Ultramarathon trail running comparison of performance-matched men and women

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Sep;40(9):1681-6. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318177eb63.


Purpose: To determine whether women matched with men for age and performance in a 50-km trail ultramarathon performed differently than the men in 80- and 161-km trail ultramarathons.

Methods: Race results from 1990 to 2007 were examined to identify finishers of the Way Too Cool 50-km Race, the American River 80-km Race, and the 161-km Western States Endurance Run in the same year. Matching of women with men for age (mean difference = 1 yr) and 50-km finish time (mean absolute variation = 1.5%) yielded 86 unique pairs from which 161-km performances were compared. A subset of 39 pairs allowed for comparison of all three races.

Results: Mean ages of the men and women were 42-44 yr, and mean +/- SD of 50-km running speed was 152 +/- 20 m x min(-1) for both sexes. Mean +/- SD running speeds for the 80-km race (151 +/- 20 and 150 +/- 22 m x min(-1) for the women and men, respectively) and for the 161-km race (102 +/- 13 and 103 +/- 12 m x min(-1) for the women and men, respectively) were not different between the women and men.

Conclusions: Women and men who are matched for 50-km trail running performance also perform similarly in trail runs of 80- and 161-km distances.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Running*
  • Sex Factors
  • United States