P. Nilssen1, C. Connolly2, K. Johnson1, B. Cohoe1, T. Miller3, W.B. Hiller1

1Washington State University, Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Spokane, WA

2Washington State University, College of Education, Pullman, WA

3Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Roanoke, VA

Ironman-distance triathlons are among the most rigorous competitions for ultra-endurance athletes worldwide. Previous studies investigating medical events are limited by isolated samples, number of events analyzed, and mixed-distance triathlon populations. PURPOSE: To examine the injury and illness characteristics, treatments, and outcomes of elite ultra-endurance triathletes over three decades of competition. METHODS: A retrospective study from a single Ironman-distance triathlon championship (1989-2019) was performed by examining in-race medical records. Demographics, injury type, treatment, and depositional data were explored using descriptive statistics. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated to determine likelihoods of concurrent medical presentations. RESULTS: Data analyzed represents 22.1% (n = 10,533) of all race participants. A bimodal distribution depicted younger (<35) and older athletes (70+) presenting at higher percentages than middle-aged adults. Female athletes also presented at higher percentages when compared to males (24.4% vs 19.8%, p < 0.001). The most common medical events were dehydration (438/1000) and nausea (400/1000). Intravenous fluid was the most common medical treatment (48%). Of the athletes receiving medical care, 13.0% did not finish the race, with 1.7% requiring hospital transport. The odds of significant concurrent medical presentations were found and are displayed in Figure 1. CONCLUSION: Ultra-endurance triathlon events have significant medical demands, requiring many triathletes to seek in-race medical care. A more thorough understanding of the common medical occurrences, including concurrent presentations and treatments, will allow for heightened care and optimal race management.

Figure 1-PN.docx (572 kB)
Figure 1

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