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The problem with ultra-endurance athletes
  1. George Wortley1,
  2. Arthur A Islas2
  1. 1Lynchburg Family Medicine Residency, Lynchburg, Virginia, USA
  2. 2Department of Family and Community Medicine, Texas Tech Health Science Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine, El Paso, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr George Wortley, Lynchburg Family Medicine Residency, Lynchburg, VA, USA; george.wortley{at}

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Ultra-endurance competitions are defined as events that exceed 6 h.1 These long and gruelling athletic endeavours to most of us are of herculean proportions. For example, ultra-distance running is defined as an activity covering distances greater than a marathon. These include events of 50 km to 100 miles and beyond. Last year in the USA, it was estimated that 10 000 individuals competed in ultra-distance events.2 So what is the problem with ultra-endurance athletes?

We don't understand the athletes

The problem is that we, as healthcare providers, do not understand these athletes and they do not understand us. Frequently they come to our office seeking care and advice for an injury that occurred at mile 87 of a 100-mile event, our answer is “Do not do that again”. In doing so we fail to recognise that, specifically for ultra-endurance athletes, the mental fortitude and commitment to their sports is immense and that these athletes …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.