Adventure racing is an ultra-endurance activity that imposes a unique multifaceted stress on the human body. The purpose of this field study was to examine the physiological responses to a 5-day adventure race.
Eight competitors, two teams (1 female each) in the 2012 GODZone adventure race volunteered. Competitors trekked, cycled and paddled ∼326 km in ∼116 hours. Continuous glucose was measured the day before and throughout. Body mass, urinary solutes, and blood pressure and heart rate during resting, standing, and repeated squat-stand conditions, were assessed pre and post.
Despite no changes in mean blood glucose levels, there was increased glycemic variability (Standard deviation glucose; Pre: 0.5 ± 0.1 vs Race: 1.0 ± 0.2 mmol/L, p = 0.02) and periods of hypoglycemia (i.e., Min glucose Pre: 4.1 ± 0.3 vs Race: 3.6 ± 0.5 mmol/L, p = 0.05) during the race. After the race, the blood pressure during resting, standing and squat-stand conditions was significantly lower, by 14 ± 14 mmHg, 16 ± 15 mmHg and 18 ± 15 mmHg (all p < 0.05), respectively, with no change in heart rate. During five-days of adventure racing there is increased glycemic variability and more frequent periods of low blood glucose levels. Additionally, following the race pronounced hypotension is observed in competitors.
We observed more frequent glucose fluctuations, lower glucose levels and significant perturbations in blood pressure control. Further research is warranted to examine the long-term impact of adventure racing on metabolic and cardiovascular function.