Would You Drink a Strange Mix of Liquids to Run 100 Miles?

Would you drink a strange mix of liquids to run 100 miles?
.
😀You know, something that could...

  • Keep your stomach from turning on you
  • Give you a boost of energy
  • Replenish electrolytes
  • Maybe even reset your gut if you've slacked on eating and drinking for hours

🤮Last year at the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra, vomiting eventually won the race, leaving me with a DNF around 83 miles.
.
🏃‍♂️So to run this race for the ninth time and hang on to the course record for the most finishes, I came prepared with a curious concoction that I hoped would helped me go the distance.
.
Here's what happened...

Evan Jensen waits for the start of the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra hosted by Go Beyond Racing on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.

On Your Mark...Get Set...Go!

Here's the funny thing about running ultras...
.
Even with the best training and nutrition strategy practiced over thousands of miles and countless hours, you never really know how things are going to turn out when you run an ultra.
.
There's a lot of variables you can't always control like:

  • Weather
  • Gear malfunctions
  • Getting lost
  • Fall/injury
  • 🤮Stomach issues

I'm hardly an ultrarunning legend, but I've been at it long enough to finish 10 out of 15 100-mile ultras.

  • 🏃‍♂️So when I signed up to run the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultramarathon in Oregon this year, finishing was my primary goal. 
  • 🤮To improve my chances of finishing, I had to figure out a way to go the distance without the kind of sick-stomach-vomiting shenanigans that cost me the race last year.

Would a summer of running lots of 30-plus-milers on roads and trails to test out fueling options pay off?
.
There's only one way to find out...

The first 12 miles of the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile course included a barren landscape of national forest burned by the Lionshead Fire that devastated more than 204,000 acres in 2020.

Miles 1 - 12: Beware of Overheating

I chatted with my friend Ben Blessing just before the start of the race. 

  • Eleven years ago, he was in charge of the last aid station at Cascade Crest 100.
  • When I rolled in dead last and close to missing the finish-line cutoff, he convinced me I could make it.
  • Then he grabbed his dog, and basically mushed me to the finish line shouting words of encouragement.
  • This year we both showed up to run Mountain Lakes.

The first 12 miles included barren landscape burned by the Lionshead Fire that devastated more than 204,000 acres in 2020.

  • It was dusty, with lots of rocks and miles of blackened trees.
  • After just a few miles, I was glad I ditched my gloves and jacket at the start. It was already heating up.
  • Five miles in, I heard someone yell, "It's dislocated!" A runner had taken a fall, fracturing her wrist in the process. Fortunately, a couple runners with medical training came to her aid.

By the time I returned to Olallie Lake, it was already in the 80s.
.
🤮Already, my stomach wasn't quite right. .
But it was too early to gulp down the curious concoction I had in my pack if things got really bad...

Evan Jensen met his crew at the Historic Clackamas Lake Ranger Station after running 40 miles during the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra.

Miles 13 - 40: The Fueling-Strategy Failure

Somehow I managed to avoid overheating during the next 30ish miles, even though temperatures hovered in the mid-80s.
.
It was hot out there, but I tried to stick to the race strategy I practiced over and over during the summer:

  • Run the flats
  • Walk the uphills
  • Bomb the downhills
  • Eat and drink every 30 minutes
  • Aim for 300+ calories and 400+ mg of sodium per hour
  • Feeling tired? Take a 5-minute walk break and reassess

That was enough to get me to the historic Clackamas Ranger Station near Timothy Lake, and meet my crew.
.
🤮The truth: My stomach wasn't right, but I didn't want to admit it.

  • For the last couple of hours, I was only eating about 100 calories per hour, not drinking enough, and I stopped taking salt pills.
  • Based on my experience running in the heat, this is a recipe for disaster
  • The soul suckers known as Sick Stomach, Dehydration, Cramping, and Fatigue we're knocking on my door

I left the Clackamas Ranger Station with my headlamp headed for Little Crater Lake, determined to fuel a little better.

Miles 40 - 46: 'If You're Gonna Spew, Spew into This'

I've ran this section of the Mountain Lakes 100 course around Timothy Lake dozens of times.
.
It's less than an hour's drive from where I live, and where the Timothy Lake Marathon is held in June.
.
But at dusk after running 40 miles in the heat of the day, it felt hard.
.
🤮And I could tell my stomach was on the edge.
.
I've tried all kinds of things to prevent stomach issues during 30-plus-mile runs over the years, like:

  • Gingerale
  • Ginger chews
  • Pepto Bismol tablets
  • Tums tablets
  • Peppermint candies
  • And more

🤢But nothing seemed to really work, so I started testing a curious concoction of liquids over the summer to see if these ingredients could pull me out of another episode of vomiting and dry heaves.
.
My stomach wasn't totally gone by the time I reached the Little Crater Lake Aid Station.
.
So I half-heartedly ate a grilled cheese sandwich, and drank two cups of Coke, before heading to Frog Lake, kind of like the point of no return on the course.

To reset his stomach around the halfway point during the Mountain Lakes 100, Evan drank Boost Plus Chocolate Milk, Pickle-Ice Shot, Kroger Extra Strength Berry Energy Drink, 12 ounces of Coke, along with two SaltStick Electrolyte Capsules.

Sick stomach & an unlikely concoction of liquids to fix it

When I hit the Frog Lake Aid Station around mile 46 long after midnight, my stomach was in full-on Nausea Mode.
.
🤢I spent a chunk of time walking this uphill section, hoping my stomach would settle down. But it didn't.

  • A few miles out of the Little Crater Lake Aid Station, I completely stopped eating and drinking.
  • I rolled into the Frog Lake Aid Station feeling terrible, sat down in a chair and listened to the chatter among the aid station volunteers and runners.
  • I felt terrible. And I knew my poor fueling over many hours was to blame.

While I'm contemplating running the next 60ish miles, there's a runner lying on a cot moaning. (I've been there before)

  • Another runner starts asking him questions. 
  • There's a short Q&A between the two.
  • Then the runner delivers this motivational speech in a booming voice...
  • "You got this. You can do this. Even if you walked the rest of the race, you could finish before the cut off. Come on, man...Move!"
  • And the guy on the cot literally gets up, puts his pack back on and starts moving

🙏I took it as a sign from the Universe:
.
"You know what you need to do. Drink the stuff in your pack. It's the only way..."
.
I opened my pack and tossed back a curious combo of liquids:

Evan Jensen finished the 2023 Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra in 28:17:04.

Miles 46 - 101.3: Earning the Buckle

Under normal circumstances, a concoction like this might turn your stomach upside down.
.
But in the middle of the night with depleted electrolytes, under fueled, and dehydration edging closer, this liquid mix (which I practiced with many times over the summer), did the trick.
.
I grabbed a tortilla lathered in cream cheese with sliced pickles wrapped up inside and headed out.

  • Fatigue during the witching hours around 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. disappeared, and energy levels went up
  • That nauseating feeling in my stomach went away
  • I resumed the eating and drinking fueling strategy I started with
  • And I ticked off the rest of the miles, reaching the finish line in 28:17:04.
Fun fact. My 9-year-old made this 100 pancake for me a few days before Mountain Lakes 100.

Fueling strategies for ultrarunning...

Here's the tricky thing about nutrition strategies for ultrarunning...

  • Sure, there are some general guidelines everyone should follow about hydration and fueling
  • But everybody responds a little differently to all the variables at play
  • What works for one person, might not work for another person
  • That's why it's critical to test out fueling strategies long BEFORE race day

Here's my fueling recommendations, based on 25-plus years running marathons and ultras:

  • Drink up. Hydrate well at least a day before your race. Top off the tank with 12-plus ounces before go-time. And drink every 30 to 60 minutes during the race. You're also better off to drink up and hydrate early, rather thank think you'll catch up later. During this year's race, I drank an average of 16 to 20 ounces per hour.
  • Fuel with food. You can get through a marathon on gels and drinks. Maybe even a 50K. But longer than that, you'll perform better if you fuel with real food. During the Mountain Lakes 100, I ate gummies and gel packs. But I also ate grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, watermelon, and a pancake lathered in Nutella folded over with salty tater tots inside. My goal was 300 to 400 calories per hour. Sometimes I hit this, other times my intake over an hour was zero.
  • Electrolyte/sodium replacement is critical. Even after running 15 100s, lots of marathons, and many 26-plus mile runs, this is still a work in progress. During this year's 100, I averaged 400mg of sodium per hour from food, drink, and salt tablets. However, low sodium levels and electrolyte depletion is often the beginning of the end with GI issues, muscle cramps, fatigue, and more. 
  • Find a way to bounce back from low sodium/electrolytes FAST. Yes, you can absolutely bounce back if you're low. But the sooner you take action, the more likely you are to get back on track and make the cutoffs. Some good options: Broth, pickle juice, salt caps, and easy-to-eat salty foods. Or give my Strange Mix of Liquids a try (on a training run first)
Evan Jensen has ran Mountain Lakes 100 nine times, and holds the course record for the most finishes (7 out of 9).

7 Fun Surprises at Mountain Lakes 100

1. A surprise visit from Spencer & Anita McCoy- Realtor on the course right after dark.
.
2. Dad jokes and disco costumes at the Warm Springs Aid Station + help from THE Anthony Bucci.
.
3. The motivational speech Runner #258 gave to the guy suffering on the cot at Frog Lake Aid Station, that literally got him to rise up and keep going.
.
4. Adventure Medics taping my heel at Clackamas Ranger Station when I started feeling a hot spot. Blister averted.
.
5. Laughing with Christopher Laman running down to Olallie Meadows when he said: "This is just mean. I love this sport."
.
6. A message waiting for me at Pinheads Aid Station from THE Blayne Yates who was in the area bow hunting.
.
7. All the training miles, encouragement, help and support to get to the finish line from Shazam Smith + Steven & Michele Watts 

👟Shoes, Gear & Fuel

Shoes

  • Nike Pegasus Trail 4. I've been running roads and trail in this shoe for more than a year. Burned through four pair so far. A little unstable at times, but otherwise a very nice shoe that can do double duty on roads and trails. 

Vest

  • Nathan VaporAir 2.0. There's plenty of storage in this pack, room for the bladder, and zippered pockets. Truthfully, the original version fit better, but I wore mine to shreds over 10 years of running trails.

Watch 

  • Garmin Fenix 7X (Solar). Amazing battery life for running ultras. Ran in GPS mode for 28-plus hours, and it still had 50% battery life left. One of my favorite features: You can set a drink alert to help you stay on top of hydration and fueling.

GPS Tracker

  • Garmin InReach Messenger. This worked well. My crew stayed in Government Camp about 20 miles from Timothy Lake. They chilled out in style, checked on my status, and drove over to meet me multiple times. However, even in the same area at other times during the year, the satellite communication appeared to be hit and miss, possibly from heavy cloud cover.

Jacket

  • Brooks Canopy Waterproof Jacket. This jacket is super lightweight. I didn't need it for rain this year (but it has rained cats and dogs at Mountain Lakes 100 before. And the first race 10 years ago was actually called off before anyone finished because of a Pineapple Express and extreme weather conditions (thunder, lightning, wind, torrential rain). I mainly wore this jacket during the night and early-morning hours.

Headlamp

  • Fenix HM70R 1,600-Lumen Headlamp. I've use this headlamp for running in the dark for about five years. It's super bright, only has one button, and one rechargeable battery. My only complaint, when the light goes dim, indicating low battery, you don't have a lot of time to switch it out before it goes dark. Otherwise, this headlamp is awesome. Comfortable headstrap and easy to adjust.

Fuel

Rate This:


Share This:

Subscribe

and never miss our new running content!
(you also score chances to win gear)
1.1k
Evan Jensen
Ambassador
SANDY, Oregon
31 Followers
2 Following

I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM...

Comments

Login to your account to leave a comment.

Related Articles

Trending WeeViews

Image of Other INOXTO
Full Review
Image of Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3
Image of Women’s 6k
Image of Miles for Migraine
Image of Nike Metcon 5

Join the Community

It's FAST and FREE. Create a short profile and link any desired social media accounts, personal websites or blogs.

Search

Want to Earn Free Running Gear?

We offer opportunities for sponsored gear and race entries for sharing your reviews.

What are you waiting for?  We want to hear what you have to say!