qualifiers for Ironman Hawaii and Ironman Hawaii; secondly, to determine in a longitudinal analysis on a qualifier for Ironman Hawaii whether the age of peak Ironman performance and Ironman performance itself change across years; and thirdly, to determine the gender difference in performance.
In a cross-sectional analysis, the age of the top ten finishers for all qualifier races for Ironman Hawaii and Ironman Hawaii was determined in 2010. For a longitudinal analysis, the age and the performance of the annual top ten female and male finishers in a qualifier for Ironman Hawaii was determined in Ironman Switzerland between 1995 and 2010.
In 19 of the 20 analyzed triathlons held in 2010, there was no difference in the age of peak Ironman performance between women and men (p > 0.05). The only difference in the age of peak Ironman performance between genders was in ‘Ironman Canada’ where men were older than women (p = 0.023). For all 20 races, the age of peak Ironman performance was 32.2 ± 1.5 years for men and 33.0 ± 1.6 years for women (p > 0.05). In Ironman Switzerland, there was no difference in the age of peak Ironman performance between genders for top ten women and men from 1995 to 2010 (F = 0.06, p = 0.8). The mean age of top ten women and men was 31.4 ± 1.7 and 31.5 ± 1.7 years (Cohen's d = 0.06), respectively. The gender difference in performance in the three disciplines and for overall race time decreased significantly across years. Men and women improved overall race times by approximately 1.2 and 4.2 min/year, respectively.
Women and men peak at a similar age of 32–33 years in an Ironman triathlon with no gender difference. In a qualifier for Ironman Hawaii, the age of peak Ironman performance remained unchanged across years. In contrast, gender differences in performance in Ironman Switzerland decreased during the studied period, suggesting that elite female Ironman triathletes might still narrow the gender gap in the future.
Endurance; Swimming; Cycling; Running
This study examined changes according to age group in the number of finishers and running times for athletes in female and male mountain ultramarathoners competing in the 78 km Swiss Alpine Marathon, the largest mountain ultramarathon in Europe and held in high alpine terrain.
The association between age and performance was investigated using analysis of variance and both single and multilevel regression analyses.
Between 1998 and 2011, a total of 1,781 women and 12,198 men finished the Swiss Alpine Marathon. The number of female finishers increased (r2 = 0.64, P = 0.001), whereas the number of male finishers (r2 = 0.18, P = 0.15) showed no change. The annual top ten men became older and slower, whereas the annual top ten women became older but not slower. Regarding the number of finishers in the age groups, the number of female finishers decreased in the age group 18–24 years, whereas the number of finishers increased in the age groups 30–34, 40–44, 45–49, 50–54, 55–59, 60–64, and 70–74 years. In the age groups 25–29 and 35–39 years, the number of finishers showed no changes across the years. In the age group 70–74 years, the increase in number of finishers was linear. For all other age groups, the increase was exponential. For men, the number of finishers decreased in the age groups 18–24, 25–29, 30–34, and 35–39 years. In the age groups 40–44, 45–49, 50–54, 55–59, 60–64, 70–74, and 75–79 years, the number of finishers increased. In the age group 40–44 years, the increase was linear. For all other age groups, the increase was exponential. Female finishers in the age group 40–44 years became faster over time. For men, finishers in the age groups 18–24, 25–29, 30–34, 40–44, and 45–49 years became slower.
The number of women older than 30 years and men older than 40 years increased in the Swiss Alpine Marathon. Performance improved in women aged 40–44 years but decreased in male runners aged 18–49 years.
ultraendurance; female; male; age group
The aims of this study were (1) to investigate the participation and performance trends at the ‘100 km Lauf Biel’ in Switzerland from 1998 to 2010, and (2) to compare the age-related changes in 100-km running performance between males and females. For both sexes, the percent of finishers significantly (P < 0.01) decreased for the 18–29 and the 30–39-year age groups, while it significantly (P < 0.01) increased for the 40–49 and the 50–59-year age groups over the studied period. From 1998 to 2010, the mean age of the top ten finishers increased by 0.4 years per annum for both females (P = 0.02) and males (P = 0.003). The running time for the top ten finishers remained stable for females, while it significantly (P = 0.001) increased by 2.4 min per annum for males. There was a significant (P < 0.001) age effect on running times for both sexes. The best 100-km running times was observed for the age comprised between 30 and 49 years for males, and between 30 and 54 years for females, respectively. The age-related decline in running performance was similar until 60–64 years between males and females, but was greater for females compared to males after 65 years. Future studies should investigate the lifespan from 65 to 75 years to better understand the performance difference between male and female master ultra-marathoners.
Ultra-endurance; Long distance running; Gender difference; Aging; Master athlete
Participation and performance trends have been investigated in a single stage Ironman triathlon such as the ‘Ironman Hawaii,’ but not for a multi-stage ultra-triathlon such as the ‘Ultraman Hawaii’ covering a total distance of 515 km. The aims of this study were to analyze (1) changes in participation and performance, (2) sex-related differences in overall and split time performances, and (3) the age of peak performance in Ultraman Hawaii.
Age and race times including split times for 98 women and 570 men who successfully finished Ultraman Hawaii (day 1 with 10-km swimming and 145-km cycling, day 2 with 276-km cycling, and day 3 with 84-km running) between 1983 and 2012 were analyzed. Changes in variables over time of annual winners and annual top three women and men were investigated using simple linear regression analyses.
The number of female finishers increased (r2 = 0.26, p < 0.01), while the number of male finishers remained stable (r2 = 0.03, p > 0.05). Overall race times decreased for both female (r2 = 0.28, p < 0.01) and male (r2 = 0.14, p < 0.05) winners and for both the annual top three women (r2 = 0.36, p < 0.01) and men (r2 = 0.14, p = 0.02). The sex difference in performance decreased over time from 24.3% to 11.5% (r2 = 0.39, p < 0.01). For the split disciplines, the time performance in cycling on day 1 (r2 = 0.20, p < 0.01) and day 2 decreased significantly for men (r2 = 0.41, p < 0.01) but for women only on day 2 (r2 = 0.45, p < 0.01). Split times showed no changes in swimming and running. The age of the annual winners increased from 28 to 47 years for men (r2 = 0.35, p < 0.01) while it remained stable at 32 ± 6 years for women (r2 < 0.01, p > 0.05). The age of the annual top three finishers increased from 33 ± 6 years to 48 ± 3 years for men (p < 0.01) and from 29 ± 7 years to 49 ± 2 years for women (p < 0.01).
Both the annual top three women and men improved performance in Ultraman Hawaii during the 1983–2012 period although the age of the annual top three women and men increased. The sex-related difference in performance decreased over time to reach approximately 12% similar to the reports of other endurance and ultra-endurance events. Further investigations are required to better understand the limiting factors of the multi-activities ultra-endurance events taking place over several days.
Ultra-endurance; Swimming; Cycling; Running; Sex difference; Age; Triathlete
The aims of the present study were to examine (a) participation and performance trends and (b) the age of peak running performance in master athletes competing in 24-h ultra-marathons held worldwide between 1998 and 2011.
Changes in both running speed and the age of peak running speed in 24-h master ultra-marathoners (39,664 finishers, including 8,013 women and 31,651 men) were analyzed.
The number of 24-h ultra-marathoners increased for both women and men across years (P < 0.01). The age of the annual fastest woman decreased from 48 years in 1998 to 35 years in 2011. The age of peaking running speed remained unchanged across time at 42.5 ± 5.2 years for the annual fastest men (P > 0.05). The age of the annual top ten women decreased from 42.6 ± 5.9 years (1998) to 40.1 ± 7.0 years (2011) (P < 0.01). For the annual top ten men, the age of peak running speed remained unchanged at 42 ± 2 years (P > 0.05). Running speed remained unchanged over time at 11.4 ± 0.4 km h-1 for the annual fastest men and 10.0 ± 0.2 km/h for the annual fastest women, respectively (P > 0.05). For the annual ten fastest women, running speed increased over time by 3.2% from 9.3 ± 0.3 to 9.6 ± 0.3 km/h (P < 0.01). Running speed of the annual top ten men remained unchanged at 10.8 ± 0.3 km/h (P > 0.05). Women in age groups 25–29 (r2 = 0.61, P < 0.01), 30–34 (r2 = 0.48, P < 0.01), 35–39 (r2 = 0.42, P = 0.01), 40–44 (r2 = 0.46, P < 0.01), 55–59 (r2 = 0.41, P = 0.03), and 60–64 (r2 = 0.57, P < 0.01) improved running speed; while women in age groups 45–49 and 50–54 maintained running speed (P > 0.05). Men improved running speed in age groups 25–29 (r2 = 0.48, P = 0.02), 45–49 (r2 = 0.34, P = 0.03), 50–54 (r2 = 0.50, P < 0.01), 55–59 (r2 = 0.70, P < 0.01), and 60–64 (r2 = 0.44, P = 0.03); while runners in age groups 30–34, 35–39, and 40–44 maintained running speed (P > 0.05).
Female and male age group runners improved running speed. Runners aged >40 years achieved the fastest running speeds. By definition, runners aged >35 are master runners. The definition of master runners aged >35 years needs to be questioned for ultra-marathoners competing in 24-h ultra-marathons.
Age of peak performance; Running speed; Gender difference
The cases of two brothers training and competing as master cyclists and both preparing for a cycling tour are presented. The older brother aged 66 years went first to the primary care physician and presented with an asymptomatic depression in the exercise stress test of the ST segment in V5 and V6 during recovery after complete exhaustion. Coronary angiography revealed a multi vessel coronary artery disease and he underwent bypass surgery. One year later, he successfully completed his planned cycling tour of ~600 km in seven stages and covering ~12,000 m of total ascent. The younger brother aged 59 years went a few months later to the primary care physician and also performed asymptomatic exercise stress testing without changes in the ST segments. Unfortunately, 2 months later he suffered a cardiac arrest during his cycling tour and survived following immediate successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the road by his cycling colleagues. Immediate invasive coronary arteriography showed a complete stenosis of the trunk of arteria coronaria sinistra (left coronary artery), a 40%–50% stenosis of ramus circumflexus, and a 20% stenosis of arteria coronaria dextra (right coronary artery). The left coronary artery was dilated and he continued cycling 2 months later. In both brothers, familial hypercholesterolemia was the main cardiovascular risk factor for the multi vessel coronary artery disease. A negative exercise electrocardiogram in siblings with an increased risk for coronary artery disease seemed not to exclude an advanced multi vessel coronary artery disease. In master athletes with asymptomatic exercise electrocardiogram but a positive family history, further examinations should be performed in order to detect relevant stenosis in coronary arteries.
cyclist; exercise stress test; electrocardiogram; coronary artery; hypercholesterolemia
The aim of the study was to examine finisher and performance trends of ultrarunners in the Marathon des Sables, the world’s largest multistage ultramarathon.
The age and running speed was analyzed for 6945 finishes of 909 women and 6036 men between 2003 and 2012 at the Marathon des Sables covering about 240 km in the Moroccan desert.
The number of finishes increased significantly for both women and men from 2003–2012. The annual number of finishes increased in age groups: 30–34 years (r2 = 0.50; P = 0.021), 45–49 years (r2 = 0.81; P = 0.0004), and 50–54 years (r2 = 0.46; P = 0.029) for women and in all age groups older than 35 years for men (35–39 years: r2 = 0.64, P = 0.0054; 40–44 years: r2 = 0.67, P = 0.0036; 45–49 years: r2 = 0.77, P = 0.0007; 50–54 years: r2 = 0.72, P = 0.0018; 55–59 years: r2 = 0.42, P = 0.041; and 60–64 years: r2 = 0.67, P = 0.0038). The fastest running speed was achieved by runners in the age group of 35–39 years for both sexes. The mean age of overall finishers was 41.0 ± 9.1 years for women and 41.3 ± 9.5 years for men. For men, running speed improved for athletes in the age group of 35–39 years (r2 = 0.44; P = 0.036) and of 40–44 years (r2 = 0.51; P = 0.019), while it decreased for athletes in the age group of 30–34 years (r2 = 0.66, P = 0.0039). For women, running speed remained stable during the study period for athletes in all age groups.
These data suggest that the number of finishers of masters runners older than 40 years increased for both sexes at the Marathon des Sables, as has been previously observed for single-stage ultramarathons. In contrast to women, men aged 35 to 44 years improved running speed during the study period. Future studies are needed to investigate the reasons for the growing numbers of masters athletes in endurance sports and their improvement in performance.
age group; athlete; ultraendurance; running speed
In recent years, there was an increased interest in investigating the gender difference in performance and the age of peak performance in ultra-endurance performances such as ultra-triathlon, ultra-running, and ultra-swimming, but not in ultra-cycling. The aim of the present study was to analyze the gender difference in ultra-cycling performance and the age of peak ultra-cycling performance in the 720-km ‘Swiss Cycling Marathon’, the largest European qualifier for the ‘Race Across America’.
Changes in the cycling speed and age of 985 finishers including 38 women and 947 men competing in the Swiss Cycling Marathon from 2001 to 2012 covering a distance of 720 km with a change of altitude of 4,993 m were analyzed using linear regression.
The gender difference in performance was 13.6% for the fastest cyclists ever, 13.9% ± 0.5% for the three fastest cyclists ever and 19.1% ± 3.7% for the ten fastest cyclists ever. The gender difference in performance for the annual top three women and men decreased from 35.0% ± 9.5% in 2001 to 20.4% ± 7.7% in 2012 (r2 = 0.72, p = 0.01). The annual top three women improved cycling speed from 20.3 ± 3.1 km h−1 in 2003 to 24.8 ± 2.4 km h−1 in 2012 (r2 = 0.79, p < 0.01). The cycling speed of the annual top three men remained unchanged at 30.2 ± 0.6 km h−1 (p > 0.05). The age of peak performance for the ten fastest finishers ever was 35.9 ± 9.6 years for men and 38.7 ± 7.8 years for women, respectively (p = 0.47).
The gender difference in ultra-cycling performance decreased over the 2001 to 2012 period in the 720-km Swiss Cycling Marathon for the annual top three cyclists and reached approximately 14%. Both women and men achieved peak performance at the age of approximately 36 to 39 years. Women might close the gender gap in ultra-endurance cycling in longer cycling distances. Future studies need to investigate the gender difference in performance in the Race Across America, the longest nonstop and non-drafting ultra-cycling race in the world.
Women; Men; Athlete; Sport
Autoimmune thyroid diseases including Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are caused by immune response to self-thyroid antigens. The rare situation of hyperthyroidism with Graves’ disease in twins has been reported in a very few case reports in literature.
We present monozygotic female twins developing consecutively Graves’ disease within five years. One year before the diagnosis of Graves’ disease was established in the first twin, the mother developed a toxic thyroid nodule with hyperthyroidism leading to hemi thyroidectomy. Both the mother and the twins were cigarette smokers. The twins were treated with carbamizole and this therapy led to normalization of thyroid stimulating hormone and thyroxine.
This case report supports the hypothesis that a genetic factor as well as an environmental factor (cigarette smoking) might be of great importance in the aetiology of Graves’ disease.
Participation and performance trends in age group athletes have been investigated in endurance and ultraendurance races in swimming, cycling, running, and triathlon, but not in long-distance inline skating. The aim of this study was to investigate trends in participation, age, and performance in the longest inline race in Europe, the Inline One-Eleven over 111 km, held between 1998 and 2009.
The total number, age distribution, age at the time of the competition, and race times of male and female finishers at the Inline One-Eleven were analyzed.
Overall participation increased until 2003 but decreased thereafter. During the 12-year period, the relative participation in skaters younger than 40 years old decreased while relative participation increased for skaters older than 40 years. The mean top ten skating time was 199 ± 9 minutes (range: 189–220 minutes) for men and 234 ± 17 minutes (range: 211–271 minutes) for women, respectively. The gender difference in performance remained stable at 17% ± 5% across years.
To summarize, although the participation of master long-distance inline skaters increased, the overall participation decreased across years in the Inline One-Eleven. The race times of the best female and male skaters stabilized across years with a gender difference in performance of 17% ± 5%. Further studies should focus on the participation in the international World Inline Cup races.
endurance; men; women; gender
The performance and age of peak ultra-endurance performance have been investigated in single races and single race series but not using worldwide participation data. The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in running performance and the age of peak running performance of the best 100-mile ultra-marathoners worldwide.
The race times and ages of the annual ten fastest women and men were analyzed among a total of 35,956 finishes (6,862 for women and 29,094 for men) competing between 1998 and 2011 in 100-mile ultra-marathons.
The annual top ten performances improved by 13.7% from 1,132±61.8 min in 1998 to 977.6±77.1 min in 2011 for women and by 14.5% from 959.2±36.4 min in 1998 to 820.6±25.7 min in 2011 for men. The mean ages of the annual top ten fastest runners were 39.2±6.2 years for women and 37.2±6.1 years for men. The age of peak running performance was not different between women and men (p>0.05) and showed no changes across the years.
These findings indicated that the fastest female and male 100-mile ultra-marathoners improved their race time by ∼14% across the 1998–2011 period at an age when they had to be classified as master athletes. Future studies should analyze longer running distances (>200 km) to investigate whether the age of peak performance increases with increased distance in ultra-marathon running.
Running; Ultra-Endurance; Sex Difference; Athlete
The aim of the present study was to compare the trends in participation, performance and age of finishers in ‘Badwater’ and ‘Spartathlon’ as two of the toughest ultramarathons in the world of more than 200 km of distance.
Running speed and age of male and female finishers in Badwater and Spartathlon were analyzed from 2000 to 2012. Age of peak performance and sex difference in running speed were investigated during the studied period.
The number of female and male finishes increased in Badwater and Spartathlon. Women accounted on average for 21.5% ± 6.9% in Badwater and 10.8% ± 2.3% in Spartathlon. There was a significant increase in female participation in Badwater from 18.4% to 19.1% (p < 0.01) and in Spartathlon from 11.9% to 12.5% (p = 0.02). In men, the age of finishers was higher in Badwater (46.5 ± 9.3 years) compared to Spartathlon (44.8 ± 8.2 years) (p < 0.01). The age of female finishers of both races was similar with 43.0 ± 7.5 years in Badwater and 44.5 ± 7.8 years in Spartathlon (p > 0.05). Over the years, the age of the annual five fastest men decreased in Badwater from 42.4 ± 4.2 to 39.8 ± 5.7 years (p < 0.05). For women, the age remained unchanged at 42.3 ± 3.8 years in Badwater (p > 0.05). In Spartathlon, the age was unchanged at 39.7 ± 2.4 years for men and 44.6 ± 3.2 years for women (p > 0.05). In Badwater, women and men became faster over the years. The running speed increased from 7.9 ± 0.7 to 8.7 ± 0.6 km/h (p < 0.01) in men and from 5.4 ± 1.1 to 6.6 ± 0.5 km/h (p < 0.01) in women. The sex difference in running speed remained unchanged at 19.8% ± 4.8% (p > 0.05). In Spartathlon, the running speed was stable over time at 10.8 ± 0.7 km/h for men and 8.7 ± 0.5 km/h for women (p > 0.05). The sex difference remained unchanged at 19.6% ± 2.5% (p > 0.05).
These results suggest that for both Badwater and Spartathlon, (a) female participation increased, (b) the fastest finishers were approximately 40 to 45 years, and (c) the sex difference was at approximately 20%. Women will not outrun men in both Badwater and Spartathlon races. Master ultramarathoners can achieve a high level of performance in ultramarathons greater than 200 km under extreme conditions.
Running; Ultra-endurance; Extreme conditions; Age; Sex differences
Participation and performance trends for athletes by age group have been investigated for marathoners and ultramarathoners competing in races up to 161 km, but not for longer distances of more than 200 km.
Participation and performance trends in athletes by age group in the Badwater (217 km) and Spartathlon (246 km) races were compared from 2000 to 2012.
The number of female and male finishers increased in both races across years (P < 0.05). The age of the annual five fastest men decreased in Badwater from 42.4 ± 4.2 years to 39.8 ± 5.7 years (r2 = 0.33, P = 0.04). For women, the age remained unchanged at 42.3 ± 3.8 years in Badwater (P > 0.05). In Spartathlon, the age of the annual five fastest finishers was unchanged at 39.7 ± 2.4 years for men and 44.6 ± 3.2 years for women (P > 0.05). In Badwater, running speed increased in men from 7.9 ± 0.7 km/hour to 8.7 ± 0.6 km/hour (r2 = 0.51, P < 0.01) and in women from 5.4 ± 1.1 km/hour to 6.6 ± 0.5 km/hour (r2 = 0.61, P < 0.01). In Spartathlon, running speed remained unchanged at 10.8 ± 0.7 km/hour in men and 8.7 ± 0.5 km/hour in women (P > 0.05). In Badwater, the number of men in age groups 30–34 years (r2 = 0.37, P = 0.03) and 40–44 years (r2 = 0.75, P < 0.01) increased. In Spartathlon, the number of men increased in the age group 40–44 years (r2 = 0.33, P = 0.04). Men in age groups 30–34 (r2 = 0.64, P < 0.01), 35–39 (r2 = 0.33, P = 0.04), 40–44 (r2 = 0.34, P = 0.04), and 55–59 years (r2 = 0.40, P = 0.02) improved running speed in Badwater. In Spartathlon, no change in running speed was observed.
The fastest finishers in ultramarathons more than 200 km in distance were 40–45 years old and have to be classified as “master runners” by definition. In contrast to reports of marathoners and ultramarathoners competing in races of 161 km in distance, the increase in participation and the improvement in performance by age group were less pronounced in ultramarathoners competing in races of more than 200 km.
ultra-endurance; master runner; running speed; sex difference
The present study examined the sex difference in swimming (7.8 km), cycling (360 km), running (84 km), and overall race times for Double Iron ultra-triathletes.
Sex differences in split times and overall race times of 1,591 men and 155 women finishing a Double Iron ultra-triathlon between 1985 and 2012 were analyzed.
The annual number of finishes increased linearly for women and exponentially for men. Men achieved race times of 1,716 ± 243 min compared to 1,834 ± 261 min for women and were 118 ± 18 min (6.9%) faster (p < 0.01). Men finished swimming within 156 ± 63 min compared to women with 163 ± 31 min and were 8 ± 32 min (5.1 ± 5.0%) faster (p < 0.01). For cycling, men (852 ± 196 min) were 71 ± 70 min (8.3 ± 3.5%) faster than women (923 ± 126 min) (p < 0.01). Men completed the run split within 710 ± 145 min compared to 739 ± 150 min for women and were 30 ± 5 min (4.2 ± 3.4%) faster (p = 0.03). The annual three fastest men improved race time from 1,650 ± 114 min in 1985 to 1,339 ± 33 min in 2012 (p < 0.01). Overall race time for women remained unchanged at 1,593 ± 173 min with an unchanged sex difference of 27.1 ± 8.6%. In swimming, the split times for the annual three fastest women (148 ± 14 min) and men (127 ± 20 min) remained unchanged with an unchanged sex difference of 26.8 ± 13.5%. In cycling, the annual three fastest men improved the split time from 826 ± 60 min to 666 ± 18 min (p = 0.02). For women, the split time in cycling remained unchanged at 844 ± 54 min with an unchanged sex difference of 25.2 ± 7.3%. In running, the annual fastest three men improved split times from 649 ± 77 min to 532 ± 16 min (p < 0.01). For women, however, the split times remained unchanged at 657 ± 70 min with a stable sex difference of 32.4 ± 12.5%.
To summarize, the present findings showed that men were faster than women in Double Iron ultra-triathlon, men improved overall race times, cycling and running split times, and the sex difference remained unchanged across years for overall race time and split times. The sex differences for overall race times and split times were higher than reported for Ironman triathlon.
Triathlon; Ultra-endurance; Swimming; Cycling; Running
High intensity exercise is considered as an effective means for reducing body fat. The aims of the present study were to investigate (1) whether body mass would be lost and body composition would change and (2) whether variables of anaerobic fitness prior to the intervention period would be related to loss of body mass and changes in body composition in overweight and obese children and adolescents.
A total of 28 children and adolescents (19 boys, 9 girls) attended an 8-week multicomponent inpatient program. Caloric intake was based on the subject’s weight and a daily energy deficit of ~500 kcal was targeted. At the beginning and at the end of the program, variables of anaerobic fitness were assessed using Wingate tests. Body composition was measured before and after the program using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.
Body mass decreased by 11.4% ± 1.6% in boys and by 11.0% ± 2.8% in girls (P < 0.001). Fat mass decreased by 23.8% ± 6.1% in boys and by 21.5% ± 5.2% in girls (P < 0.001). The decrease in fat mass was associated with the decrease in body mass in boys (r = 0.54, P = 0.017) but not in girls (P > 0.05). The decrease in body mass and the decrease in fat mass were neither associated with overall energy expenditure nor with the energy deficit in both genders (P > 0.05). Mean power in W/kg increased in the Wingate tests by 95.4% ± 109.1% in boys and by 100.0% ± 119.9% in girls (P < 0.001).
Adjustments of the chronically positive imbalance of energy intake and energy expenditure of obese children and adolescents living in obesogenic environments should be addressed in a multisectoral approach. Future research in multicomponent childhood and adolescent weight loss programs should be directed towards a better understanding of the underlying complex dynamics in energy homeostasis which promote weight loss and changes in body composition due to high intensity exercise interventions.
obesity; dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; Wingate test; training; diet
The present study investigated the changes in single skinfold thicknesses and body fat during an ultra-endurance cycling race.
One hundred and nineteen ultra-endurance cyclists in the ‘Swiss Cycling Marathon’ covering a distance of 600 km were included. Changes in skinfold thickness, fat mass, skeletal muscle mass and total body water were estimated using anthropometric methods.
The subjects were riding at a mean speed of 23.5±4.0 km/h and finished the race within 1,580±296 min. During the race, body mass decreased by 1.5±1.2 kg (P<0.001), and fat mass decreased by 1.5±1.1 kg (P<0.001). Skeletal muscle mass and total body water remained unchanged (P>0.05). The decrease in body mass correlated to the decrease in fat mass (r = 0.20, P=0.03). The skinfold thicknesses at pectoral (-14.7%), abdominal (-14.9%), and thigh (-10.2%) site showed the largest decrease. The decrease in abdominal skinfold was significantly and negatively related to cycling speed during the race (r = -0.31, P<0.001).
Cycling 600 km at ∼23 km/h led to a decrease in fat mass and in all skinfold thicknesses. The largest decrease in skinfold thickness was recorded for pectoral, abdominal, and thigh site. The decrease in abdominal skinfold thickness was negatively related to cycling speed. The body seems to reduce adipose subcutaneous fat during an ultra-endurance performance at the site of the thickest skinfold.
Endurance; Fat Mass; Muscle Mass; Anthropometry; Body Fat; Training
Athletes intending to compete in Ironman Hawaii need to qualify in an age-group based qualification system. We compared participation and top ten performances of athletes in various age groups between Ironman Hawaii and its qualifier races.
Finishes in Ironman Hawaii and in its qualifier races in 2010 were analyzed in terms of performance, age, and sex. Athletes were categorized into age groups from 18–24 to 75–79 years and split and race times were determined for the top ten athletes in each age group.
A higher proportion of athletes aged 25–49 years finished in the qualifier races than in Ironman Hawaii. In athletes aged 18–24 and 50–79 years, the percentage of finishes was higher in Ironman Hawaii than in the qualifier races. For women, the fastest race times were slower in Ironman Hawaii than in the qualifier races for those aged 18–24 (P<0.001), 25–29 (P<0.05), and 60–64 (P<0.05) years. Swim split times were slower in Ironman Hawaii than in the qualifier races for all age groups (P<0.05). Cycling times were slower in Ironman Hawaii for 18–24, 25–29, 40–44, 50–54, and 60–64 years (P<0.05) in age groups. For men, finishers aged 18–24 (P<0.001), 40–44 (P<0.001), 50–54 (P<0.01), 55–59 (P<0.001), 60–64 (P<0.01), and 65–69 (P<0.001) years were slower in Ironman Hawaii than in the qualifier races. Swim split times were slower in Ironman Hawaii than in the qualifier races for all age groups (P<0.05). Cycling times were slower in Ironman Hawaii for those aged 18–24 and those aged 40 years and older (P<0.05).
There are differences in terms of participation and performance for athletes in different age groups between Ironman Hawaii and its qualifier races. Triathletes aged 25–49 years and men generally were underrepresented in Ironman Hawaii compared with in its Ironman qualifier races. These athletes may have had less chance to qualify for Ironman Hawaii than female athletes or younger (<25 years) and older (>50 years) athletes.
triathlon; ultra-endurance; swimming; cycling; running
The fastest Ironman race times in ‘Ironman Hawaii’ were achieved in very recent years. This study investigated the change in sex difference in both race performance and the age of peak performance across years in the top ten athletes for split disciplines and overall race time in the ‘Ironman Hawaii’ between 1983 and 2012.
Changes in split times, overall race times, and age of athletes across years for the top ten overall and the fastest swimmers, cyclists, and runners were investigated using regression analyses and analyses of variance.
Between 1983 and 2012, the overall top ten men and women finishers improved their swimming (only men), cycling, running, and overall race times. The sex difference in overall race time decreased significantly (p = 0.01) from 15.2% to 11.3% across time. For the split disciplines, the sex difference remained unchanged (p > 0.05) for swimming (12.5 ± 3.7%) and cycling (12.5 ± 2.7%) but decreased for running from 13.5 ± 8.1% to 7.3 ± 2.9% (p = 0.03). The time performance of the top ten swimmers remained stable (p > 0.05), while those of the top ten cyclists and top ten runners improved (p < 0.01). The sex difference in performance remained unchanged (p > 0.05) in swimming (8.0 ± 2.4%), cycling (12.7 ± 1.8%), and running (15.2 ± 3.0%). Between 1983 and 2012, the age of the overall top ten finishers and the fastest swimmers, cyclists, and runners increased across years for both women and men (p < 0.01).
To summarize, for the overall top ten finishers, the sex difference decreased across years for overall race time and running, but not for swimming and cycling. For the top ten per discipline, the sex difference in performance remained unchanged. The athletes improved their performances across years although the age of peak performance increased.
Swimming; Cycling; Running; Ultra-endurance
The aim of the present study was to investigate associations between skeletal muscle mass, body fat and training characteristics with running times in master athletes (age > 35 years) in half-marathon, marathon and ultra-marathon.
We compared skeletal muscle mass, body fat and training characteristics in master half-marathoners (n=103), master marathoners (n=91) and master ultra-marathoners (n=155) and investigated associations between body composition and training characteristics with race times using bi- and multi-variate analyses.
After multi-variate analysis, body fat was related to half-marathon (β=0.9, P=0.0003), marathon (β=2.2, P<0.0001), and ultra-marathon (β=10.5, P<0.0001) race times. In master half-marathoners (β=-4.3, P<0.0001) and master marathoners (β=-11.9, P<0.0001), speed during training was related to race times. In master ultra-marathoners, however, weekly running kilometers (β=-1.6, P<0.0001) were related to running times.
To summarize, body fat and training characteristics, not skeletal muscle mass, were associated with running times in master half-marathoners, master marathoners, and master ultra-marathoners. Master half-marathoners and master marathoners rather rely on a high running speed during training whereas master ultra-marathoners rely on a high running volume during training. The common opinion that skeletal muscle mass affects running performance in master runners needs to be questioned.
Body Fat; Skinfold Thickness; Anthropometry; Running; Sports
The purpose of this study was to investigate participation and performance changes in the multistage ultramarathon ‘Marathon des Sables’ from 2003 to 2012.
Participation and performance trends in the four- or six-stage running event covering approximately 250 km were analyzed with special emphasis on the nationality and age of the athletes. The relations between gender, age, and nationality of finishers and performance were investigated using regression analyses and analysis of variance.
Between 2003 and 2012, a number of 7,275 athletes with 938 women (12.9%) and 6,337 men (87.1%) finished the Marathon des Sables. The finisher rate in both women (r2 = 0.62) and men (r2 = 0.60) increased across years (p < 0.01). Men were significantly (p < 0.01) faster than women for overall finishers (5.9 ± 1.6 km·h−1 versus 5.1 ± 1.3 km·h−1) and for the top three finishers (12.2 ± 0.4 km·h−1 versus 8.3 ± 0.6 km·h−1). The gender difference in running speed of the top three athletes decreased (r2 = 0.72; p < 0.01) from 39.5% in 2003 to 24.1% in 2012 with a mean gender difference of 31.7 ± 2.0%. In men, Moroccans won nine of ten competitions, and one edition was won by a Jordanian athlete. In women, eight races were won by Europeans (France five, Luxembourg two, and Spain one, respectively), and two events were won by Moroccan runners.
The finisher rate in the Marathon des Sables increased this last decade. Men were significantly faster than women with a higher gender difference in performance compared to previous reports. Social or cultural inhibitions may determine the outcome in this event. Future studies need to investigate participation trends regarding nationalities and socioeconomic background, as well as the motivation to compete in ultramarathons.
Ultramarathon; Performance trends; Nationality; Gender difference
The age of peak swim performance has been investigated for freestyle swimmers for distances ranging from 50 m to 1500 m among swimmers aged 19 to 99 years. However, studies have yet to investigate the 10 to 19 year-old age group. The aims of the present study were (1) to investigate the age range of peak freestyle swim speed, and (2) to find differences in age range and peak freestyle swim speed between male and female freestyle swimmers from 50 m to 1500 m at a national level.
The changes in age range and peak freestyle swim speed among Swiss elite freestyle swimmers aged 0–9 years and 70–79 years who were ranked on the Swiss high score list between 2006 and 2010 were analyzed using linear regression analyses and analysis of variance.
Men were fastest at ages 22–23 years for 100 m and 200 m; at ages 24–25 years for 400 m and 800 m; and at 26–27 years for 50 m and 1500 m. Women achieved peak freestyle swim speed at ages 20–21 years for all distances with the exception of 800 m. In the 800 m, women were fastest at ages 26–27 years. The difference in peak freestyle swim speed decreased with increasing swim distance from 50 m to 800 m (ie, 13.1% ± 1.3% in 50 m; 13.2% ± 0.9% in 100 m; 10.8% ± 0.9% in 200 m; 7.9% ± 1.3% in 400 m; and 4.2% ± 2.0% in 800 m). For 1500 m, however, the gender difference increased to 6.4% ± 2.3%.
These findings suggest that peak freestyle swim speed is achieved at lower age ranges in women when compared to men at 50 m to 1500 m, but not at 800 m. The gender difference in peak freestyle swim speed decreased with increasing swim distance from 50 m to 800 m, but not for 1500 m. These data should be confirmed with swimmers at an international level.
gender; performance; endurance; athlete