The Mexican Tarahumara are accustomed to running ultra-distance races. No data exist on the acute physiological changes following ultra-distance running and physiological-biomarker associations in this population. Thus, we aimed to investigate the acute impact (≤ 24 h) on functional and biochemical changes of the cardiac muscle and biochemical changes associated with kidney function following a 63-km ultra-distance race with an altitude difference of 1800 m in Mexican Tarahumara athletes.
Ten Tarahumara male athletes (mean ± SD age = 29.9 ± 6.6 years) volunteered to participate in the study. VO2max was assessed by a sub-maximal step test individually calibrated combining heart rate and accelerometry. Standard transthoracic echocardiography methodology and venipuncture blood tests were carried out at four time points: pre-race, immediately post-race, 6 h, and 24 h post-race.
Estimated mean VO2max was 54.5 (± 8.8) mL O2 min−1 kg−1 and average physiological activity intensity was 746 (± 143) J min−1 kg −1 (~ 11.5 METs). When compared to pre-race values, significant changes in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and LV end-diastolic volume (− 15%, p < 0.001 for both parameters), cardiac output (39%, p < 0.001), and maximal longitudinal velocity (− 13%, p < 0.009) were seen post-race with LVEF also being decreased at < 6 h post-race (− 8%, p < 0.014). Plasma biomarkers mid-regional pro-atrial natriuretic peptide, copeptin-ultra sensitive, and high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T remained significantly elevated at 24 h post-race, and the two latter were inversely associated with LVEF (p < 0.04). Kidney dysfunction was indicated by increased post-race copeptin-ultra sensitive.
The athletes participating in this study had acute transient cardiac dysfunction as assessed by echocardiography but elevated cardiac and kidney biomarkers at 24 h following a 63-km race with extreme altitude variation.