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Eur J Sport Sci. 2016;16(4):409-15. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2015.1041061. Epub 2015 Jun 2.

The influence of performance level, age and gender on pacing strategy during a 100-km ultramarathon.

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a Institute of Sport & Exercise Science, University of Worcester , Worcester , UK.
b Escola de Educacao Fisica e Esporte , Universidade de Sao Paulo , Sao Paulo , Brazil.


The aim of this study is to analyse the influence of performance level, age and gender on pacing during a 100-km ultramarathon. Results of a 100-km race incorporating the World Masters Championships were used to identify differences in relative speeds in each 10-km segment between participants finishing in the first, second, third and fourth quartiles of overall positions (Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively). Similar analyses were performed between the top and bottom 50% of finishers in each age category, as well as within male and female categories. Pacing varied between athletes achieving different absolute performance levels. Group 1 ran at significantly lower relative speeds than all other groups in the first three 10-km segments (all P < 0.01), and significantly higher relative speeds than Group 4 in the 6th and 10th (both P < 0.01), and Group 2 in the 8th (P = 0.04). Group 4 displayed significantly higher relative speeds than Group 2 and 3 in the first three segments (all P < 0.01). Overall strategies remained consistent across age categories, although a similar phenomenon was observed within each category whereby 'top' competitors displayed lower relative speeds than 'bottom' competitors in the early stages, but higher relative speeds in the later stages. Females showed lower relative starting speeds and higher finishing speeds than males. 'Top' and 'bottom' finishing males displayed differing strategies, but this was not the case within females. Although pacing remained consistent across age categories, it differed with level of performance within each, possibly suggesting strategies are anchored on direct competitors. Strategy differs between genders and differs depending on performance level achieved in males but not females.


Pacing; ageing; endurance; performance

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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