Skip to comments.Endurance Running Is In East Africans' Genes
Posted on 12/02/2004 4:44:53 PM PST by blam
Endurance running is in east Africans' genes
10:15 29 November 04
The long-distance running prowess of Ethiopias elite male athletes is partly dictated by their genes.
Researchers have established that such athletes are more likely to have certain variants of four Y chromosome genes compared with other Ethiopians. No one knows what the genes do, or how influential they are, but they are the first to be linked to east Africans outstanding ability for endurance events.
Ethiopian and Kenyan athletes have run 37 of the 40 fastest times recorded over 10,000 metres. Alongside dedication and training, there is no doubt that social and geographic factors, such as having to run long distances to school at high altitudes, contribute to their success.
To find out if genes also play a significant role, Yannis Pitsiladis of the International Centre for East African Running Science at the University of Glasgow in the UK and colleagues studied the Y chromosomes of elite athletes, city dwellers and other non-athletes from the Ethiopian region of Arsi, where many runners originate.
Four gene variants were clearly more common among the athletes, and one was less common. No mutation was unique to the athletes, however, suggesting that it is the combination of certain gene types that makes the difference.
The athletes do show differences from the population as a whole, says Pitsiladis. But they are not so overwhelming to say that this is the reason for their success, he says, and no single gene for endurance running emerged.
The team, whose results will be published in Human Genetics, are hoping to bolster their findings by analysing Kenyan endurance athletes in the same way.
Don't tell Jimmy the Greek!
Fire this guy! It is only fair to Jimmy.
Some may call me racist, but I think if people believe in evolution (within or between species) they should open to the possibility that living in different climates, landscapes, etc., may affect people's ability to perform better on certain function. During the course of time, it may show in their genes as well.
I agree. Lactose tolerance in North Europeans, alcohol intolerance is some Asians and etc.
"living in different climates, landscapes, etc., may affect people's ability to perform better on certain function. During the course of time, it may show in their genes as well."
That sounds kind of LaMarckian to me. The environment doesn't change the genes; it eliminates from the gene pool individuals unsuited to the environment. So, all of the East Africans who couldn't run long distances got et, leaving mostly distance runners. Theoretically. Of course, as the old saying goes, you don't have to be faster than the lion, you just don't be the slowest East African.
I thought Kenya had a high altitude?
so because of that the inhabitants get by with lower oxygen levels, so when they run theyve been adapted to lower oxygen levels for so long that the increase in oxygen is a plus?
any other correlation studies for people who live in high altitudes and run, or ones inwhich the culture has tradition of racing?
other reasons such as peer emulation could apply as well too. (a Kenya runner from the past becomes famous in his country, so alot of younger Kenyans want to be runners too)
Not only do East Africans live in high altitudes, which give them more endurance because they are used to coping with thinner air, they also (generally speaking) have tall, svelte frames, which are perfect for long-distance running. West Africans, on the other hand, have shorter, bulkier frames, and the type of muscle mass that is perfect for short-distance running. The old American stereotype that "blacks are great sprinters but can't run marathons" was based on the fact that most black Americans descend from West Africans and as such tend to excel in short-distance running as opposed to long-distance running. I don't think it is a coincidence that the best short-distance running times have been achieved by West Africans or descendants of West Africans (such as American, Canadian, West Indian or British blacks) while the best long-distance running times have been achieved by Kenyans and Ethiopians.
Blast from the Past.
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