An Experiment of Ten
By Steve Matsuda
Can the Kiehl’s Badwater Ultramarathon be used to get more information on managing heat and optimizing training and survival strategies? Ten German runners are part of an experiment at this year’s race in hopes of finding some answers. The participants, all seasoned ultrarunners with experience in desert races, will go through physiological and psychological tests, in addition to competing in the race.
Blood tests and urine samples, along with memory and stress tests will be administered to each runner at the start, half-marathon, each of the five marathon points along the course and at the finish.
The results of these tests will measure brain functionality and the impact of the race on muscles, liver, heart and kidneys. Performing these tests over the course of the race will measure the impacts of extended exertion. Sample collections for the first day were successfully obtained from all runners.
Dr Ralph Beneke is coordinating the tests. Two of the other doctors responsible for the experiment, Dr. Holger Finkelnagel and Dr Michael Doppelmayr, are also running the race. Each has completed the race twice before.
Ultimately, results of this testing may identify runners who are pre-disposed to succeed in races like Badwater or to identify training regimes that could improve race performance.