The aim of study was to examine the effects of the world’s most challenging mountain ultramarathon (Tor des Géants [TdG]) on running mechanics. Mechanical measurements were undertaken in male runners (n = 16) and a control group (n = 8) before (PRE), during (MID), and after (POST) the TdG. Contact (tc) and aerial (ta) times, step frequency (f), and running velocity (v) were sampled. Spring-mass parameters of peak vertical ground-reaction force (Fmax), vertical downward displacement of the center of mass (Δz), leg-length change (ΔL), and vertical (kvert) and leg (kleg) stiffness were computed. Significant decreases were observed in runners between PRE and MID for ta (P < .001), Fmax (P < .001), Δz (P < .05), and kleg (P < .01). In contrast, f significantly increased (P < .05) between PRE and MID-TdG. No further changes were observed at POST for any of those variables, with the exception of kleg, which went back to PRE. During the TdG, experienced runners modified their running pattern and spring-mass behavior mainly during the first half. The current results suggest that these mechanical changes aim at minimizing the pain occurring in lower limbs mainly during the eccentric phases. One cannot rule out that this switch to a “safer” technique may also aim to anticipate further damages.
Degache and Guex are with the School of Health Sciences, University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland, Lausanne, Switzerland. Morin is with the Laboratory of Human Motricity, Education Sport and Health (LAMHESS), University of Nice, Nice, France. Oehen and G.P. Millet are with the Dept of Physiology, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland. Giardini is with Aosta Hospital, Aosta, Italy. Schena is with CeRiSM, Research Center on Sport Mountain and Health, University of Verona, Rovereto, Italy. G.Y. Millet is with the Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.