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Injury Occurrence and Mood States During a Desert Ultramarathon

Graham, Scott M. MSc*,†; McKinley, Mairi MSc; Chris, Connaboy C. MSc; Westbury, Tony PhD; Baker, Julien S. PhD*; Kilgore, Lon PhD*; Florida-James, Geraint PhD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2012 - Volume 22 - Issue 6 - p 462–466
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3182694734
Original Research

Objective: To describe injuries and illnesses presented and profile mood states and sleep patterns during a desert environment ultramarathon.

Design: Prospective study gathering data on mood states and injury patterns.

Setting: Gobi Desert, Mongolia.

Participants: Eleven male competitors (mean mass, 83.7 ± 7.1 kg; body mass index, 24 ± 1.79 kg/m2; age, 33 ± 11 years).

Interventions: Injuries were clinically assessed and recorded each day.

Main Outcome Measures: Mood state was assessed using the Brunel Mood Scale.

Results: All subjects presented with abrasion injuries, dehydration, and heat stress. Vigor decreased over the first 6 days while fatigue increased (P < 0.05). Fatigue and vigor recovered on the final morning. The observed recovery was set against increasing levels of depression, tension, and confusion, which peaked at days 5/6 but returned to day 1 levels on the 7th day morning (P < 0.05). Mean sleep duration (6:17 ± 00:48 hours:minutes; lowest on day 6, 4:43 ± 01:54 hours:minutes) did not vary significantly across the 7 days but did correlate with mood alterations (P < 0.05). Increased anger and fatigue correlated strongly with sleep disruption (r = 0.736 and 0.768, respectively). Vigor and depression displayed a moderately strong correlation to sleep (r = 0.564 and −0.530).

Conclusions: Injury patterns were similar to those reported in other adventure/ultradistance events. Consistent with previous work, data show increased fatigue and reduced vigor in response to an arduous physical challenge.

*Department of Sport, Health and Exercise, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, Scotland

School of Life, Sport and Social Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland

School of Social and Health Sciences, University of Abertay, Dundee City, Scotland.

Corresponding Author: Scott M. Graham, MSc, School of Exercise and Health Science, University of the West of Scotland, High Street, Paisley PA1 2BE, Scotland (

The authors report no funding or conflicts of interest.

Received October 18, 2011

Accepted July 5, 2012

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.