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Open Access J Sports Med. 2012 Oct 23;3:121-9. doi: 10.2147/OAJSM.S37389. eCollection 2012.

Comparison of anthropometric and training characteristics between recreational male marathoners and 24-hour ultramarathoners.

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



Of the anthropometry and training variables used to predict race performance in a 24-hour ultrarun, the personal best marathon time is the strongest predictor in recreational male 24-hour ultramarathoners. This finding raises the question of whether similarities exist between male recreational 24-hour ultramarathoners and male recreational marathoners.


The association between age, anthropometric variables (ie, body mass, body height, body mass index, percent body fat, skeletal muscle mass, limb circumference, and skinfold thickness at the pectoral, mid axillary, triceps, subscapular, abdominal, suprailiac, front thigh, and medial calf sites), previous experience and training characteristics (ie, volume, speed, and personal best time), and race time for 79 male recreational 24-hour ultramarathoners and 126 male recreational marathoners was investigated using bivariate and multivariate analysis.


The 24-hour ultramarathoners were older (P < 0.05), had a lower circumference at both the upper arm (P < 0.05) and thigh (P < 0.01), and a lower skinfold thickness at the pectoral, axillary, and suprailiac sites (P < 0.05) compared with the marathoners. During training, the 24-hour ultramarathoners were running for more hours per week (P < 0.001) and completed more kilometers (P < 0.001), but were running slower (P < 0.01) compared with the marathoners. In the 24-hour ultramarathoners, neither anthropometric nor training variables were associated with kilometers completed in the race (P > 0.05). In the marathoners, percent body fat (P < 0.001) and running speed during training (P < 0.0001) were related to marathon race times.


In summary, differences in anthropometric and training predictor variables do exist between male recreational 24-hour ultramarathoners and male recreational marathoners for race performance.


athlete; body fat; endurance; performance; skinfold thickness

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