On a sweltering day in June of 2015, Magdalena Boulet won her 100-mile debut at the infamous Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Despite a wrong turn at mile 31, the 2008 Olympian bounced back to win the race. And she did it without eating anything!
But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t properly fueled. Magda relied on a liquid fueling plan that gave her all the nutrition she needed from Roctane Energy Drink Mix. We are obviously big fans of Magda here at GU, where she’s our VP of Innovation, Research, & Development and inspires us all to put in more miles and go on more adventures. GU turns 25 this year, so as part of our look back at GU’s history of innovation, we chatted with Magda about her big win in 2015 and her non-traditional fueling strategy.
Magda’s decision to fuel only with Roctane Energy Drink was inspired by the conditions that face all runners at Western States. “As an ultrarunner,” she says, “you need to be able to digest and then absorb food and drink while moving up and down steep mountains.” Long efforts jar the body, slosh the stomach, and decrease blood flow to the gut, so ultrarunners need to ingest energy that can quickly break down and empty from the stomach into the small intestine to fuel muscles and the brain.
“The decision to use Roctane Energy Drink at Western States was based on its simplicity and practical advantages,” says Magda. The Western States course presents unique environmental obstacles — altitude, significant elevation change, temperatures that tip above 100°F. “By running over 100 miles, it was going to cost me less energy to drink rather than eat,” Magda determined. “I asked myself what flavour could I drink hour after hour… the idea of cold ice tea got me excited. So our ‘Summit Tea’ flavour was born. Western States actually served as a field test for its development and production.”
Magda’s plan was to consume 300 calories (a little more than one serving) of Summit Tea Roctane Energy Drink every hour, plus extra water during the race’s warm sections. Before the race, Magda used our local Mount Diablo as a testing ground and practised fueling with the new prototype flavour on her runs up and down the mountain: “It took the complexity out of fueling for a hot and humid ultra by combining energy and hydration into one product.”
“Not all carbs are created equally,” says Magda, “Roctane Energy Drink is made with multiple carbohydrate sources (glucose and fructose), which increases carbohydrate uptake to the muscles. This increases significantly the amount of absorbed calories per hour (up to 400 calories) compared to drinks with a single source of carbohydrate.”
Roctane Energy Drink also contains electrolytes lost in sweat and Branched-Chain Amino Acids(BCAAS). BCAA’s minimize muscle protein breakdown, which is common in training and ultra-endurance events. Roctane Energy Drink replenishes amino acids including taurine, which helps the heart pump more blood per heartbeat, and beta-alanine, which delays muscle fatigue and allows athletes to work more intensely late in a race. Roctane also contains caffeine to boost mental focus and reduce pain perception during hard efforts.
So what did Magda learn from her successful trial of Summit Tea Roctane Drink? “Athletic goals should consider more than just physical training, but also the nutritional support of that training,” says Magda. “Our body adapts to the demands we place on it, and our digestive system is no exception. We can train the receptors in our digestive tract to better absorb energy by practising fueling with the right nutrients, at the right time, in the right amounts.” In short — practice fueling and hydrating during training so your body is prepared on race day.
What was the first solid food she ate after winning Western? Avocado and poached eggs on toast with lots of salt. “It was delicious!”
I love my GU products because they work. They provide me with my hydration, energy, and recovery requirements, and they taste great. GU makes training nutrition easy. I rely on these products to sustain me through a race, and to provide the energy that I need.