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Wilderness Environ Med. 2018 Mar;29(1):66-71. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2017.09.003. Epub 2018 Jan 12.

Psychological Attributes of Ultramarathoners.

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Family Medicine Residency Program, John Peter Smith Hospital, Fort Worth, TX (Dr Buck). Electronic address:
Department of Family Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, CO (Drs Spittler, Reed, and Khodaee).



As the popularity of ultramarathon participation increases, there still exists a lack of understanding of the unique psychological characteristics of ultramarathon runners. The current study sought to investigate some of the psychological and behavioral factors that are involved in ultramarathon running.


We obtained information from participants of the Bear Chase Trail Race via an online survey. This race is a single-day, multidistance race consisting of a 10 k, half marathon, 50 k, 50 mi, and 100 k run in Lakewood, Colorado, at a base altitude of 1680 m with total altitude in climbs ranging from 663 to 2591 m. We correlated information from the Exercise Addiction Inventory and the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 and demographic information with race finish times.


Out of 200 runners who started the race, 98 (48%) completed the survey. Over half of the runners were men (61.2%), and the average age was 39.0 years (SD±8.9; range 21-64 years). A number of respondents (20%) screened positive for exercise addiction concerns. Approximately 20% of our sample screened positive for depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire-2 score >3). The majority of participants reported receiving strong social support from current partners with regard to their ultramarathon running training time and goals.


Although only a screening, the number of positive screens on the Exercise Addiction Inventory suggests use of screening measures with an ultramarathon running population. Athletes with positive screening tests should be fully evaluated for depression and exercise addiction because this would enable appropriate athlete support and treatment referral.


PHQ-2; exercise addiction; screening; ultramarathon

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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