Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Masters of Science in Exercise and Sport Studies, Behavioral Emphasis



Major Advisor

Lynda Ransdell, Ph.D.


Shelley Lucus, Ph.D.


Mary Pritchard, Ph.D.


Ultrarunners are people who participate in running events that exceed the 26.2 mile marathon distance. Currently, women make up approximately 20% of this population. To date, no studies have investigated female ultrarunners. The present study sought to describe these women (N = 344) by evaluating motivational factors for participation, goal orientations, training habits, and coach utilization. Motivation was measured using the Motivation for Marathoners Scale (7 point Likert scale). General health orientation (M = 4.71± 1.06) and psychological coping (M = 4.71±1.03) were the two categories most endorsed whereas social motives were least endorsed (M = 3.57± 1.19). Cluster analysis of motivation revealed two significantly different clusters. Cluster 1 exhibited high motivation in all categories and Cluster 2 exhibited lower motivation in all categories. Evaluation of goal orientation was done using the Perception of Success Questionnaire (5 point Likert scale). Women were higher in task-orientation (M = 1.38± .68) than ego- orientation (M = 3.38± 1.01). Cluster analysis grouped the participants into high task/low ego (n= 141), high task/moderate ego (n= 151), and low task/neutral ego (n= 14) clusters. Evaluation of habits and coach utilization was achieved using a researcher designed questionnaire. The key findings for training habits showed that women train an average of 12.49 hours a week and spend 64% of their time training alone. Additionally, women got their training information from their own experience, blogs, websites, and the Ultra List Serve. Over two thirds of the women (80%) do not use a coach because of cost and a perceived lack of necessity. The results of this study provide additional information about characteristics of women ultrarunners, where none previously existed. Additional research is needed to elaborate on the current findings.