European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 112, Issue 5, pp 1839–1848 | Cite as

Oxidative stress, inflammation, and muscle soreness in an 894-km relay trail run

  • David S. Rowlands
  • E. Pearce
  • A. Aboud
  • J. B. Gillen
  • M. J. Gibala
  • S. Donato
  • J. M. Waddington
  • J. G. Green
  • M. A. Tarnopolsky
Original Article


We describe the effects of multi-day relay trail running on muscle soreness and damage, and systemic immune, inflammatory, and oxidative responses. 16 male and 4 female athletes ran 894 km in 47 stages over 95 h, with mean (SD) 6.4 (1.0) stages per athlete and 19.0 (1.7) km per stage. We observed post–pre run increases in serum creatine kinase (qualified effect size extremely large, p = 0.002), IL-6 (extremely large, p < 0.001), urinary 8–isoprostane/creatinine (extremely large, p = 0.04), TNF-α (large, p = 0.002), leukocyte count (very large, p < 0.0001) and neutrophil fraction (very large, p < 0.001); and reductions in hemoglobin (moderate, p < 0.001), hematocrit (moderate, p < 0.001), and lymphocyte fraction (trivial, p < 0.001). An increase in ORAC total antioxidant capacity (TAC, small, p = 0.3) and decrease in urinary 8-OHdG/creatinine (small, p = 0.1) were not statistically significant. During the run, muscle soreness was most frequent in the quadriceps. The threshold for muscle pain (pain-pressure algometry) in the vastus lateralis and gastrocnemius was lower post-run (small, p = 0.04 and 0.03). Average running speed was correlated with algometer pain and leukocyte count (large, r = 0.52), and TAC was correlated with IL-6 (very large, r = 0.76) and 8-isoprostane/creatinine (very large, r = −0.72). Multi-day stage-racing increases inflammation, lipid peroxidation, muscle damage and soreness without oxidative DNA damage. High TAC is associated with reduced exercise-induced lipid peroxidation, but is not related to immune response or muscle damage.


TNF-α IL-6 ORAC 8-isoprostane 8-OHdG DOMS 



Nestle/Powerbar donated bars, drinks and clothing. We would like to thank all the volunteers who made the race and study possible with a special thanks to Allyson Donato, Donald and Rosemary Chew, Mark Tamminga, Joany Verschuuren, the VanDorp family, Stacie Smith, Tracey McLaughlin, Barb Campbell, Richard Ehrlich, and Imperial Oil Ltd. for their gracious assistance with the relay logistics.

Conflict of interest

Life Science Nutritionals contributed financially toward costs associated with the race (transport, food, supplies). The analytical costs were funded from a grant from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • David S. Rowlands
    • 1
  • E. Pearce
    • 2
  • A. Aboud
    • 2
  • J. B. Gillen
    • 3
  • M. J. Gibala
    • 3
  • S. Donato
    • 4
  • J. M. Waddington
    • 5
  • J. G. Green
    • 1
  • M. A. Tarnopolsky
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Sport and ExerciseMassey UniversityWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics and MedicineMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.KinesiologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  4. 4.Adventure ScienceCalgaryCanada
  5. 5.McMaster Centre for Climate ChangeMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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