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Performance differences between sexes in 50-mile to 3,100-mile ultramarathons


Zingg, Matthias A; Knechtle, Beat; Rosemann, Thomas; Rüst, Christoph A (2015). Performance differences between sexes in 50-mile to 3,100-mile ultramarathons. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, 6:7-21.

Abstract

Anecdotal reports have assumed that women would be able to outrun men in long-distance running. The aim of this study was to test this assumption by investigating the changes in performance difference between sexes in the best ultramarathoners in 50-mile, 100-mile, 200-mile, 1,000-mile, and 3,100-mile events held worldwide between 1971 and 2012. The sex differences in running speed for the fastest runners ever were analyzed using one-way analysis of variance with subsequent Tukey-Kramer posthoc analysis. Changes in sex difference in running speed of the annual fastest were analyzed using linear and nonlinear regression analyses, correlation analyses, and mixed-effects regression analyses. The fastest men ever were faster than the fastest women ever in 50-mile (17.5%), 100-mile (17.4%), 200-mile (9.7%), 1,000-mile (20.2%), and 3,100-mile (18.6%) events. For the ten fastest finishers ever, men were faster than women in 50-mile (17.1%±1.9%), 100-mile (19.2%±1.5%), and 1,000-mile (16.7%±1.6%) events. No correlation existed between sex difference and running speed for the fastest ever (r (2)=0.0039, P=0.91) and the ten fastest ever (r (2)=0.15, P=0.74) for all distances. For the annual fastest, the sex difference in running speed decreased linearly in 50-mile events from 14.6% to 8.9%, remained unchanged in 100-mile (18.0%±8.4%) and 1,000-mile (13.7%±9.1%) events, and increased in 3,100-mile events from 12.5% to 16.9%. For the annual ten fastest runners, the performance difference between sexes decreased linearly in 50-mile events from 31.6%±3.6% to 8.9%±1.8% and in 100-mile events from 26.0%±4.4% to 24.7%±0.9%. To summarize, the fastest men were ~17%-20% faster than the fastest women for all distances from 50 miles to 3,100 miles. The linear decrease in sex difference for 50-mile and 100-mile events may suggest that women are reducing the sex gap for these distances.

Anecdotal reports have assumed that women would be able to outrun men in long-distance running. The aim of this study was to test this assumption by investigating the changes in performance difference between sexes in the best ultramarathoners in 50-mile, 100-mile, 200-mile, 1,000-mile, and 3,100-mile events held worldwide between 1971 and 2012. The sex differences in running speed for the fastest runners ever were analyzed using one-way analysis of variance with subsequent Tukey-Kramer posthoc analysis. Changes in sex difference in running speed of the annual fastest were analyzed using linear and nonlinear regression analyses, correlation analyses, and mixed-effects regression analyses. The fastest men ever were faster than the fastest women ever in 50-mile (17.5%), 100-mile (17.4%), 200-mile (9.7%), 1,000-mile (20.2%), and 3,100-mile (18.6%) events. For the ten fastest finishers ever, men were faster than women in 50-mile (17.1%±1.9%), 100-mile (19.2%±1.5%), and 1,000-mile (16.7%±1.6%) events. No correlation existed between sex difference and running speed for the fastest ever (r (2)=0.0039, P=0.91) and the ten fastest ever (r (2)=0.15, P=0.74) for all distances. For the annual fastest, the sex difference in running speed decreased linearly in 50-mile events from 14.6% to 8.9%, remained unchanged in 100-mile (18.0%±8.4%) and 1,000-mile (13.7%±9.1%) events, and increased in 3,100-mile events from 12.5% to 16.9%. For the annual ten fastest runners, the performance difference between sexes decreased linearly in 50-mile events from 31.6%±3.6% to 8.9%±1.8% and in 100-mile events from 26.0%±4.4% to 24.7%±0.9%. To summarize, the fastest men were ~17%-20% faster than the fastest women for all distances from 50 miles to 3,100 miles. The linear decrease in sex difference for 50-mile and 100-mile events may suggest that women are reducing the sex gap for these distances.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of General Practice
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:01 Jul 2015 14:25
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:17
Publisher:Dove Medical Press Ltd.
ISSN:1179-1543
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.2147/OAJSM.S76490
PubMed ID:25653567
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-111211

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