Photo by Massimo Sartirana (Unsplash)

Ultra-endurance events are among the most demanding sport specialities, at both, physical and psychological levels. Despite this hardness, ultra-endurance events have become very popular in recent years.

Performance in these races depends on many elements. A recent research article decided to analyse differences in psychophysiological parameters between finishers and non-finishers of a mountain ultra-endurance event.


The study

Seventy volunteers (46 finishers and 24 non-finishers) male athletes were analysed. They participated either in the 2016 Canfranc-Canfranc ultra-endurance mountain race (100k and 8848 m of positive change of altitude) or the Gran Trail de Peñalara (112 km and 5100 m of positive change of altitude).


The results

  • Lower marathon times were correlated to greater performance in ultra-endurance events above 100 km. The capacity of running at higher intensity would allow these athletes to have a better aerobic metabolic system.
  • Finishers presented a smaller consumption of fluids the day before the race when comparing with non-finishers. Previous works highlight the importance of appropriate fluid intake DURING the competition instead of greater fluid intake BEFORE the race. Incorrect hydration can lead to hyponatremia or dehydration and alter performance.
  • Finishers presented greater experience in this type of race events compared to non-finishers. Experience contributes to better levels of self-knowledge.
  • Finishers showed lower values of systolic blood pressure when compared to non-finishers. It is reported as a physiological adaptation to aerobic training.
  • Lower BMI (Body Mass Index) values were linked with better performances.
  • The nutritional analysis during the week of the race did not present any differences.
  • No differences in oral health, as opposite to other studies that found relationships between poor oral health and sport performance.
  • No differences between finisher and non-finisher athletes regarding perceived stress or mental health in general.



  • COMMON EFFECTS of an ultra-endurance mountain race: dehydration, lower systolic blood pressure, weight and leg strength muscle values and an increase of heart rate.
  • FINISHERS vs. NON-FINISHERS: lower values of systolic blood pressure, weight, BMI, marathon time and fluid intake before competition day in the finishers group.
  • PREDICTORS OF PERFORMANCE: BMI, pre-race hydration, and performance in lower distance races could be used as indicators of performance and help to improve training schedule and nutritional/psychological interventions.



Multidisciplinary Analysis of Differences Between Finisher and Non-finisher Ultra-Endurance Mountain Athletes. Belinchón-deMiguel P, Tornero-Aguilera JF, Dalamitros AA, Nikolaidis PT, Rosemann T, Knechtle B, Clemente-Suárez VJ. Front Physiol. 2019; 10: 1507. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01507

Canfranc station, start and finish of the Ultra Canfranc-Canfranc (Photo by Marc Pascual)

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