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Upper arm circumference is associated with race performance in ultra-endurance runners
  1. B Knechtle1,
  2. P Knechtle1,
  3. I Schulze2,
  4. G Kohler3
  1. 1
    Gesundheitszentrum St Gallen, St Gallen, Switzerland
  2. 2
    Deutschlandlauf, Horb-Nordstetten, Germany
  3. 3
    Division of Biophysical Chemistry, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  1. B Knechtle, Gesundheitszentrum St Gallen, Switzerland; beat.knechtle{at}


Objective: To investigate the association of anthropometric parameters to race performance in ultra-endurance runners in a multistage ultra-endurance run.

Design: Descriptive field study.

Setting: The Deutschlandlauf 2006 race in Germany, where athletes had to run 1200 km within 17 consecutive days. There were no interventions.

Subjects: In total, there were 19 male Caucasian ultra-endurancerunners (mean (SD) 46.2 (9.6) years, 71.8 (5.2) kg, 179 (6) cm, BMI 22.5 (1.9) kg/m2).

Main outcome measurements: Determination of body mass, body height, length of lower limbs, skin-fold thicknesses, circumference of limbs, body mass index (BMI), percentage skeletal muscle mass (%SM), and percentage body fat (%BF) in 19 successful finishers in order to correlate anthropometric parameters with running performance.

Results: A significant association of upper arm circumference with the total running time was found (p<0.05, r2 = 0.26). No significant association was found with the directly measured anthropometric properties body height, body mass, average skin-fold thickness and the circumference of thigh and calf (p>0.05). Furthermore, no significant association was observed between the running time and the calculated parameters BMI, %BF, and %SM (p>0.05).

Conclusions: In an ultra-endurance run over 1200 km within 17 consecutive days, circumference of the upper arm was the only factor associated with performance in well-experienced ultra-endurance runners. Body mass, BMI, body height, length of limbs, skin-fold thicknesses, circumference of limbs and the calculated percentage body composition of skeletal muscle mass and body fat showed no association with running performance.

  • body mass index
  • BMI
  • skeletal muscle mass
  • fat mass
  • stage race

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  • Competing interests: None.

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