MAYERS, NANCY and BERNARD GUTIN. Physiological characteristics of elite prepubertal cross-country runners. Med. Sci. Sports. Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 172-176, 1979. Eight elite cross-country runners and eight normally active boys 8-11 years of age were studied. The runners were selected on the basis of success in regional and/or national championships. Two of them had the first to third fastest mile run times for their age groups in the U.S. for three years. Tests included submaximal and maximal treadmill runs, an anaerobic capacity bicycle test, a mile run, and various anthropometric measures. A best career mile run (BCM) was used for comparisons within the running group. At submaximal work levels of 5, 6 and 7 mph (134, 161, and 187 meters/min) the values for heart rate (HR) and respiratory exchange ratio (R) were significantly lower for the runners than for the non-runners. The Vo2max of the runners (56.6 ml kg min) was significantly higher than that of the non-runners (46.0 ml kg min). For all subjects combined, mile run time was highly correlated with percent Vo2max and percent max HR at all submaximal running speeds (r > 0.8). The correlation coefficient between mile run time and Vo2max was -0.88. Within the running group, however, BCM was unrelated to Vo2max but was closely related to percent Vo2max at 8 mph (213 meters/min) with r = 0.86, and to anaerobic capacity (r = -0.88). There were no significant differences between the groups in age, height, weight, max HR, and percent body fat. Thus the runners had higher aerobic and anaerobic capacities, and greater utilization of fat as an energy substrate during submaximal work. Within the running group, anaerobic capacity and running economy were closely related to BCM time, whereas Vo2max was not.