Athletic performance and serial weight changes during 12- and 24-hour ultra-marathons

Wei Fong Kao, Chih Ling Shyu, Xiu Wu Yang, Teh Fu Hsu, Jin Jong Chen, Wei Chun Kao, [No Value] Polun-Chang, Yi Jen Huang, Fon Chu Kuo, Chun I. Huang, Chen Hsen Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: The principal objective of this study was to evaluate serial weight changes in athletes during 12- and 24-hour ultra-marathons and to correlate these changes with athletic performance, namely the distance covered. DESIGN: This was a prospective study. SETTING: The 2003 Soochow University international ultra-marathon. PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-two race participants. INTERVENTIONS: 12- or 24-hour ultra-marathon. MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: Body weight changes were measured before, at 4-hour intervals during, and immediately after the 12- and 24-hour races. RESULTS: Significant overall decreases in body weight were apparent at the conclusion of both races. The mean relative body weight change after the 12-hour race was -2.89 ± 1.56%, ranging from 0 to 6.5%. The mean relative body weight change after the 24-hour race was -5.05 ± 2.28%, ranging from -0.77% to -11.40%. Of runners in the 24-hour race, 26% lost greater than 7% of baseline body weight during the race. During both the 12- and 24-hour races, the greatest weight change (decrease) occurred during the first 4 hours. Weight remained relatively stable after 8 hours, although a further decrease was apparent between 16 and 20 hours in the 24-hour participants. Weight change had no bearing on performance in the 12-hour race, whereas weight loss was positively associated with performance in the 24-hour race. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that the majority of weight decrease/dehydration in both the 12- and 24-hour races occurred during the first 8 hours. Hence, to maintain body weight, fluid intake should be optimized in the first 8 hours for both 12- and 24-hour runners and in 16 to 20 hours for 24-hour marathon runners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-158
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Athletic performance
  • Body weight
  • Dehydration
  • Endurance
  • Ultra-marathon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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