The aspect of nationality and performance in a mountain ultra-marathon: The ‘Swiss Alpine Marathon’
Runners from East Africa and especially from Kenya dominate middle- and long- distance running races worldwide. The aim of the present study was to investigate the participation and performance trends regarding the nationality of runners in a mountain ultra-marathon held in partially high alpine terrain. We hypothesized that Kenyan runners, living and training in the Great Rift Valley, a predominantly hilly, mountainous and altitudinous region like the Alps, would dominate also a mountain ultra-marathon because they are accustomed to high altitudes and mountainous terrains. We examined the participation and performance trends of ultra-marathoners regarding their nationalities in the 78-km ‘Swiss Alpine Marathon’ including 21 km in high alpine terrain where 12,194 men and 1,781 women finished between 1998 and 2011. A total of 1,682 women and 11,580 men, corresponding to 94.9 % of all finishers, originated from Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Great Britain, Austria, the Netherlands and Luxembourg where only one male Kenyan runner ever participated. Female runners from Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Sweden as well as male runners from Denmark, Great Britain, and Sweden increased their participation significantly. Women from the Netherlands became slower whereas women originating from Great Britain became faster. Men from the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland became slower. The fastest runners originated from Switzerland for both women and men. To summarize, runners from Switzerland dominated the ‘Swiss Alpine Marathon’. Paradoxically, and interestingly, the Kenyan runners were not dominating the ‘Swiss Alpine Marathon’. Further studies should investigate Kenyan participation and performance in ultra-marathons in Africa such as the ‘Comrades Marathon’.
Baker, A. B., & Tang, Y. Q. (2010) Aging performance for masters records in athletics, swimming, rowing, cycling, triathlon, and weightlifting. Experimental Aging Research, 36, 453-477. https://doi.org/10.1080/0361073X.2010.507433
Berthelot, G., Len, S., Hellard, P., Tafflet, M., Guillaume, M., Vollmer, J. C., Gager, B., Quinquis, L., Marc, A., & Toussaint, J. F. (2011) Exponential growth combined with exponential decline explains lifetime performance evolution in individual and human species. AGE. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-011-9274-9
Bongard, V., McDermott, A. Y., Dallal, G. E., & Schaefer, E. J. (2007) Effects of age and gender on physical performance. AGE, 29, 77-85. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-007-9034-z
Craig, A. B., & Pendergast, D. R. (1979) Relationship of stroke rate, distance per stroke, and variation in competitive swimming. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 11, 278-283. https://doi.org/10.1249/00005768-197901130-00011
Costa, M. J., Bragada, J. A., Marinho, D. A., Reis, V. M., Silva, A. J., & Barbosa, T. M. (2010) Longitudinal assessment of swimming performance in the 200-m freestyle event. The Open Sports Sciences Journal, 3, 92-94. https://doi.org/10.2174/1875399X010030100092
Donato, A. J., Tench, K., Glueck, D. H., Seals, D. R., Eskurza, I., & Tanaka, H. (2003) Declines in physiological functional capacity with age: a longitudinal study in peak swimming performance. Journal of Applied Physiology, 94, 764-769. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00438.2002
Fairbrother, J. T. (2007a) Prediction of 1500-m freestyle swimming times for older masters all-American swimmers. Experimental Aging Research, 33, 4, 461-471. https://doi.org/10.1080/03610730701525402
Fairbrother, J. T. (2007b) Age-related changes in top-ten men's U.S. Masters 50m freestyle swim times as a function of finishing place. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 105, 1289-1293. https://doi.org/10.2466/pms.105.4.1289-1293
Geladas, N. D., Nassis, G. P., & Pavlicevic, S. (2005) Somatic and physical traits affecting sprint swimming performance in young swimmers. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 26, 139-144. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2004-817862
Issurin, V., Kaufman, L., Lustig, G., & Tenenbaum, G. (2008) Factors affecting peak performance in the swimming competition of the Athens Olympic Games. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 48, 1-8.
Jagomägi, G., & Jürimäe, T. (2005) The influence of anthropometrical and flexibility parameters on the results of breaststroke swimming. Anthropologischer Anzeiger, 63, 213-219.
Jürimäe, J., Haljaste, K., Cicchella, A., Lätt, E., Purge, P., Leppik, A., & Jürimäe, T. (2007) Analysis of swimming performance from physical, physiological, and biomechanical parameters in young swimmers. Pediatric Exercise Science, 19, 70-81. https://doi.org/10.1123/pes.19.1.70
Lepers, R. (2008) An analysis of Hawaii Ironman performances in elite triathletes from 1981 to 2007. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 40, 1828-1834. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e31817e91a4
Lepers, R., & Maffiuletti, N. (2011) Age and gender interactions in ultra-endurance performance: insight from triathlon. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43, 134-139. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181e57997
Nevill, A. M., Whyte, G. P., Holder, R. L., & Peyrebrune, M. (2007) Are there limits to swimming world records? International Journal of Sports Medicine, 28, 1012-1017. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2007-965088
Ransdell, L. B., Vener, J., & Huberty, J. (2009) Masters athletes: an analysis of running, swimming and cycling performance by age and gender. Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness, 7, 61-73. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1728-869X(09)60024-1
Reaburn, P., & Dascombe, B. (2008) Endurance performance in masters athletes. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 5, 31-42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11556-008-0029-2
Reaburn, P., & Dascombe, B. (2009) Anaerobic performance in masters athletes. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 6, 39-53. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11556-008-0041-6
Rubin, R. T., & Rahe, R. H. (2010) Effects of aging in masters swimmers: 40-year review and suggestions for optimal health benefits. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, 1, 39-44. https://doi.org/10.2147/OAJSM.S9315
Saavedra, J. M., Escalante, Y., Garcia-Hermoso, A., Arellano, R., & Navarro, F. S. (2012) A twelve-year analysis of pacing strategies in 200 m and 400 m individual medley in international swimming competitions. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, [Epub ahead of print]. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e318248aed5
Schneider, P., & Meyer, F. (2005) Anthropometric and muscle strength evaluation in prepubescent and pubescent swimmer boys and girls. Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Esporte, 11, 200-203.
Schulz, R., & Curnow, C. (1988) Peak performance and age among superathletes: track and field, swimming, baseball, tennis, and golf. Journal of Gerontology, 43, 113-120. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronj/43.5.P113
Shepard, R.J. (1998) Aging and Exercise. Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, T.D. Fahey (Editor), Internet Society for Sport Science, http://sportsci.org.
Siders, W. A., Lukaski, H. C., & Bolonchuk, W. W. (1993) Relationships among swimming body performance, body composition and somatotype in competitive collegiate swimmers. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 33, 166-171.
Tanaka, H., & Seals, D. R. (1997) Age and gender interactions in physiological functional capacity: insight from swimming performance. Journal of Applied Physiology, 82, 846-851. https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.1922.214.171.1246
Tanaka, H., & Seals, D. R. (2003) Dynamic exercise performance in masters athletes: insight into the effects of primary human aging on physiological functional capacity. Journal of Applied Physiology, 95, 2152-2162. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00320.2003
Tanaka, H., & Seals, D. R. (2008) Endurance exercise performance in masters athletes: age-associated changes and underlying physiological mechanisms. Journal of Physiology, 586, 55-63. https://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2007.141879
Tuuri, G., Loftin, M., & Oescher, J. (2002) Association of swim distance and age with body composition in adult female swimmers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34, 2110-2114. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200212000-00037
Zamparo, P. (2006) Effects of age and gender on the propelling efficiency of the arm stroke. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 97, 52-58. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-006-0133-9