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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2013 Aug;53(4):403-8.

Anthropometric characteristics of top-class Kenyan marathon runners.

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CeRiSM, Research Center, "Sport, Mountain and Health", University of Verona, Rovereto, Trento, Italy -



This study aims to: 1) describe the current anthropometric profiles of Kenyan marathon runners and 2) establish a set of reference values useful for future investigations on athlete selection, talent identification, and training programme development.


The participants were 14 male top-class Kenyan marathon runners (mean [s] age 27.71 [3.75] yrs, height 171.21 [6.12] cm, body mass 57.71 [4.02] kg, marathon personal best 02h 07min 16s (01min 55s); training volume: 180-220 km·wk-1; high:low intensity training ratio: 1:2). The anthropometric profiles included the measurement of skinfolds, and segment lengths, breadths, and girths. To estimate body density (BD) multiple regression equations were calculated using the sum of 7-skinfolds method and then converted to percentage of body fat (%BF). The somatotype, somatotype dispersion mean (SDM), somatotype attitudinal mean (SAM), and height to weight ratio (HWR) as well as the skinfolds extremity to trunk ratio (E:T) were also calculated.


The mean (s) of BD, %BF, SDM, SAM, HWR and E:T were 1.13 (0.02), 8.87 (0.07) %, 4.58 (3.62), 0.51 (0.09), 44.32 (1.06), and 0.36 (0.11), respectively. The mean (s) endomorphy, mesomorphy, and ectomorphy were 1.53 (0.32), 1.61 (1.81), and 3.86 (0.78), respectively.


Top-class Kenyan marathon runners seem to have ectomorphy as dominant, with endomorphy and mesomorphy more than one-half unit lower. Despite population comparisons would be required to identify any connection between specific anthropometric dimensions, these reference data should be useful to practitioners and researchers, providing useful information for talent identification and development and for the assessment of training progression in marathon.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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