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2014 Research Activities

The following was emailed to 2014 entrants on May 15, 2014.

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Want to know how you can help advance science this year at the WSER?

We have several studies again this year, and we need your help for these to succeed. Please read the information below so you are aware of the studies and opportunities to help advance science. Note that you can immediately participate in Study 1. We would like to recruit participants in advance of registration for Studies 2-5, so please contact the investigators if you are interested in participating in those studies.

Marty Hoffman, MD
WSER Research Director

Study 1. Study on Psychological Predictors of Performance

This study examines the ways that ultramarathon runners use their minds to complete an ultramarathon. The study will take approximately 10-15 minutes of your time and will involve answering a series of questions in our online survey that will ask you about your basic demographic information, running history, training profile, and the ways in which you mentally train, prepare, and execute an ultramarathon race.

You will be asked to provide your name so that we can match your survey responses with your Run outcome. Once we have your Run results, all identifying information will be permanently erased from your survey responses.

As a thank you for your time, you will be entered into a random drawing for one of four $50 gift certificates to the WSER store for completing the online survey.

If you have any questions about your participation, please contact Dolores Christensen at christensen.dolores@gmail.com.

Study 2. Incidence and severity of gastrointestinal distress during a 100-mile ultra-marathon and it association with hydration status, core temperature and endotoxemia

During 100-mile ultramarathons, gastrointestinal (GI) distress is the primary reason for dropping out among non-finishers and it is the second most common problem impacting race performance among finishers. This study investigates the incidence and severity of GI distress in runners participating in the WSER, and explores possible mechanisms that may cause GI distress including hydration status, food intake and core temperature. We are looking for 20-30 participants for this study.

Participation includes the following:

Swallowing an ingestible thermometer (roughly the size of a multivitamin) 1 hour before the race start, to allow measurement of core body temperature at miles 30, 56, 78 and the finish.

Being briefly interviewed at miles 30, 56, 78 and the finish about food, fluid, and electrolyte capsule intake, and the incidence and severity of GI symptoms.

Giving a small sample of blood (about 1 teaspoon) pre-race and post-race for the measurement of blood lipopolysaccharide (LPS) concentration.

We anticipate data collection at miles 30, 56 and 78 taking less than 5 minutes.

To participate: Please contact (prior to the Run), Taylor Valentino (taylorvalentino@gmail.com or 415-408-8342) or Dr. Kristin Stuempfle (kstuempf@gettysburg.edu or 717-337-6448).

Study 3. The impact of training longevity, gender and age on the 12-lead ECG of the veteran ultra-endurance athlete: An aid for pre-participation screening

The 12-lead ECG is a quick diagnostic test that provides us with important information related to the health of your heart and is used routinely for pre-participation heart screening in young athletes.

At this year’s race (24-48 hours prior to the race) we will be undertaking a study to establish the normal 12-lead ECG criteria for the veteran endurance athlete. The ECG will take 5 minutes while you will be asked to complete a short questionnaire as well as having your height, weight and blood pressure taken. If considered appropriate (usually 10% of the screening population), we may invite you for an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) to improve the sensitivity of the screening – this will take an additional 20 minutes.

So if you are over 35 years old and want to know more about the health of your heart please volunteer for this study – the more participants we have the better. We can be found in the registration area on the Thursday and Friday before the race.

To participate: The study is under the direction of Dr. David Oxborough. If you require more detailed information or wish to participate in this study, please contact him prior to the Run at d.l.oxborough@ljmu.ac.uk.

Study 4. The impact of completing the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run on the 12-lead ECG: insights from conventional, right-sided and posterior lead placements

In 2011, we published data from the WSER highlighting a possible negative impact on the right side of the heart following completion of the race. We developed this further in 2013 with conventional 12-lead ECG findings providing some support for the structural and functional changes observed from the right side of the heart. That aside, the 12-lead ECG with conventional lead placements is limited in providing detail of the right side or posterior aspects of the heart and therefore in order to build on previous findings we propose to undertake a study utilizing 3 different resting 12-lead ECG’s. Furthermore we plan to assess the blood electrolyte concentration in order to establish any link to any changes in 12-lead ECG findings.

You will be required to have a 12-lead ECG with conventional lead placement, right-sided lead placement and posterior lead placements, have your blood pressure taken, provide a small venous blood sample and have your height and weight recorded 24-48 hours prior to the race and within 1 hour of completing the race. Each testing point will take approximately 15-20 minutes.

If you are interesting in learning about the health of your heart and the cardiac impact of completing the WSER, please volunteer for this study. We are looking for approximately 20-30 participants.

To participate: Please contact the study director, Dr. David Oxborough (d.l.oxborough@ljmu.ac.uk), prior to the Run to participate or to get further details about the study.

Study 5. Heart rate variability, arrhythmias and QT dispersion during the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run

Very little is known about the heart’s electrical activity during ultra-endurance exercise.

At this year’s race we will be undertaking a study to develop our knowledge in this area. We will require a small sample of athletes to wear a small heart monitor for the duration of the race. The monitor will record real-time ECG data from 3 electrodes positioned on the chest.

To participate: The study is under the direction of Dr. David Oxborough. If you require more detailed information or wish to participate in this study, please contact him prior to the Run at d.l.oxborough@ljmu.ac.uk.

Study 6. Ultra-Eye Study

We continue our efforts to learn more about the underlying cause of transient vision loss that occasionally occurs during ultramarathons. In the event that you have some vision issues during the race, we ask that you come to the finish line medical tent and ask for the research team so that we can perform a quick examination. Contact Dr. Marty Hoffman (research@wser.org) for further information on this study.

Study 7. Gastrointestinal distress in runners participating in the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run

This study investigates the frequency and causes of GI symptoms. The more participants we have, the better. In fact, we would like every WSER runner to participate in the study.

Participation includes simply completing a short, on-line, post-race questionnaire. You will receive an e-mail after the race with a link to the questionnaire. It will ask you to provide information about your GI symptoms during this and prior races.

If you have any questions about this study, please contact Dr. Kristin Stuempfle (kstuempf@gettysburg.edu or 717-337-6448) or Dr. Marty Hoffman (research@wser.org or 916-843-9027).

2013 Research Studies

The research studies for the 2013 WSER have just been determined and are now posted on the research page.

Six studies will be taking place that will examine a variety of issues including a couple areas receiving considerable recent media attention – potential cardiac damage from high volume exercise, and potential benefits of different foot strike patterns. To learn more about the first issue, our colleagues from the United Kingdom will be returning to the Run after completing studies here in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Regarding the later, we will expand upon our foot strike analysis at the 2012 WSER, where we saw indication that those who used a forefoot or midfoot pattern had higher blood creatine phosphokinase concentrations at the end of the race compared with heel strikers. Other studies will further examine the extent and causes of gastrointestinal distress during the Run, the frequency and underlying cause of vision cloudiness that sometimes occurs during ultramarathons, and types and frequency of injuries in those training for a 100-mile run.

There will be more to come on how you can participate in the various studies and contribute to our advancement of science.

Marty Hoffman, MD