Article Title



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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