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Int J Sports Med. 2010 Feb;31(2):106-9. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1241863. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

Body composition of 161-km ultramarathoners.

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  • 1Department of Veterans Affairs, Northern California Health Care System, and University of California Davis Medical Center, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Sacramento, California 95655-1200, USA.


This study compares body composition characteristics with performance among participants in a 161-km trail ultramarathon. Height, mass, and percent body fat from bioimpedance spectroscopy were measured on 72 starters (17 women, 55 men). Correlation analyses were used to compare body characteristics with finish time, and unpaired t-tests were used to compare characteristics of finishers with non-finishers. Mean (+/-SD) BMI (kg x m(-2)) was 24.8+/-2.7 (range 19.1-32.2) for the men and 21.2+/-2.1 (range 18.1-26.7) for the women. Among the three fastest runners, BMI values ranged from 22.1 to 23.4 for men and 21.5 to 22.9 for women. Mean (+/-SD) percent body fat values for men and women were 17+/-5 (range 5-35) and 21+/-6 (range 10-29) , and ranged from 6 to 14 and 14 to 27 among the fastest three men and women. There was a significant positive correlation (r(2)=0.23; p=0.0025) between percent body fat and finish time for men but not for women, and percent body fat values were lower for finishers than non-finishers for men (p=0.03) and women (p=0.04). We conclude that despite wide variations in BMI and percent body fat among ultramarathon participants, the faster men have lower percent body fat values than the slower men, and finishers have lower percent body fat values than non-finishers.

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