1st Student's Major


1st Student's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Students' Professional Biography

Amy Harris, B.S., is from St.Paul, MN. She recently earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Psychology. She will begin pursuing a Master’s in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Minnesota State University, Mankato in Fall 2012. She plans to obtain her certification from the Association of Applied Sport Psychology to become a Certified Consultant in order to consult with athletes of various sports.

Mentor's Name

Cindra Kamphoff

Mentor's Email Address


Mentor's Department

Human Performance

Mentor's College

Allied Health and Nursing

Other Mentors

Suzannah Armentrout


An ultramarathon extends beyond the traditional 26.2-mile marathon (Tharion, Strowman, & Rauch, 1988) and includes 50 kilometers (31 miles), 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) and 135 miles. Participants must train for substantial periods of time and oftentimes in rough off-road terrain while dealing with dramatic changes in elevation and weather. Despite these challenges, participation rates are increasing; yet, most of these participants are men. For instance, for every woman participant, five men participated in the Western States 100 (Soderland, 2011). Very few researchers have examined the motives to participate in this unique sport or investigated the gender barriers of ultramarathons. This qualitative study was conducted to further explore and understand what motivates women to run ultramarathons and the gender barriers that may prevent or make it difficult for them to participate in ultramarathons. Telephone interviews were conducted with fifteen women who completed at least one ultramarathon. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were read in-depth and organized into common themes across all interviews using Creswell’s (2000) framework. Gender barriers in ultramarathons were identified as: 1) child-care and household responsibilities, 2) job-related obstacles, 3) lack of support, and 4) safety concerns. To overcome gender barriers, these women commonly stated they used the following as motivation to continue ultramarathoning: 1) the ultra-running community, 2) the challenge of the ultra, 3) the scenic nature of the ultramarathon, and 4) personal growth. Specific results and implications of our findings will be discussed in this paper.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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