Background The Genghis Khan Ice Marathon took place in January 2016 in the mountains of the Terelj National Park, Mongolia at an altitude of 1800 metre. The route was a 26 mile marathon following the route of the frozen Tul Goll River. Conditions on race day were dry, sunny, light wind, with an air temperature of minus 35°C.
Aim To determine the motivation of a group of experienced ultra-runners competing in a marathon in an extreme cold environment.
Method A multinational group of experienced ultra-runners (n = 9, male 5, female 4, age range 25–53 years) completed a pre-race questionnaire to determine their motivation for competing both in ultra-distance running and in a race taking place in a challenging extreme environment. The 24 point modified Sport Motivation Scale was used, which consists of a seven point response to each question, with a maximum score of 168.
Results Eight athletes completed the questionnaire (male 4, female 4). Scores in the male group were significantly lower than the female group (male: 85, 93, 94, 120 v female: 111, 120, 121, 122) p = 0.045, CI −40.1 to −0.86 (paired t test). On closer analysis of the individual questions answered the responses in the female group tended to slant towards participation for individual goal attainment and external acknowledgment of this, the responses in the male group were more towards participation for personal satisfaction and wellbeing involved in ultra-running.
Conclusion All the athletes were very experienced in ultra-running having previously competed in mountain, desert or cold environments. A significant difference existed between male and female ultra-runners in their motivation for participation in the sport.
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