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Sex differences in Ultra-Triathlon performance at increasing race distance


Rüst, C A; Knechtle, B; Knechtle, P; Rosemann, T; Lepers, R (2013). Sex differences in Ultra-Triathlon performance at increasing race distance. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 116(2):1-17.

Abstract

It has been argued that women should be able to outrun men in ultra-endurance distances. The present study investigated the sex difference in overall race times and split times between elite female and male Ironman triathletes competing in Ironman Hawaii (3.8 km swimming, 180 km cycling, and 42.195 km running) and Double Iron ultra-triathletes (7.6 km swimming, 360 km cycling, and 84.4 km running). Data from 20,638 athletes, including 5,163 women and 15,475 men competing in Ironman Hawaii and from 143 women and 1,252 men competing in Double Iron ultra-triathlon races held worldwide between 1999 and 2011 were analyzed. In Ironman Hawaii, the sex difference in performance of the top three athletes remained unchanged during the period studied for overall race time. For Double Iron ultra-triathletes, the sex difference for the top three athletes remained unchanged for overall race time. Sex differences increased as endurance race distances increased and showed no changes over time. It appears that women are unlikely to close the gap in ultra-endurance performance with men in ultra-triathlons in the near future. Physiological (e.g., maximum oxygen uptake) and anthropometric characteristics (e.g., skeletal muscle mass) may set biological limits for women.

Abstract

It has been argued that women should be able to outrun men in ultra-endurance distances. The present study investigated the sex difference in overall race times and split times between elite female and male Ironman triathletes competing in Ironman Hawaii (3.8 km swimming, 180 km cycling, and 42.195 km running) and Double Iron ultra-triathletes (7.6 km swimming, 360 km cycling, and 84.4 km running). Data from 20,638 athletes, including 5,163 women and 15,475 men competing in Ironman Hawaii and from 143 women and 1,252 men competing in Double Iron ultra-triathlon races held worldwide between 1999 and 2011 were analyzed. In Ironman Hawaii, the sex difference in performance of the top three athletes remained unchanged during the period studied for overall race time. For Double Iron ultra-triathletes, the sex difference for the top three athletes remained unchanged for overall race time. Sex differences increased as endurance race distances increased and showed no changes over time. It appears that women are unlikely to close the gap in ultra-endurance performance with men in ultra-triathlons in the near future. Physiological (e.g., maximum oxygen uptake) and anthropometric characteristics (e.g., skeletal muscle mass) may set biological limits for women.

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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:2013
Deposited On:12 Aug 2013 07:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:54
Publisher:Ammons Scientific
ISSN:0031-5125
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.2466/03.06.PMS.116.2

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