Using a mobile MRI unit, researchers followed runners for two months along a 4,500-kilometer course to study how their bodies responded to the high-stress conditions of an ultra-long-distance race, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"Due to the exceptional setting of this study, we could acquire huge amounts of unique data regarding how endurance running affects the body's muscle and body fat," said Uwe Schütz, M.D., a specialist in orthopedics and trauma surgery in the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at the University Hospital of Ulm in Germany. "Much of what we have learned so far can also be applied to the average runner."

The TransEurope-FootRace 2009 took place from April 19 to June 21, 2009. It started in southern Italy and traversed approximately 4,488 kilometers to the North Cape in Norway. Forty-four of the runners (66 percent) agreed to participate in the study.

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