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The Age of Peak Marathon Performance in Cross-Country Skiing—The “Engadin Ski Marathon”

Knechtle, Beat1,2; Nikolaidis, Pantelis, T.3

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: April 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 1131–1136
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001931
Original Research

Knechtle, B and Nikolaidis, PT. The age of peak marathon performance in cross-country skiing—the “Engadin Ski Marathon.” J Strength Cond Res 32(4): 1131–1136, 2018—The age of the best endurance performance has been well investigated in flat city running marathons. However, we have no knowledge about the age of peak marathon performance in cross-country skiing, which would be of great practical value for athletes and coaches. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to examine the age of peak marathon performance in cross-country skiing. Participants were 162,991 men and 34,833 women competing between 1998 and 2016 in the “Engadin Ski Marathon.” We considered the fastest for both women and men, and all finishers in 1-year age intervals. The men-to-women ratio increased across ages (r2 = 0.55, p < 0.0001). Men (44.27 ± 0.03 years, 15.73 ± 0.01 km·h−1) were 5.98 ± 0.07 years older and 2.14 ± 0.02 km·h−1 faster (p < 0.0001) than women (38.29 ± 0.06 years, 13.58 ± 0.01 km·h−1). Considering the fastest participants in 1-year age intervals, the fastest speed for men (30.33 km·h−1) was achieved at the age of 29 years, and for women (28.76 km·h−1) at the age of 24 years. Considering all participants, the fastest speed for men (17.69 km·h−1) was observed at the age of 18 years, whereas for women (15.76 km·h−1) it was at the age of 17 years. In summary, for athletes and coaches, the age of peak performance in cross-country skiers competing in a marathon distance was much younger and closer to the peak of aerobic capacity than what was found by previous studies in marathon road runners.

1Health Center St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland;

2Institute of Primary Care, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; and

3Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Nikaia, Greece

Address correspondence to Dr. Beat Knechtle,

Copyright © 2018 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.