Background: The biggest ski mountaineering race of the West Alps Patrouille des Glaciers (PdG) is characterized by a short course from Arolla-Verbier and a classic distance from Zermatt-Arolla-Verbier. In accordance with general findings from endurance sports e.g., running where the average speed in half marathon is lower compared to marathon these findings should also be valid for PdG. This yields to the aim of the study to analyze potential differences between the short versus the long course at PdG.
Materials and methods: All participants of PdG 2018 were analyzed yielding to a total of 207 Patrols (principally three alpinists) from race one from Zermatt-Arolla- Verbier, 344 patrols from race two Zermatt-Arolla-Verbier as well as 374 patrols from race one of the short distance Arolla-Verbier and 375 of race two Arolla-Verbier with an average age in female of 39.1 ± 10.2 years and male 41.4 ± 10.9. Average speed was calculated with the concept of performance km for the different parts of the short and the long race. Furthermore, significance of differences between average speed of the short and the long race was analyzed with two-sided t-tests.
Results: In total, average speed was significantly higher in the original race compared to the short course. Only the first part just after the start was faster in the short race Arolla-Verbier compared to the original race Zermatt- Arolla-Verbier.
Discussion: These findings are somehow contra intuitive but might be explained by the different samples of participants at the short versus the long race. At the long race mainly highly trained alpinists take part whereas the short races more often attract recreational alpinists. Beside that gender differences are to mention: Only thirteen female participants absolved the original course (less than 0.01 percent) whereas in the Arolla-Verbier nearly one fourth were female (0.24 percent) implying the large physical challenge in the original course mainly absolved by men.