04 Jun Effects of aging on performance during the marathon des Sables: focus on athletes aged 53-80 years
Tsoutsoubi L, Ioannou LG, Amorim T, Tsianos GI, Flouris AD (2018) Effects of Aging on Performance during the Marathon Des Sables: Focus on Athletes Aged 53-80 Years. J Geriatr Med Gerontol 4:045. doi.org/10.23937/2469-5858/1510045
The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of aging and sex on athletic performance during the 7-day Marathon des Sables (MdS) in the Sahara Desert. Anonymous data for age, sex, and average running speed (km/h) for all the athletes who registered in the MdS during the period 2000-2015 were retrieved from the official website of the race and other endurance websites. Participants were distributed into the following age groups: 18-22 yrs, 23-27 yrs, 28-32 yrs, 33-37 yrs, 38-42 yrs, 43-47 yrs, 48-52 yrs, 53-57 yrs, 58-62 yrs, 63-67 yrs, and 68-80 yrs. Average running speed (km/h) during the entire race was used to characterize athletic performance. Results showed that the number of participants in the MdS has been steadily increasing from 570 in the year 2000 to 1,329 in the year 2015 (p < 0.001). Men (5.78 ± 1.55 km/h) demonstrate statistically increased performance throughout the MdS compared to women (5.04 ± 1.25 km/h). Abandonment data show that approximately 6.5% of the athletes do not complete the race. The highest performance in the MdS is achieved by athletes 33-42 years-old (p < 0.05). Athletes competing in the MdS are as old as 80 years and the number of athletes older than 52-years-old is increasing. It is concluded that the highest performance in the MdS is achieved by athletes 33-42 years. Nevertheless, ageing past 42 years is associated with decreased performance. Given the steadily increased participation of athletes aged > 52 years, future studies should investigate the physiological impact of this extreme event on elderly individuals during and following the race.
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