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J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Aug;30(8):2145-55. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001326.

Similarities and Differences in Pacing Patterns in a 161-km and 101-km Ultra-Distance Road Race.

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1Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; 2Sports Science Centre, Singapore Sports Institute, Sport Singapore, Singapore; and 3Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore.


Tan, PLS, Tan, FHY, and Bosch, AN. Similarities and differences in pacing patterns in a 161-km and 101-km ultra-distance road race. J Strength Cond Res 30(8): 2145-2155, 2016-The purpose of this study was to establish and compare the pacing patterns of fast and slow finishers in a tropical ultra-marathon. Data were collected from the Craze Ultra-marathon held on the 22nd and 21st of September in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Finishers of the 161-km (N = 47) and 101-km (N = 120) categories of the race were divided into thirds (groups A-C) by merit of finishing time. Altogether, 17 and 11 split times were recorded for the 161-km and 101-km finishers, respectively, and used to calculate the mean running speed for each distance segment. Running speed for the first segment was normalized to 100, with all subsequent splits adjusted accordingly. Running speed during the last 5 km was calculated against the mean race pace to establish the existence of an end spurt. A reverse J-shaped pacing profile was demonstrated in all groups for both distance categories and only 38% of the finishers executed an end spurt. In the 101-km category, in comparison with groups B and C, group A maintained a significantly more even pace (p = 0.013 and 0.001, respectively) and completed the race at a significantly higher percent of initial starting speed (p = 0.001 and 0.001, respectively). Descriptive data also revealed that the top 5 finishers displayed a "herd-behavior" by staying close to the lead runner in the initial portion of the race. These findings demonstrate that to achieve a more even pace, recreational ultra-runners should adopt a patient sustainable starting speed, with less competitive runners setting realistic performance goals whereas competitive runners with a specific time goal to consider running in packs of similar pace.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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