Hydration strategies of runners in the London marathon

Jonathan Williams, Victoria Tzortziou-Brown, Peter Malliaras, Mark Perry, Courtney Kipps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To explore the hydration strategies of marathon runners, their sources of information and knowledge about fluid intake in the marathon, and their understanding of exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH). 

DESIGN: Anonymized questionnaire. 

SETTING: London Marathon. 

PARTICIPANTS: Marathon race participants. 

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Responses regarding planned fluid consumption, volume to be consumed, volume of water and sports drink bottles, and the number of stations from which planning to take a drink. In addition, sources of information about appropriate drinking and understanding of hyponatremia.

RESULTS: In total, 93.1% of the runners had read or been told about drinking fluids on marathon day and 95.8% of competitors had a plan regarding fluid intake. However, 12% planned to drink a volume large enough to put them at higher risk of EAH. Only 21.7% knew the volumes of water and sports drink bottles available on the course; 20.7% were planning to take a drink from all 24 water stations. Only 25.3% planned to drink according to thirst. Although 68.0% of the runners had heard of hyponatremia or low sodium levels, only 35.5% had a basic understanding of its cause and effects. 

CONCLUSIONS: Marathon runners lack knowledge about appropriate fluid intake to prevent hyponatremia on race day. Twelve percent reported drinking strategies that put them at risk of EAH. Effective educational interventions are still necessary to prevent overdrinking during marathons. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-156
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • drinking and fluid strategies in marathons
  • education of runners
  • exercise-associated hyponatremia
  • hydration

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