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Physiological changes and gastro-intestinal symptoms as a result of ultra-endurance running.

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Department of Human Biology, University of Limburg, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


One hundred and seventy-two competitors of the Swiss Alpine Marathon, Davos, Switzerland, 1988, volunteered for this research project. Of these volunteers 170 (158 men, 12 women) finished the race (99%). The race length was 67 km with an altitude difference of 1,900 m between the highest and lowest points. Mean age was 39 (SEM 0.8) years. Average finishing times were 8 h 18 min (men) and 8 h 56 min (women). Loss of body mass averaged 3.4% body mass [mean 3.3 (SEM 0.2)%; 4.0 (SEM 0.4)%; men and women, respectively]. Blood samples from a subgroup of 89 subjects (6 women and 83 men) were taken prior to and immediately after completion of the race. Changes in haemoglobin (9.3 mmol.l-1 pre-race, 9.7 mmol.l-1 post-race) and packed cell volume (0.44 pre, 0.48 post-race) were in line with the moderate level of dehydration displayed by changes in body mass. Mean plasma volume decreased by 8.3%. No significant changes in plasma osmolality, sodium, or chloride were observed but plasma potassium did increase by 5% (4.2 mmol.l-1 pre-race, 4.4 mmol.l-1 post-race). Mean fluid consumption was 3290 (SEM 103) ml. Forty-three percent of all subjects, and 33% of those who gave blood samples, complained of gastro-intestinal (GI) distress during the race. No direct relationship was found between the quantity or quality of beverage consumed and the prevalence of GI symptoms.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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