To describe pacing strategy in a 24-h running race and its interaction with sex, age group, athletes’ performance group, and race edition.
Data from 398 male and 103 female participants of 5 editions were obtained based on a minimum 19.2-h effective-running cutoff. Mean running speed from each hour was normalized to the 24-h mean speed for analyses.
Mean overall performance was 135.6 ± 33.0 km with a mean effective-running time of 22.4 ± 1.3 h. Overall data showed a reverse J-shaped pacing strategy, with a significant reduction in speed from the second-to-last to the last hour. Two-way mixed ANOVAs showed significant interactions between racing time and both athlete performance group (F = 7.01, P < .001, ηp2 = .04) and race edition (F = 3.01, P < .001, ηp2 = .02) but not between racing time and either sex (F = 1.57, P = .058, ηp 2 < .01) or age group (F = 1.25, P = .053, ηp2 = .01). Pearson product–moment correlations showed an inverse moderate association between performance and normalized mean running speed in the first 2 h (r = –.58, P < .001) but not in the last 2 h (r = .03, P = .480).
While the general behavior represents a rough reverse J-shaped pattern, the fastest runners start at lower relative intensities and display a more even pacing strategy than slower runners. The “herd behavior” seems to interfere with pacing strategy across editions, but not sex or age group of runners.
Bossi and Hopker are with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent, Kent, UK. Matta, Lima, Pertence, and de Lima are with the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, Brazil. Millet is with the Human Performance Laboratory, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.