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Ultramarathon Trail Running Comparison of Performance-Matched Men and Women


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 9 - p 1681-1686
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318177eb63
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance

Purpose: To determine whether women matched with men for age and performance in a 50-km trail ultramarathon performed differently than the men in 80- and 161-km trail ultramarathons.

Methods: Race results from 1990 to 2007 were examined to identify finishers of the Way Too Cool 50-km Race, the American River 80-km Race, and the 161-km Western States Endurance Run in the same year. Matching of women with men for age (mean difference = 1 yr) and 50-km finish time (mean absolute variation = 1.5%) yielded 86 unique pairs from which 161-km performances were compared. A subset of 39 pairs allowed for comparison of all three races.

Results: Mean ages of the men and women were 42-44 yr, and mean ± SD of 50-km running speed was 152 ± 20 m·min−1 for both sexes. Mean ± SD running speeds for the 80-km race (151 ± 20 and 150 ± 22 m·min−1 for the women and men, respectively) and for the 161-km race (102 ± 13 and 103 ± 12 m·min−1 for the women and men, respectively) were not different between the women and men.

Conclusions: Women and men who are matched for 50-km trail running performance also perform similarly in trail runs of 80- and 161-km distances.

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Northern California Health Care System and University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA

Address for correspondence: Martin D. Hoffman, M.D., Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (117), Sacramento VA Medical Center, 10535 Hospital Way Mather, CA 95655-1200; E-mail:

Submitted for publication October 2007.

Accepted for publication March 2008.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine