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How to Fuel for the Dragon's Back Race
2023 has been a wonderful year of running for me. Turning 50 wasn’t much fun, but being able to chase goals has been awesome.
The Lakeland 100 has always been one of my favourite races and I found myself on the start line again. The Dragon’s Back Race is a real adventure and as with many adventures, you don’t know if you will make it to the end. There was a super quick turn around and if I’m honest I knew I wasn’t fully recovered from The Lakeland 100 as I stood on the Dragon’s Back Race start line in Conwy Castle.
Control the controllables. I know it’s a cliché, but it will serve you well. The forecast for the whole week in Wales was extreme heat so you make sure you cover up, plenty of factor 50 and keep hydrated. My Bucket cap might not make for great race photos, but my head thanked me for it. Black was not the best colour choice though…
Off we go! It’s a slow start as we snake around the castle wall, but that’s fine. It’s a long week and there are no prizes for first out of Conwy.
The days are long for the Dragon’s for the Dragon’s Back Race and the week’s accumulated time for me was just under 67 hours. It is the toughest mountain race in the world. You cover 236 miles and climb 57,087 feet. There was a huge DNF rate too. The constant heat took its toll and only 87 runners completed the full course.
How did I fuel and hydrate my Dragon’s Back Race? I kept it simple. Every day was slightly different, but below is an example from a day when I used Active Root products.
Before I start to run, I would have an electrolyte drink. I’d already had a large breakfast and you could start pretty much when you wanted so no need for extra carbs in the morning.
As soon as I finished each day, I would have another electrolyte drink quickly followed by 2 protein shakes. During the Lakeland 100, I would pop a protein shake in my halfway support bag.
I would start each day with 4 x 500ml soft flasks filled with just electrolytes and at the daily support point, I would drink 500ml of Original Gingers Sports Drink and Coke a Cola for a caffeine boost. I’d fill up my soft flasks at support points and from fast-flowing streams on the course.
I worked on about 60g of carbs per hour. This could be gel mix, energy chews, mini cheddars, salt and vinegar crisps or chocolate bars. I knew roughly what each item had in terms of carbs, so it was super easy to keep the numbers right. I did carry extra fuel for those moments when I needed a boost. There were quite a few!
I had zero gut issues or cramping during the Dragon’s Back Race. No bloating, no sickness, and no food fatigue too. I felt I had enough energy throughout every day. It’s so hard to physically eat enough during a multi-stage race so this was really pleasing.
All in all, I’ve had a great summer of racing. Two epic adventures and two age group wins. I’ll be going back to Lakeland 100 in 2024, but the competition will be stiff in the V50 category. I’d love to do the Dragon’s Back Race again or maybe one of the other Ourea events races. So many adventures to choose from.
My top tips:
Use the products in training. Take in the fuel and hydration right to the end of your run. Avoiding fuel towards the end of your run could slow down the recovery process.
Pick your moments. Sometimes the terrain dictates what I eat. I like to make a large soft flask full of gel mix and I use that on more technical terrain. If the trails are easy or I find myself cooling off in a stream. This happened a lot during the Dragon’s Back Race then I’ll eat energy chews.
I set a 30-minute timer on my watch to remind me to eat. Brain fog will set in. Anything to keep things simple.
Don’t forget those electrolytes! Keeping everything balanced is so important.