Elite racers...what is your favorite gear and food? Reply to this posting and let's start a list of what works best for Florida races.
I moved to Florida in August 2011, and had to make some modifications to my normal gear due to the unique weather, flora, and terrain. Here are a few things I had to modify.
- Knee-high soccer socks. Why? Saw Palmettos!! I tried full length tights, but those were too hot. Soccer socks are breathable in the heat, but provide enough protection to get through most of the palmettos without cuts. And most of the palmettos are below the knees, unless you are really off-trail or have an evil race director.
- Electrolyte supplements. I used to take them occasionally, but have learned in Florida to put electrolytes in anything I drink as well as find foods high in salt. Do this right and you won't have any issues with cramping.
- Sport Beans. Sweet taste is easy to tolerate when you are hot, and they are full of electrolytes.
- Rope. A few feet of lightweight synthetic rope is ideal to tow your canoe when the water is too shallow to paddle, or (like the Resolution AR) when the wind/waves make paddling extremely difficult. A lightweight carabiner on each end and you can hook up quickly and tow hands-free.
- Sun protection. Sunscreen fades after you get wet or sweat hard. I prefer compression arm sleeves that are SPF 100+. Your arms are almost always exposed directly to the sun, so keeping those from burning is tough without covering them. And a good wicking material actually makes you cooler than bare arms that are getting hot from direct sunlight. A hat works great for the paddle when you are directly exposed, but are usually not necessary on the trek.
- Anti-chaffing protection. I had luck with chamois butter and Bodyglide before moving to Florida, but racers here make we sweat more and get wet more than anywhere I've been before. Taking the advice of Ian Adamson, one of the fathers of Adventure Racing, I switched to a silicon-based product. It does not come off when wet, and provides better support than anything else I've tried.
- CO2, spare tires, tire slime, tubeless. There are LOTS of thorns that will cause tire punctures in Florida. Run tubeless with fresh Stans if you can, or carry several extra tubes/patch kits/CO2 cartridges or a pump.
Please add to my list, and hopefully we can help out some of the new racers and more experienced racers that are new to Florida.
Thanks for writing this up. We've gradually figuring out a some of these items on your list, but you definitely helped speed things up for us.
Is there an anti-chaffing product you can recommend? I tried Bodyglide this weekend at the Nocatee AR, but I did not feel that worked whatsoever.
I'm going to take your recommendation and move to electrolyte tabs in water. Cleaning the camelbak bladder won't be fun, but if it does wonders for the cramps, I'm all for it. Those pills have worked, but I feel not so significantly as I would like.
Have you found any savory food that is easy to consume/digest during a race?
My teammate and I tried to consume a few hundred calories every hour during the Nocatee 12 hour. We had a selection of Chomps, Gel shots, Cliff, Power bars etc. After the first 5-6 hours consuming all that sweet stuff became a real drag, especially with the heat and any chocolate coated bars.
I'm still switching things up, testing, etc. On the last race, I had cliff bars and Honey Stinger gels, that's all. It seemed to hold up, but the honey got pretty sweet. I'm gonna add in Hammer Heed on my next long training session to see how that holds up.
CEP Compression socks worked very well protecting my shins from the briars. Also, we planned for 280 calories per hour. A combination of 2 Hammer Gels and several Perpetuem Solids worked well. Although the solids get a little tacky, we tried to keep it simple and compact. We also budgeted 28 oz. water per hour. I kept 2 large insulated water bottles on my bike with 2 scoops of Hammer HEED in each. I kept extra HEED in a baggie so I could refill at TA's with fresh water. I always tried to conserve much of my 100 oz. camelback for the trekking leg. My supplements were comprised of 6 Endurolytes, 3 Anti-Fatigue Caps and 2 Endurance Amino Caps hourly (all Hammer products). We finished 7th at 11:26. It wasn't from fatigue, it was that darn canoeing leg that we really struggled with. Next time, we hit that leg early before the wind kicks up. Good Luck All.
Your feelings about eating sweet, processed food products in longer races is shared by many racers.
The consensus I've heard and share is to switch from those products to real food around the 8-12 hour point in a race. The bottom line is you need to keep eating, so pack something you will actually eat. While it may not make the most sense scientifically, it's better than skipping food, slowing down, and potentially bonking.
I prefer things like pre-cooked bacon (open and eat!), spaghettios, cold pizza, and Uncrustables (frozen PB&J sandwiches). These taste great to me even when I'm tired, and have salt, fat, protein, and carbs.
What works for you is a matter of personal preference, just make sure you try it during training to lower the risk your stomach rejects the food late in a race. And don't eat more than ~300 calories at once or you are likely to cramp from too much food.
All I heard was "Race more, eat bacon." I *knew* there was a reason I liked this sport.
Because shorter races are also faster, I like to use the sweeter, "energy food" products in them. I typically run a watch on a 30 minute timer, and take a gu or other gel (I really like Carb-Boom) every time it goes off. If I am trying to go fast "real" food does not sit very well.
The only "long" race I've done (> 12 hours) was the Sea to Sea in February. I stuck with the 2-gel / hour plan and tried to augment it with a solid powerbar or cliff bar per hour. Results were mixed. That plan was probably more calories than I needed for the amount of energy I was actually expending and I wound up falling behind the plan as the race wore on. However, I never bonked... which is why i think the plan called for too many calories. I will *definitely* have a lot more real food in the mix on my next long race. After 20 or so, energy bars became *really* unappealing to me. In fact, I still find that I am choking them down when I try to use them now...
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