2019 brought much more typical conditions compared to last year’s challenges of being the hottest day of the year combined with smoke.
The 2019 Ridge Run greeted runners with mild temperatures, clear skies and calm winds. The day before the race, there had been some rain so there were some damp and slightly greasy sections on the first part of the course before the day waxed and the sun had a chance dry things thoroughly.
The most excitement was on the women’s side as two runners became the second and third women ever to finish under 4 hours. They were quite impressive as they both broke the women’s course record previously held by world class trail and ultra distance runner Nikki Kimball. Results are here.
The women’s race was close and the final outcome came down to some differences in route choices in the final minutes of the race. A similar drama played out in 2012. At this point in the history of the race, there is very little opportunity to make different route choices. But there still are multiple routes down from the top of the M down to finish line in the final portion of the race. The routes differ in distance, steepness and footing. Runners that have the luxury of training on the course get their personal preferences dialed in well before race day.
Given last years disaster for me with cramping issues, I had my trepidations going into this year. So when my right calf muscle started to clench up when slogging the steep climbs between Ross Pass and Bridger Bowl it felt like deja vu all over again. Instead of freaking out and thinking oh no not this again. This year, I squeezed a couple drops of peppermint essential oil stored in a tiny plastic dropper bottle into my mouth and it did the trick. Along with focusing on keeping my calves relaxed by either side stepping or duck walking up the steeps, I experienced no more problems. Last year, I chewed on fresh ginger and that did not work. What is the ultimate cause of cramps and what works to mitigate them, is still a bit of a mystery. Just in case, I also brought along a tiny zip lock bag of powdered ginger this year, but never used it.
Race Fueling Details
After decades of doing multi hour trail events similar to and longer than the Ridge Run, I have had the chance to experiment with many different fueling strategies and products. In case anyone is interested, here is what I consumed during the 2019 Ridge Run. It is a snapshot of what of what works for me at this point in time and represents the culmination of a lot of trial and error and years of experience.
I started the race with the following:
- 1 24oz water bottle premixed with 200 calories of Tail Wind.
- 1 Small Flask containing 400 calories of Tail Wind powder.
- 2 Packages of Clif Bloks
- 4 Tiny Zip Lock Bags Each Containing 1 Capsule Each of: Carnosine, Citruline, Choline, Esential Aminos, ECap, MCT Oil. One of the Zip Lock Bags in addition to the above also contained B Vitamin, HMB and coQ10.
At each major aid station (Ross Pass, Bridger Bowl, Baldy) I refilled my 24oz bottle with water. At the first two aid stations, Ross Pass and Bridger Bowl I emptied half the contents of my flask containing the Tail Wind powder into the water bottle. This is a tricky process as it requires the cooperation of the aid station volunteers to fill the bottle half way, add the Tail Wind powder and then finish filling the bottle with water. This year went smoothly, but previous years have seen some messes from overfilling, spills and the such. Yes, there was Tail Wind on the course, but I would rather know exactly what I am getting and at what concentration it is mixed at than leaving it to chance and the whims of whomever mixed it. At the last aid station, I had no more Tail Wind so just filled my bottle with water.
Total calories of Tail Wind consumed during the race was 600. Total water consumption was 96oz.
During the race, I would occasionally grab a Clif Blok and suck on that till it dissolved. During the race, I finished off a little more than 1 pack. 7 individual Bloks for a total of 233 calories. At the end of the race, I had 5 individual Bloks left over, uneaten.
The little zip lock bags of amino acids and supplements amount to about 20 calories each for a total of 80 calories.
Opening up the zip lock bags removing the capsules and swallowing them is a bit tricky. Especially when having hands occupied by poles and a water bottle to wash them down. Eating them when walking slow up a hill works best. The first pack got consumed climbing up to Sacajawea. Second pack with the extra B vitamins climbing up out of Ross Pass. Third pack right before Bridger Bowl and the fourth pack on a climb somewhere after Saddle Peak but before Baldy.
These various amino acids and supplements don’t amount to much in the way of calories, but they help keep neurotransmitter levels up and mitigate tissue damage. This wards off the sense of fatigue and pain (mental, emotional and physical). They keep my mood up and make the race feel fun instead of a grind.
Total Calories Consumed: 913
Given my finish time, this is approximately 200 Calories per hour which is the sweet spot between not enough and bonking versus too much and stomach upset.
A very minimalist lightweight vest with several front pockets makes grabbing fuel and essential odds and ends very quick and easy. I modified this one with a second sternum strap to keep it from flopping around when running.
A waist belt that carries a 24oz bottle in a horizontal has always worked well for me being comfortable and stable.