For running ultra-marathons, many people focus on nutrition during long efforts to

practice for the big day, but in my experience, a well dialed hydration plan can make or

break your race experience! I’m going to walk you through my Hydration plan from


Where do you start planning?

During my latest race, at UTMB, I started by looking at the course map to see where the

aid stations were and planned my fuel accordingly. This will determine how much water

and how many gels I bring with me from the start and how many I need to pick up at key

aid stations along the way.

Water vs. Electrolyte Drink? What do you use?

I calculate my nutrition needs based on consuming 200-300 cal/hour and this includes

my hydration needs, since drinks with electrolytes in them typical have some sort of

calorie content. The main electrolyte drink minx I use is Skratch Labs. Not only do I like

the taste (which is important), their electrolyte profile is spot on. I always use a

combination of water and electrolyte drink mix, during UTMB, I had two 500mL

SpeedFlasks with straws for easy drinking. One flask was always filled with water, and

the other with a scoop of my Skrtach Labs Drink mix. During the later hours of the race,

when it got hotter and I got a little tired, I added 1.5 scoops of my scratch mix to my

flask (premeasured in little bags I took with me) with some added caffeine (my favorite

is the Matcha Skrtach drink mix).

How do you make sure you stay hydrated throughout the race?

100 miles is a long way. It took me 29 hours to run UTMB while drinking roughly 500mL

of fluids an hour. The important thing for a hydration plan is to make sure you are

drinking to thirst – it’s the body’s cue that you are drinking enough. I always drink to

thirst with plain water and then supplement the sips with my electrolyte mix. I also listen

to my body’s salt cravings. This is an indication that I might need more electrolytes. It’s

not ucommon to crave slaty things, especially later in a race or when it gets really hot. I

try to pay attention to those cravings, so when I come to an aid station, I can grab some

salty chips, or potatoes, to nibble on throughout the race. I wash it down with plain water

and of course, I planned to increase my electrolyte consumption in the later hours of the

race – by adding 1.5 scoops of scratch to my SpeedFlasks.

What HydraPak Products did I use for UTMB?

I’m a big fan of bottles, and if a race has enough aid stations to get by with bottles, I

prefer to use those as opposed to a bladder. Bottles are a bit lighter and much easier to

fill up during a race setting. My favorite HydraPak products for racing are the 500mL

Speedflasks. The pop-cap top makes it so easy to refill bottles in aid stations, without

having to worry about screwing on and off the top. I also changed the drinking

attachment to straws. This made it easier for me to keep drinking as the flasks

collapsed in my vest, the straws kept the access to my hydration easier. Usually in long

races I bring a filter flask with me, but in a race like UTMB, there are many refill stations

for water, so I did just fine with my 2 flasks.

Overall, I was very satisfied with my HydraPak gear choices for UTMB, and my

hydration plan went very well, thanks to the ease of my gear choices and products I put

in them. The only addition to my hydration plan, was later in the race, I mixed coca-cola

with water to get an extra energy and caffeine boost, but that’s pretty much standard

with an ultra these days!

If you have any questions on planning hydration or executing it on race day, drop them

in the comments below.

One Comment

  • Buzz Burrell says:

    Good job carefully calling out your sponsors, but my eyes only lit up at the very end when you added that coca-cola was “pretty much standard…” Yup! I used to use Coke to clean out the carburetor in my car, I never go near the stuff, except at races. When it’s the miracle beverage. I have no idea why, but one can power down a coke when nothing else works. Frank Shorter drank nothing but de-fizzed cokes during his marathons. After the event, I go back to despising it. It’s a weird game we play.

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