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Chin J Physiol. 2013 Feb 28;56(1):1-10. doi: 10.4077/CJP.2013.BAA089.

A comparison of anthropometric and training characteristics between recreational female marathoners and recreational female Ironman triathletes.

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Institute of General Practice and Health Services Research, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


A personal best marathon time has been reported as a strong predictor variable for an Ironman race time in recreational female Ironman triathletes. This raises the question whether recreational female Ironman triathletes are similar to recreational female marathoners. We investigated similarities and differences in anthropometry and training between 53 recreational female Ironman triathletes and 46 recreational female marathoners. The association of anthropometric variables and training characteristics with race time was investigated using bi- and multi-variate analysis. The Ironman triathletes were younger (P < 0.01), had a lower skin-fold thickness at pectoral (P < 0.001), axillar (P < 0.01), and subscapular (P < 0.05) site, but a thicker skin-fold thickness at the calf site (P < 0.01) compared to the marathoners. Overall weekly training hours were higher in the Ironman triathletes (P < 0.001). The triathletes were running faster during training than the marathoners (P < 0.05). For the triathletes, neither an anthropometric nor a training variable showed an association with overall Ironman race time after bi-variate analysis. In the multi-variate analysis, running speed during training was related to marathon split time for the Ironman triathletes (P = 0.01) and to marathon race time for the marathoners (P = 0.01). To conclude, although personal best marathon time is a strong predictor variable for performance in recreational female Ironman triathletes, there are differences in both anthropometry and training between recreational female Ironman triathletes and recreational female marathoners and different predictor variables for race performance in these two groups of athletes. These findings suggest that recreational female Ironman triathletes are not comparable to recreational female marathoners regarding the association between anthropometric and training characteristics with race time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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