Making Your Own Energy Gels- Simpler Recipe

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I make my own gels and use them for any event/ training run where I’m likely to use 4 gels or more. This is because each flask holds about 3 gels. For any shorter event I use commercial gels and I particularly like the Accel Gels from Advantage 1 which have a bit of protein in them.



I got to wondering recently if I could simplify my gel recipe even further (here’s the previous post). Have you seen that cookbook ‘4 Ingredients‘? They take a bunch of stuff that is often already pre made, then combine it to produce something that you might potentially eat. My sister quite rightly calls it ‘food assembly for bogans’.

But I don’t care about that- I care about making the best possible gel mix in the fastest possible time, and I’ve discovered something worth sharing.

Cottee’s seem to be switching all of their cordials to a double strength version, and they were on special at my local shop so I bought a couple of flavours to sample, Coola and Raspberry. I need to tell you- Coola flavour is my favourite ever cordial flavour, it’s like a little bit of my childhood.


This means I can delete 3 ingredients from my previous recipe- brown sugar, honey and water and substitute for cordial, but how much cordial?

240ml of cordial contains 240x 0.67 = 160.8 g of sugar
so in 32ml we would have 9.12g of sugar


serving size 32ml
simple carbs 9.12g
Complex Carbs 16.8g
Total Carbs 26g
total Kj 280+150= 430kj

which is a little higher than the last recipe, you can compare with commercial gels here

Compare this with
Endura- 26g carbs, 444kj
Gu- 20-25g carbs, 420kj
Torq- 29g carbs, 468kj

here’s the recipe-

Using double strength Cottees Coola cordial

280g maltodextrin
1/4 teaspoon salt
50ml lime juice
240ml of cordial

Yes it really is as simple as mixing it all together in a big bowl, working the lumps out and then putting it in the flasks, which then go straight in the freezer in a sandwich bag. Easy.

4 Ingredients…. is this a cooincidence? I left in the lime juice because it may be acting as a preservative, you can probably leave it out if you fancy living dangerously.

Anyway it tastes great, and doesn’t look like baby poo so I’m happy.

Training Run Recommendations

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I’m learning as I go here, but as some of these runs are in remote areas I’d like you to have a look at these recommendations. Really we are just a bunch of friends going for a run together, I don’t take any responsibility for things that happen. These items might ensure that things don’t happen to you!

Print your own maps
Look over the maps before you run to see the tricky bits
Bring enough water + a bit extra
Bring enough food + a bit extra
Include some basic first aid stuff like compeeds, snake bandage and aspirin
Take your phone. Stick it in a ziplock sandwich bag if you need to keep it waterproof
Don’t leave anyone alone. This only really applies to the 2 people at the back, but I really don’t want anyone left by themselves. Anyone in between groups is probably ok

Optional- Put my number in your phone 04111 7 9999 or have an emergency plan, like you mate, spouse etc.


Also I now keep a bag of stuff in the car for when I finish. Thanks to other runners I now have a lot of things that make my trip home much more comfortable, and a bit less smelly
Spare shirt
Sports drink
Couple of pieces of fruit
Protein powder
Baby wipes
2 plastic bags. One for wet clothes, one for shoes


You Might be a Runner if- Part 2

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Thanks to some fabulous suggestions from others, we’re having a second bite at this one

You might be a runner if

1. You know what model of Garmin a friend uses by the shape of the white patch on their arm
2. You have a white, Garmin shaped patch on your arm
3. You tell your pedicurist ” just paint that skin to make it LOOK like a toe-nail”
4. You only wear toenail polish to cover up the fact that you have permanent blood blisters under your nails or just no toenails
5. You organise your holidays around a run you want to do
6. You know what your physio did on the weekend. Any weekend.
7. You spend more money on running shoes & running accessories than fashion
8. Your wear socks to your physio so he wont see the blisters when you’re meant to be RICE-ing
9. When you’re out injured you can’t tell if you’re stressed about not running or running clears your normal stresses
10. You only go to the doctor when whatever is up interferes with your running
11. Your friends no longer invite you out on Friday nights
12. You go to a friends house for dinner, eat everything in their kitchen and fall asleep at the table
13. After repeated weekends of chatting with people for 3+ hours you know how much their genitals chafe but not their names


Thanks to (in no particular order) Kate McElligott, Naomi Eastment, Ben Rollins, Adam Darwin, Alison Thomas, Ngaire Anna, Sara Jaques, Rocco Smit and Leigh Reynolds

Six Foot Track 2013 Race Report

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*all images used without permission from NRG Facebook page. If you’d like your name on these or to have them removed please contact

For some reason I’d had barely any contact with other human beings in the week leading up to Six Foot Track- I work from home and things seemed to conspire to keep me inside.  Except for Monday, when I walked to school with my son and a neighbours kid who complained about being sick. So of course by Thursday I had a scratchy throat that was turning ugly. I had a bit of a panic when I realised I could be contagious- I was only mildly sick so still racing but I was sharing a room with Gavin Pilz and didn’t want to infect anyone unnecessarily. Gavin was a terrific room mate and took the top bunk, even though it was ‘his’ room.

Wave allocations
I think the qualifying standard definitely went up due to natural progression and last years cancellation. In 2012 I used a 3:39 Coastal Classic and scraped into Wave 3. This year I used a slightly better 3:34 in the same race and was dumped in Wave 4. Another runner with a very similar (~5 minutes difference) North Face 100 time used that as her qualifier and got Wave 3 and a race number 250 places lower than me (I was number 777). What does this all mean? Choose your qualifier carefully! I was pretty happy to be in Wave 4, because I felt that it would help me to not blow up in the race to the river.

Wave 1 Start

Wave 1 Start

Race Day
Up at 5am and thanking Thor that Randy had brought his coffee machine. I’d made last minute changes to my gear list, deciding to wear the Speedcross shoes, and to take a hat. The Speedcross have massive lugs on them, including one on the front of the shoe which does nothing but catch on rocks and roots, plunging you into the scenery. So I got out my utility knife and cut those off, but also took my gloves in case of a spill.

Hanging around at the start line was great, I felt absolutely no stress because I had cancelled any thoughts about running fast. My man flu had not become worse overnight, so I figured I’d just cruise and see what happened. I usually try to pick a few people who are better runners than me to try to keep up with, but Steve Bruggeman was in another wave, Adam Darwin was running with a brace on his foot, and Chris Dawe had come good in the last few weeks- he’d improved so much it was scary.

Joe Hedges getting some ridiculous fun

Joe Hedges having some ridiculous fun

Off we go in the Wave 4 start and I settled in behind Chris Dawe for the trip down Nellie’s Glen. And yes I do mean trip. Despite the very manly spikes on the bottom of my shoes, I slipped and got whacked in my bum with a piece of railway sleeper at a full 75kg of force. I didn’t lose any places however I can still feel it 3 days later. I was far from the only one- Blathnaid lost some bark, and Damian managed to roll down 4 stairs in spectacular fashion. I’m sure there were more. On to the single track and Chris was having a great time demolishing the distance, until he stepped awkwardly and busted an ankle. He went very quiet after that, but he was probably wondering if he could get away with murdering me when I said ‘I’ve got really strong ankles, that would never happen to me’. As soon as the single track widened to fire trail we could see Robyn Bruin’s yellow shirt shoot off into the distance, I figured anyone who tried to stay with her would be broken pretty quickly. Keeping to my non competitive strategy I let Chris go and concentrated on running within my limits and having fun. Just before Megalong Valley rd, I spotted Adam Darwin and had a brief chat. he’d started in Wave 3, so I was surprised to catch up so quickly, but as you’ll see he’s not one to give in easily. A couple of spectators shouted ‘come on Adam’ as we crossed the road, and he corrected them ‘don’t you mean ‘Adam’s?’

A Clutch of Adams

An (ankle) Brace of Adams

Down to the river was fairly uneventful, and true to predictions, the river was quite high. Very happy with the performance of my gaiters, they kept the rocks out so I had a snack, drink and kept on. I spent a bit of time eating my Growling Dog bar, and headed up the hill to Mini Mini Saddle. I lost a lot of places here (and expected to) as I’m still trying to figure out what makes me so slow up hills. Probably the same thing that stopped me breaking my pelvis on Nellie’s (my fat arse) but anyhow……

The caffeine started to kick in, and a few people around me were looknig a bit second hand, so I started giving unsolicited advice down to Allum Creek ‘it’s halfway!’ (no it’s not, but it is close), ‘there might be a small hill’ (no, there isn’t), ‘hide the drugs!’ when a car with flashing lights came towards us so it’s little wonder I was running by myself until we hit the Pluviometer. Kathy Madden overtook me here leading a bunch of very determined looking people- they disappeared up the hill in a flash leaving me to ponder why I was doing this. At the top of Pluvi I was pleasantly surprised to find that my legs felt fine. We’d done most of the climbing and because of my extremely conservative approach, I felt like we’d done about 15km. Time to put the hammer down. Or at least wheeze, cough, and carry on.

Doug Richardson looks like he's enjoying himself!

Doug Richardson looks like he’s enjoying himself!

Black Range road is the trickiest part of the course, your race can be won or lost here. It’s so easy to let your mind allow you to slow down. It’s not flat. It does rise, but most of the ‘hills’ are runnable. If you keep up the pressure you’ll be rewarded with a much better time. Here I caught up with Jaci Richards (who I mentioned above in the discussion about qualifiers). Did I also mention that her 16:30 TNF100 time was a 9 HOUR pb from the year before? She’s an amazing and inspiring athlete. After setting off again (I was starting to come good, I knew I would make the finish) I came across Leah Evans who trained with us last year for TNF100. Leah grumbled that she was having a hard time, so in my extremely sympathetic mood I yelled out ‘harden up, Princess!’ and she glared at me and reminded me that she had started in the wave behind me, and thus was currently beating me. Bugger, that took the wind out of my sails- just for that you will be Princess Leah forever more…….. yes I totally deserved it.

At least my offensiveness made her run again, and we diced for a few km. Unless I was hallucinating, there was a big fat man in a Wonder Woman costume in this section. If I hadn’t stopped to tell him the fashion police were on their way to arrest him I may have seem Adam Darwin at the end. Oh well. At some point there was another bunch of spectators with an NRG sign at the TOP of a hill. All my tiny mind could think was ‘not going to get any good action shot of me walking’. Soon after we got to Caves Rd and another bunch of spectators where Adam Darwin’s wife Nicola yelled ‘my husband is in front of you!’ Don’t worry Nic- I expected him to beat me, but I wasn’t going to make it easy for ol’ gimpy leg. I didn’t want to have to tell people I was beaten by a man with a broken leg. Or sprained ankle, whatever. I didn’t have the energy to yell back ‘he needs to beat me by more than 10 minutes to get a better time than me’

Katherine and Jane always have a smile ready!

Katherine and Jane always have a smile ready!

I was just about spent by Binda Cabins, but of course just after that we dive off into the bush again for some glorious downhill, and my shoes just munched up the terrain. I picked up a few places but by the time we hit the steep single track around the edge of the valley the 2 people in front wouldn’t let me get past. Through the finish chute in race time of 6:06:57, my start time was 25 minutes earlier so 5:41:57 and for some reason the timing mats at the start weren’t at the start line leading to a net time of 5:41:46. Am I happy? Hell yes. In 2011 I gave it everything I had and got 6:15, Saturday was about 80% effort which was all I had on the day.

Outstanding efforts
Steve Bruggeman who has had a very difficult time in training but pulled out a 5:24 for his 17th (you read that right!) Six Foot. You’re not that old Steve!
Chris Dawe who finished despite being in incredible pain. The look on his face at the end tells the story.
Adam Darwin with his ‘elephant man’ ankle. I would have bet money he wasn’t going to race only 2 weeks ago. What an amazing performance.
Paul Blamire who must have been in the toilet when the gun went off as it took him 34 seconds to cross the start line, and a unusual 1:47 down to Cox’s. But then he strapped on the turbo and managed a sub 5:30 time. Impressive.
Leigh Reynolds, winner of the ‘golden ticket’ race entry. Leigh has made so much progress in recent months it’s like he’s decided to chase down Sam. That sort of improvement does not come without pain, you masochist. Classy guy, classy result.
Simon Rogers, our fearless leader, who overcame worse man flu than me to complete the race. You earned those beers!
But Rosie Mills takes the prize for running the last 30km with a suspected broken neck, after falling over the feet of an overtaking runner. I think that even beats this story here. Oh, and in other news Sam Walker picked up a flying second place behind Tony Fattorini, Michelle McAdam a blinding 3rd female, and our first 6 ladies picked up the team award. Wow! I’ve spent a fair bit of time trying to keep up with these women, and that award couldn’t go to a nicer bunch.

Yes buddy, that’s exactly how much it hurts


Rosie Mills manages to smile- we hope she’s ok. Finishing with Jacqui

Thank you to the spectators, lovely to see some of our broken comrades and even some who never intended to race. A very sophisticated looking Tanya Baluk would have taken the fashion prize (I swear I did once wear a collared shirt, BR, Before Running). Lovely sunny conditions at Caves House made us all relax, until they ran out of beer. Then in the bus on the way home the driver made us stew in our own filth for a while before turning on the aircon. Perhaps he likes ‘eau de trailrunner’.

Dinner afterwards is always a highlight. At one stage I was forced to stand at the bar and have vodka shots to adjust my outlook, but unsurprisingly it became easier to ignore the pain after that. I find it hard to believe that a venue can’t produce the right amount of dinners when they’ve had numbers and orders for a MONTH. That ‘oops’ is kind of hard to explain. Randy put a huge amount of effort in organising it all, how could they stuff it up so badly? Enough said about that.

What went right
Making that blog post about the gear I was taking turned out to be a great idea. I almost didn’t submit it because it started out as just a list of things for me to remember. However just about everybody I met on the whole weekend had read it. I was stopped in the street to discuss, people thanked me for reminding them to bring chips, others cursed me for reminding them how much they’d forgotten!
My shoes were great, they have a relatively small toe box which means my little toes get bashed around, but not so much during the race. Win.
Wearing gaiters- this meant I could cross the rivers and creeks without little rocks in my shoes. Big win.

What went wrong
To the guy who read my previous post and knew I would be carrying extra salt tablets- I’m really happy that I was able to give some out during the race, but you have to stick them in your mouth before they will work!
Nutrition- I probably did half the race on snakes and sports drink. If I wanted a more competitive time, I probably should have gone more towards gels etc.
Racing- it’s probably better that I did not know that Adam Darwin was 30 seconds in front, or Chris Dawe 1 min 20s, or others about 3 minutes in front. Let’s have a proper race next year when we’re all of the injured list!
I was carrying two flasks of home made gel. The second one was in a zip lock bag and thus waterproof. I should have kept the first one out of the Cox’s River, because well, for the next few days I had to stay close to a toilet.

If you want to see how the winners race went, have a look at Tony Fattorini’s blog here

Memorable quotes
Joe Hedges ‘that was f@cking ridiculous’
Sam Walker ‘my legs have never been that sore’*
*stolen from a FaceBook post, so may not be actually true. I also considered writing that in New Zealand dialect, but I’m fairly sure that he can run faster than me.
Tony Sharpe ‘Give it to me. Harder. Oh yeah’ (to massage therapist)#
#yes, I totally made that up. But it COULD have happened

Age Class Results
If you’d like a good laugh, consider this- If I was 25 year younger my 5:41 time would have won the under 20 age class (vs 6:12). However if I was 25 years OLDER, a 5:41 would have been second in class. You read that right, winning time in the 70-79 age class was 5:06. I mean WTF?


Six Foot Track 2013 Gear List

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This is mostly a list to myself so I don’t forget anything. The weather forecast is for 13-23 degrees so I won’t need any extra clothing, but I will be a bit cold at the start…….

What I’m wearing on the day
Salomon Sense Mantra shoes- alternate Salomon Speedcross
Injinji toe socks- vaseline on toes
InnoV8 Gaiters- tropical strength anti leech stuff on calves
Linebreak compression shorts
Patagonia Ultra shorts
Bodyglide on naughty bits
double pocket SPI-Belt
NRG singlet
3M paper medical tape on nipples
Leather weightlifting gloves
Garmin heart rate strap
Garmin 910xt
Serfas Portal sunglasses

What I’m going to carry
2 flasks of home made sports gel
1 Growling Dog Berry bar, cut up
1 85% cacao chocolate bar
9 Salt Stick salt capsules in small zip lock
zip lock bag containing Compeeds and Ventolin inhaler and cash for the end
Sports drink to consume just before the race
Expired credit card to remove leeches

What I’m going to put in my Drop Bag for after the race
Spare shirt
Sports drink
2 plastic bags. One for wet clothes, one for shoes

The weightlifting gloves are to protect my hands if I fall. A simple fall could take you out of the race if you damage your hands, but I’m not 100% sure I’ll take them because 1. there are no hand holds going down nellie’s Glen and 2. there isn’t a huge amount of single track, which are the most likely spots to fall. I’ll eat the chocolate bar and the Growling Dog bar on the way to the river in the hope they will give me a lift up Mini Mini and Pluvi. I won’t be carrying any water as there are 17 aid stations, max 5km between them. In case you think I’m planning to overdose on salt, I always carry a lot more than I need to pay back those who helped me through my cramping in Six Foot Track 2011.

I think that’s it, does anyone have anything else to add?

List of North Face Training runs 2013

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Alternative title- Facebook what have you done to my page?

Training page is here-

I agree it’s not easy to find things on that page, so here’s a list of runs you might be looking for-

Run 1- The HahnMich Manouvre, 17km Saturday 16 March

Run 2- All around the Mulberry Bush, 42km Saturday 23 March

Run 3- Bush Bingo, 38km Saturday 30 March

Run 4- EasyBeasts, 25km Saturday 6 April

Run 5- Canberra Marathon, 42.195km Sunday 14 April

Run 6- Fatass Hellgate Gorge, 46km Saturday 20 April

Run 7- Double Coastal Classic, 60km Thursday 25 April (ANZAC Day)

Run 8- Mr D’s Rock around the Block, 30km Saturday 4 May

I’ll add links to download the maps to the Facebook events individually

11 Signs you might be a Runner

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1. You see lovely calves on a woman in front, realise she’s wearing heels and wince
2. You see calves on a guy in front, realise they’re bigger than yours and wince
3. You see a guy with blood running out of both nipples and feel his pain
4. Someone describes your ‘joggers’ and you correct them
5. You wonder if business shoes come in ‘zero drop’
6. If wearing black is slimming, and running is slimming, then why is running wearing black just stupid?
7. You can justify just about anything you eat, do or don’t do by using various combinations of the words ‘carb loading’ ‘tapering’ ‘LSD’ ‘Fartlek’ ‘bonk’ ‘DOMS’ and ‘hydration’
8. You laugh at people who turn up for a 5km with a hydration pack
9. That’s not a pretty woman up ahead, that’s a mild supinator with overstriding issues, weak gluteus and too much hip movement*
10. You realise the cheaper the run, the more vomit inducing the T-Shirt will be
11. Getting ‘chicked’ isn’t as fun as it sounds



*anatomically impossible? I have no idea, I totally made this up

Stop, Hammer Time!

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I’ve finally come to the conclusion that something is wrong. I have been very lucky having the support of some amazing people, so I know it isn’t my training. I’m putting in the required distance, including some hard efforts and generally doing what is needed.

However my big problem is this- I have plenty of engine going downhills or on flats, but as soon as the terrain heads up, my gasket pops and I have nothing to give. It’s a long standing issue, and I’ve mostly been able to cover it by catching up with the group on flat or downs, but it really does need some attention.

I had a small victory on Saturday, when things were a little easier, so maybe Sam Walker was right- overtraining.

I seem to be able to sustain a heartrate of 160bpm going downhill and still have breath for talking. On the flat I can be pretty comfortable at 130bpm running 5:15 min/km.

BUT, put a hill in there and I can hit 140bpm and my breathing goes crazy. I have to stop and wait for it to pass. Short steps helps a bit, but not much.

Here’s a couple of possible reasons-

1. weight. I am a couple of kg heavier than I’d like to be, but I don’t care enough to fix this, and it seems to be an ongoing issue so this is unlikely to be the cause, but being lighter would help

2. VO2 max. I hope to have this tested as it is the most likely explanation. I was an asthmatic child so I’m guessing my lungs don’t hold much or are not very efficient

3. Not fit enough. Pah, not prepared to go there.


I’ll update when I know more!

Making Your Own Energy Gels

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Hi, my name is Adam and I’m a sugar addict. I use it before, during and after running. I don’t get the deep lows that stop others from using it during races, so I consider myself to be fairly lucky. One thing I have noticed though, is that the guy in the running store looks at me a bit funny when I come in all the time for my fix, er I mean another box of gels. He looks at me even more strangely when I go through the racks and add to my pile a whole bunch of anything new. Most people have sensitive stomachs but I’m lucky enough that I can eat almost anything during a run. And I like pretty much all of the commercial gels on the market, except SIS- Science in Sport. Oh, you have them? Take a look on the side where it says ‘no simple sugars’. Are you f/ing kidding me? Where were my simple sugars when I needed them going up the side of Mt Solitary a few months ago, buddy? That mistake cost me at least 15 minutes…… but I digress.

I use Endura (Citrus and Raspberry, the grape tastes like some horrible lolly at the bottom of a cheap Christmas bucket)  but have to be careful of the (8mg) caffeine content. And I especially like the Accel Gel Key Lime with protein (tastes like cheesecake, yum!). However in a long race I’ve been finding that it’s a bit of a pain keeping the rubbish from flying out of your pocket. And if I forget to empty my pockets at checkpoints, the sticky rubbish really builds up. So I decided to make my own.

After much internet research I found a good starting recipe here, they even sell an ebook with recipes. But I wanted to start very simple, and wanted something that does not need cooking. I’m pleased to say after a few false starts, I finally have an easy recipe that works. Here are the ingredients-

The 1970’s called, they want their kitchen back

Available from health food shops or over the internet. This is a multiple chained carbohydrate often added to foods for bulk. It is easily digested and provides a runner with longer lasting energy than a simple sugar, and doesn’t ‘bonk’ so badly. I paid $28 for 2kg from a health food shop, but I’ve found out that this money would have bought me 5kg or more if I’d shopped around.

Yep, table salt. I’m sure some people will insist on using Himalayan rock salt, but this isn’t rocket science folks

That stuff that comes out of a tap

Lime Juice
Originally from a lime, this time it came out of a squeezy bottle in my fridge

There’s a rumour that the worlds bee population is collapsing, you should read up on why this will possibly mean the death of all human life on the planet. Or perhaps you can just go to your cupboard and get out the sweet tasting fruits of the stinging insects labour

Brown Sugar
This is where I link to a Rolling Stones song isn’t it? This is my one concession against simplicity- I could have used any other kind of sugar, however this was available and it does have a decent flavour.

Here we go-

280g maltodextrin
1/4 teaspoon salt
100ml water
50ml lime juice
80ml honey
50g brown sugar

Put all the ‘other’ ingredients into a bowl and slowly add the water, while mixing. The mixture will need to be mixed quite a lot and it doesn’t hurt to leave it for a while and come back to attack those lumps. In general, the less water you add the less thin the result will be, but you’ll have to chase more lumps. This makes the equivalent of 16 gels, and I pour the mixture into Endura flasks (bottom of this page).

The Endura flasks each store about 125ml of mixture. If you have a look at this page you’ll see that the average serving size is about 30-45ml, so I’m going to estimate a serving size of 32ml or 4 servings to a flask.

This gives the following specs for each serve-
Maltodextrin (96% carb, 16.05 kj per 1g)
280/16= 17.5 (x 0.96)= 16.8g of carbohydrate
17.5x 16.05=  280 Kj

Honey (27% carb, 12.72 kj per 1g)
80/16= 5 (x 0.27)= 1.35g of carbohydrate
5x 12.72 = 63.6 Kj

Brown Sugar (98% carb, 16.70 kj per 1g)
50/16 = 3.125 (x 0.98) = 3.0625g of carbohydrate
3.125 x 16.70 = 52.2 kj

1/4 teaspoon = 1g
1/16 = 0.0625 g per serving, and sodium accounts for 39.3% of the weight of NaCl
therefor each serving contains 24.6mg Sodium

assuming brown sugar and honey only contribute simple sugars, we then have-
Serving size = 32ml
simple carbs= 4.41g
complex carbs= 16.8g
Total carbs= 21.21g
Total energy= 396 kj

Comparing to the table again here, we find that both the carbohydrate and the energy available from our mix is roughly the same, gram for gram. Our serving size is a little smaller and our energy properties are correspondingly smaller, but definitely within the range we would expect. Sodium figures vary wildly between brands, we can easily change this but I’d have to say from experience the sodium is ‘adequate’.

Home made gel flasks

One of these flasks is not like the other ones


I store these in the freezer. They don’t actually freeze, but I figure they will last a bit longer in there.

I had an unused flask left out of the fridge accidentally for over 2 weeks and it looked fine, so I’ve stopped worrying about whether it will give me some nasty bug. I’m not sure why- I guess it would have something to do with the natural preservative action of the honey, the PH of the mixture or the fact that I use lime juice with preservatives? Who knows a food technologist?

Flavour Options
You could swap the water for coffee- that would give you a small caffeine boost in each sip. One shot or 100mg of caffeine over 16 gels is 6.25 mg per gel, a little less than you’d get in an Endura. Or potentially make this a bit simpler by ditching the honey, brown sugar, water  and lime juice and substituting for a fruit based cordial. I didn’t do this because I didn’t want to re do all the calculations!

Anything else?
Each one of these flasks will help you to run 30-40km, but I usually supplement with something else to break the boredom. I always carry 2 flasks on me, but have one wrapped in a sandwich bag so it can go back in the freezer if not used. I always throw out whatever is left in the used flask at the end of a run. Also, as seen on another site, it’s not recommended to use any protein supplements in these home made gels as they will go off rapidly……

Please let me know if you have success with these ideas, or if you have any new recipes, thanks!

Coast to Kosciuzko 2012 (C2K)

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temporary course marker

Photo credits- thanks to Sarah-Jane Marshall and Diane Weaver for some of these pictures

So if you can run for a couple of hours you can complete a half marathon.
If you can run for half a day you can run a marathon.
If you can run for a full day and half the night you can do the North Face 100.
But if you’re either suicidal or running the Coast to Kosci you could run all day, all night, all the next day and half the next night.  That’s 240km, or nearly 6 marathons back to back. The distances, effort and organisation just stagger the mind.

Team photo at the start

It’s Australia’s longest single stage foot race, and since I’d first heard about it I’d been fascinated to find out what could possibly make someone run for that long. This year I was invited by Jane Trumper to be one of her 3 crew, which was a great honour for me. Here’s a few interesting points about the race- they have a maximum number of 50 runners per year. This year there were only 34 starters and 29 finishers- injury and illness made a few pull out. I’m not sure but I suspect they don’t have a waitlist for reasons that should become clear later- it would be impossible to organise a car and crew at short notice, let alone keeping up the training load. Most of the checkpoints are not manned- 3 out of the 6 checkpoints are in public phone boxes. When your runner goes through, one of the crew goes into the phone box and phones a marshall who records the time, you also write the time on a laminated card stuck to the side of the phone box. One of the checkpoints is in a bus shelter, one is a little plastic box beside an abandoned livestock race and another is beside a caravan park. A huge amount of trust is placed in the runners not to cheat, and therefor athlete selection is done very carefully. Paul Every the Race Director knows so much about each of his runners it’s scary! In a conversation after the race he admitted that if you send in a running resume with your qualifiers attached, he will also look up your other results on the internet. For instance if you run a 28 hour Glasshouse 100 miler but he finds out you have 3 DNF’s at the same race, you are likely to get a phone call asking you to justify why you think you can complete C2K. I got the impression that someone who had a bit of a cloud over one of their races was not invited to run despite having qualifiers, but Paul won’t talk about this. Paul is very particular about who gets to enter- he has stated that he wants everyone to finish, so he tries to pick athletes with consistent results, not necessarily fast runners. In some ways that makes it more of an egalitarian, he wants slow runners to fill out the field, but wants to know they will finish before the cutoffs. It’s a very inclusive policy for such a tough race. Another crew member asked Paul on my behalf if he would relax the ‘you must have completed a 100 miler to enter’ but the fact is that I would never contemplate a race like this without having done a 100 mile race, I wouldn’t feel like I’d earned my place.

First light, just before the start

There are 4 aid stations in the first 20km, but crews are not allowed to see their runners until the 24km mark. After that there’s no food or water provided, except at Dalgety, and the food there is mostly for the crews! Each runner has a car with crew that take care of their runner, so the runner carries less than they would in a normal race. For instance, in a trail race I would carry some gels and a backpack with 2l of water in a bladder. In this race Jane carried a handheld bottle of water but almost nothing else as we provided crew service about every 5km.
It goes like this- we drive the car 5km up the road from our runner, pull some chairs out of the car, make up a bottle of sports drink/ electrolyte solution, get some chilled water ready, every few stops we get suncream ready, some stops we had changes of socks and shoes, some required first aid kit to pop blisters or to set up a stove to heat water for cup noodles. We had a bowl full of snacks, so we would change these over often in case we could tempt our runner into eating something. When we see our runner, someone runs down the road with the electrolyte and snack bowl, we try to get the runners to drink and eat, grab her hand held bottle to fill up, and take orders for anything else she may need. That person then runs back to the car and yells out the orders (we had walkie talkies but it was easier to yell). we get the requests ready and someone will then take them up to the runner (most of the race was actually walking) and the other person packs up the car and drives up to pick up the other crew member. The runner does not stop unless there is shoe changing etc to be done. So that’s one crew member with the runner pacing, one taking stuff out to the runner and one organising the car.

I can’t possibly report everything that happened in this report but I will try to give a sense of what it was like to be there. If you want a summary- mostly very tired, with moments of hilarity and pathos.

The Start
There’s no gun going off, no bell, little evidence of electronic timing. Just a bunch of people on a beach at sunrise counting down from 10, then they’re off! It was kind of magical, and a real contrast to any other race! Here’s a video

After the start we had to go back to the caravan park, pack up the car, go into town and get ice, pens bread rolls and have breakfast. This all made us late to meet Jane at the 24km mark, so the first thing out of her mouth was ‘ah, you f@cking @rseholes!’ but at least she smiled, so we were possibly forgiven sometime in the next 200km.

Jane is very camera shy

The Hills
If you’re going from sea level to the top of Kosciuzko there’s going to be a few hills. We were banned from having pacers until sunset on Friday, but Paul the RD said he would not disqualify anyone for having some friends walk with them up Big Jack Mountain (a 7km hill), which we did. At this time Kieron Blackmore and his crew were with us so we had a nice bunch and a bit of a laugh to distract our runners from the size of the hill.

Rocky Hall- the checkpoint is that little phone box on the left

The Checkpoints
At Rocky Hall (50km into the race) there’s a um, hall. And the toilets were open so a lot of people made use of them as until that point you’re basically running through dirt roads with farms. This was the scene of the first sign of the full horror that was to come. About 200m from the hall a runner was on his hands and knees recycling his food. But in true ultra runner style, he got up, declared that he needed to change his nutrition strategy, and kept going. At Cathcart (70km from the start) the Post Office is also the General Store, and the only store for miles around. I had a pie, took a photo of the gun bags (on special) and walked out the front only to be confronted with one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen in daylight. There was a bloke covered head to toe in a hand made leather suit of sorts. The back looked as if it had been not so carefully removed from the cow, and perhaps not tanned well. He had oil stains all over him, and the bit of leather covering his face reminded me of (unsurprisingly) Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Suddenly I could hear banjo music and chainsaws. Then I heard the guy tell another crew member that his skin is photo sensitive to the point where even moonlight will burn him. I wasn’t comforted, because, well, that could just be another explanation for vampirism. So I kept waiting for the sounds of a chainsaw. I should point out that the store itself was wonderful and the lady staff member was super excited to be having her busiest sales day of the year. I just couldn’t help wondering if the ‘locally made pie’ that I ate contained some of last years crew. But Roger Hanney was running, so no.

Cathcart General Store. Gun Bags on special, now I just need a gun.

100km mark. We didn’t have the presence of mind to do one for 200km

The dead tree. It’s dead Jim

The dead tree isn’t a checkpoint but it is a significant landmark (102km), and this is where Kieron and Jane decided to have dinner. So I took many photos of a bit of dead wood sticking out of the ground. Apparently it used to be much more impressive. Only 4km on from here is the next checkpoint , and it was bang on 8:30pm so I suited up and went with Jane for the night shift. Jane was about half an hour behind her splits from the previous year at this point which was a remarkable achievement considering 2011 was a personal best time plus she was sick before we started in 2012. I had no intention of speeding her up, and we’d already discussed as a crew that if she made it to this intersection (106km into the race) in a reasonable time she could walk the rest of the way and still make the cut offs. I had 2 choices her- I could tell jokes, ask about her kids, work, religion etc to take her mind off things, or I could just shut the hell up and walk beside her. I figured that if the brain uses 30% of your energy I should shut up and take a bit of strain off. Good choice, because Jane spent the next 8 hours alternating between saying ‘oh dear’ and dry retching. So I got to play a mind game of ‘where will Jane spew next?’ It was obvious she was in a bad way, but she managed to control it and continue to eat and drink. It was very difficult to be positive about the situation and I don’t think she would have appreciated me making light of it, but I did manage to say ‘look as long as we can get past the witching hours of 12-4am, we will be ok’. Little goals.
I hadn’t properly prepared for my stint which meant I needed some Body Glide, but one of our crew members was sleeping on top of it! I turned off my headlamp for a while to check out the stars, but Jane said ‘watch out for the snakes that like to get warmth from the road’, so I switched it back on. When we arrived in Dalgety (148km) I was so relieved that my stint was over, but very worried that Jane was resting her head on the table. We had made good time on this stint, it was probably 4:15am when we arrived at Dalgety and we had walked most of the way. Departure at 4:30am put us back to 30 minutes behind last years time, but at least Jane was on the move again.

Jane and Kieron’s crew. Not having fun, obviously

run along then

Ron took the next shift and bless him forever- he told us just to park the car, he would get Jane’s essentials and we could sleep. He would tap on the window so we could move 5km up the road. Using this method I got about 3x 20-40 minute sleeps and felt a bit better. Ron put Jane in the car for a 12 minute nap and she was much better after this. Sarah Jane (the other crew member) was very excited to take the final stint from Jindabyne Caravan Park (184km)- only a marathon and a half to go! It was Saturday morning by now, and the sun was baking hot. Unfortunately the course follows a road and there is no shade, so we had to step up the sunscreen, water and occasionally use a spray gun with water to cool down Jane and Sarah Jane. I was having little micro sleeps, forgetting peoples names and generally not making any sense by now. If anyone knows how to make a decent coffee (as in espresso coffee) in a car please let me know. Another checkpoint at Perisher Village in a bus shelter (212km).  At 35km from Jindabyne to Charlotte’s Pass (221km) there were a lot of stops as we shortened the length for safety, but we finally made it just before 7pm. Ron and I had put out all of the mandatory cold weather gear and had it checked off, but of course the girls turned up and they both said ‘that’s not my gear!’ We suited up and all of us took off for what was to be the last 18km of the race- the trip to the top of Mt Kosci and back, 9km each way.

on our way up to the top of Kosci

Actual frozen water. Yes, I did have a play!

It’s a lovely walk, and gave us the opportunity to see other athletes and their crews coming up and down the mountain. We arrived at the top around 8:50pm and just as the last rays of light were disappearing over other mountains in the area. A quick photo, add a few layers of clothing and we were on our way back down. Again I turned off the headlamp to enjoy the incredible star show, but had to turn it back on when I remembered the quite large, and aggressive looking black spiders that had come out to play on the trail. The others were slightly ahead and Jane was getting worse again, it was only a few km from the end but she was starting to weave along the track and ask in an anguished voice how far to go. I couldn’t lie and tried to minimise the bad news by using a calm voice to tell her how far. At one point she said ‘what would you do if I collapsed right now?’ and I realised she would not mention it unless it was becoming likely, so I replied ‘I’ll pick you up in a firemans lift’ ‘but that’s mechanical assistance and I’ll get disqualified’ Ahhh, so she can still think, and she’s worried that I will carry out my threat. This means she will probably stay upright. And she did. So just before 11pm on Saturday night- Forty one hours, twenty eight minutes and eight seconds after starting, Jane crossed the finish line for her fourth C2K. Her last C2K apparently- until 22 hours later when she said she wasn’t sure……..

Jane did not slip so we’ve got nothing to send to Funniest Home Videos. This time.

We got everyone into the car and I drove the 35km back down to Jindabyne. I was in the best condition of everyone, but I had some hallucinations coming down the mountain and came close to stopping the car a couple of times. Pretty sure I saw at least one real wombat, but the family of wombats turned out to be some low shrubs…….

At the top, sun just gone.

After the Race
We got to sleep by 12:30am, but I woke at 6:15am and stayed up as I needed a shower and was worried I would  be unable to wake again until the end of time. A big breakfast (mmmm, bacon!), several coffees and I was ready for the presentation at 9am.

Male and Female podium

Oh boy were there some broken people at this event. I’d say most of the runners were unable to wear shoes, some couldn’t even get thongs on their feet. But I can’t describe the emotion and love in that room. Paul Every called out every single finisher and gave a small speech about each person. He knew their race history, highs and lows and how much they had gone through to get to the start line. There was a huge cheer for the guy who came last- Brett Saxon had stopped the clock at 45 hours 54 minutes and some seconds- a mere 6 minutes before the cutoff. Everyone who finished got up on stage, everyone got a hug from Paul and his partner Diane. Paul told stories about the history of the race- some were funny and some made us all cry. He called Jane ‘bomb proof’ which of course she is. Nick had a 12 hour pb vs 2011. A couple of people got ‘ugly feet awards’, one guy was told by his Doctor to run to avoid back pain and ended up at C2K. Pam Muston had a blister about twice the size of my little toe. Keirons toes looked like they’d been through a meat grinder.
A note about prizes. There is no prize money. If you finish the race, you get an Akubra hat and a hat pin. But only the first time- each subsequent time gets you a hat pin but no more Akubras. If you’ve done the race before you’re expected to bring your hat for the ‘team’ photo after the presentation. You’d better believe those hats are like olympic gold medals.

The finishers- every one’s a winner baby!

This is not a terribly glamorous sport (as you may have noticed). After the presentation I found one of the runners asking others ‘how many times did you poo during the race?’ Luckily everyone was happy to share. Unfortunately this person then held up some fingers and I was worried the next question would be ‘how much?’ so I hurried away.

After Party
You’d think with an average of 3 hours a night of sleep (for the crew, runners even less) that we’d be happy to curl up and have the dreamless sleep of the half dead. But no. We went out for dinner on the Sunday night and swapped unlikely (but true) stories until we were kicked out of the bar/ restaurant. Then the barman came outside to tell us to go home 20 minutes later as everyone was still chatting away on the front step.

The Laughs
Kieron Blackmore getting his pacer to radio forward an order to his crew ‘I’d like 2 cherry tomatoes, a cos lettuce leaf and some sparkling water. Even funnier was the reaction of the crew ‘Shit, we don’t have any cos lettuce!’.
Being told that it was our ‘duty’ as Jane Trumper’s crew to get naked and stand in this creepy garden of mannequins by the side of the road. Luckily we didn’t have time for this. Coming around the corner to see a dead wallaby acting as an unofficial course marker. Kieron and Joey marching past us about 2am on Saturday yelling US Marine songs ‘I don’t know what I’ve been told’. Guys, that song has thousands of responses, please learn some of them. Hearing the same thing for 40 minutes made me want to slow down so I couldn’t hear you any more- maybe that was your strategy? Some time later the energy disappeared, and the next time I saw Kieron he was walking like a zombie with one hand on his pacers shoulder for direction while his eyes were closed.
Apparently after the race he went to see a Doctor about his toes and the following exchange took place- Doctor ‘how did you damage your little toe?’. Kieron ‘I ran a 240km race’. Doctor ‘you’re f@cked in the head’.
One of Kierons crew after a toilet stop ‘that was the best dump ever’. Me ‘you should post that on FaceBook’.
The look on the face of the lady in the cafe when Joey ordered a ‘soy decaf latte’.

One of the runners came down the mountain and said the clamber over the ice was a bit treacherous. He’s and expert at mountain safety, but rather than leave it to someone else, he organised a shovel, star pickets and some rope, suited up and went back up the mountain to cut some stairs in the ice. Kevin Heaton (Brick on CoolRunning) you are a bloody legend, and fully deserving of the teams prize for outstanding contribution to the race.

The Winners
If you want to know what human aspects make the winners of an event like this so special, I have 2 stories for you. Firstly the male winner Ewan Horsburgh- I’d seen him race at Glenbrook only 2 weeks before. He’s won the 25km race and was way ahead of the next competitor. It was turning into a massively hot day (multiple ambulances were called for other runners), so what did he do? After a few minutes rest he said quietly to his wife ‘I’ve got 30km on the program today, so I’m just going to run 5km up that hill, see you in a little while’. He had no idea that I could hear this.
Now to the female winner, Bernadette Benson- during the presentation ceremony she gave a little speech in which she said the thing that annoyed her most about the race was the race medic coming up beside her and asking 4 times ‘how do you feel’. Now 4 times during a 240km race is not that much but she made sense when she said ‘don’t ask me how I feel, it’s completely irrelevant how I FEEL!’. The answer to that question is obviously ‘I feel like crap’ but a better question would be ‘are you having any medical problems that would cause you to stop?’ Answer- ‘I still feel like crap, but there’s no way I’m going to stop!’ Tough as nails doesn’t adequately describe these people.

The Sublime
Every single view was a picture postcard. The pics don’t do the sheer beauty of every scene justice. I took loads of photos of the dead tree just because of the way the light fell around it. If you never consider doing this race (OK good, you may be sane) you should travel through this countryside. At a slow pace.

The Ridiculous
The whole scope of this thing is ridiculous, but out of that something strange and wonderful shines. You get to meet a whole bunch of crazy people and become their best mates for a few days, sharing success, ambition, steadfastness and sometimes failure. It’s more zen than a zen master, and crazier than a bag of snakes.

The Bug
So have I got the bug and want to do this race? I don’t know. To state the obvious, it’s a very long way. And if one of my heroes like Keith Hong takes 2 goes to finish, it doesn’t look good for me. Just getting to the start line would be a major achievement, but remember I don’t even meet the minimum qualifier. Could I do it? Maybe- but it’s pretty obvious this isn’t a ‘maybe’ race. This is a full on, fully committed, one track mind event. That also means I would need support from my closest buddy Sarah, my wife. Also there’s a financial commitment. I have no idea what the race fee is but I’m sure it’s only about 10% of the total cost. Jane paid for 4 nights accommodation for 4 people and so many sundry expenses as well.

I want to express my deep appreciation to Ronald Stevens, who didn’t say much, but remained even tempered and useful while the rest of us went gaga from lack of sleep. He’s a very interesting guy to have a conversation with. To Sarah Jane Marshall, who always had loads of enthusiasm and made everything easier to deal with. Sarah Jane also had the car packed with stuff  before we even set off which was beyond excellent. To the other crews and runners, particularly Kieron, Joey, Emma and Lise you made those long waits lots of fun. To the runners, I’m in awe. To Paul and Dianne the race organisers- I finally understand why you would work so hard for a race with so few starters, please don’t change! And to Jane, I learn so much every time I run with you, thanks for everything. And for finishing, even though you probably shouldn’t have started.

Not Enough?
for more photos, please have a look here and some video here