A four-day, 894-kilometre science experiment


As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at www.outsideonline.com/sweatscience. Check out my bestselling new book on the science of endurance, ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, published in February 2018 with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.

- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)


Check out this Canadian Geographic article on a neat effort to learn more about the science of multi-day endurance running. It’s about a race called Blaze: Niagara Escarpment Race, a four-day, 894-kilometre relay from Tobermory to Queenston Heights. What’s unique is that the participants were extensively tested before and after the race — and even stopped to give frequent urine samples DURING the race!

For the past two months, the 20 elite endurance runners (10 members per co-ed team) participating have kept meticulous records of their training routines and diets. Elaborate pre- and post-race assessments of such data as heart rate, aerobic capacity, carbon dioxide production and muscle damage promise to reveal a host of escarpment-centric revelations, from the carbon footprint left by the runners and the number of heart beats and litres of blood pumped during the run to the caloric cost and the determinants of success, including age, nutrition and training.

The results of the study will eventually be posted at AdventureScience.ca and submitted to peer-reviewed journals. Should make for some interesting reading!