Introduction: Ultraendurance athletes who maintain a very high volume of exercise may, as a result of greater production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), be particularly susceptible to oxidative damage.
Purpose: This study sought to examine and compare pre- and postrace markers of oxidative stress in ultraendurance athletes training for, and competing in, either a half or a full Ironman triathlon.
Methods: Resting and postexercise blood was sampled from 16 half Ironman triathletes, 29 full Ironman triathletes, and age-matched, relatively inactive controls. Blood was analyzed for markers of oxidative stress (malondialdehyde (MDA) concentration) and antioxidant status (glutathione peroxidase (GPX), catalase (CAT), and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities).
Results: Compared with controls, the half Ironman triathletes had significantly (P < 0.001) higher erythrocyte GPX activity at rest, whereas the Ironman triathletes had significantly (P < 0.05) lower resting plasma MDA and significantly (P < 0.05) greater resting activities of GPX and CAT compared with controls. As a result of the half Ironman triathlon, there was a significant (P < 0.05) increase in MDA and significant (P < 0.05) decreases in erythrocyte GPX, SOD, and CAT activities. These changes also occurred in response to the Ironman triathlon; MDA significantly (P < 0.05) increased, and there were significant (P < 0.001) decreases in GPX, CAT, and SOD activities. Users of antioxidant supplements in both the half and full Ironman races had significantly (P < 0.05) elevated MDA after races compared with nonsupplementers.
Conclusion: The present investigation indicates that training for and competing in half and full Ironman triathlons has different effects on erythrocyte antioxidant enzyme activities and oxidative stress.
1Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, AUSTRALIA; and 2School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
Address for correspondence: Wade L. Knez, Ph.D., Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, James Cook University, Queensland, 4870, Australia; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted for publication May 2006.
Accepted for publication September 2006.