I appreciate research that takes information from events or the training logs of elite athletes. This approach comes from a practical viewpoint and can tell us what the best athletes are actually doing. This study looked at "pacing among the most successful runners in the 161-km Western States Endurance Run (WSER) to determine if variations in segmental speed relate to performance". Essentially they tested the well-known advice that the best runners are the ones that slow down the least.
The study arrived at the conclusion that:
Mountain trail running is characterized by wide variations in speed, but the fastest times are achieved when speed fluctuations are limited. This is generally accomplished by the winners remaining relatively close behind the lead runners before taking the lead in the middle half of the race, and then avoiding slowing as much as the other top runners in the latter race stages.
PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - pacing is vital for ultra-marathon performance and slowing down the least is what wins races.
This is another paper based on real-world experience, this time looking at the race diet and GI symptoms of runners in a 100 mile race. Nausea and GI issues are the greatest issue in completing an ultra-marathon so it is an important aspect of racing to get right. I've mentioned studies in the past about training the gut (a paper on a two-week protocol showed benefits of gut training) and this is unknown in the study, but it does look at what athletes consumed and their related GI issues.
The findings showed that:
Lower fluid and fat intake rates were evident in those developing GI distress before the onset of symptoms
A race diet with higher percentage fat and higher intake rates of fat and fluid may protect ultramarathoners from GI distress.
PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - including some fat and making sure you are adequately hydrated could reduce GI issues in an ultra.
Similar to the previous study mentioned above, this study looked at the food and fluid intakes of runners in an ultra-marathon, but this time investigated "if food and fluid intake is related to completion of a 161-km ultramarathon". The conclusions show that food and fluid intake is an important consideration in finishing an ultra, in particular:
Kilocalorie, fat, fluid, and sodium consumption rates during segment 1 (first 48 km) were significantly greater in finishers than in non-finishers.
Completion of this 161-km race was related to greater fuel, fluid, and sodium consumption rates.
PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - eating and drinking enough is vital to ensure ultra-marathon performance.