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Everest Challenge — Race Notes 2011 — Race Support

The Everest Challenge is an exceptionally well-run race, so what follows should be understood as tweaking an already great race. Not every thought or suggestion here is necessarily the only way to go, and some ideas might be too much to expect, organizationally.

The volunteers at aid stations were numerous and helpful, and the level of support was really good. The limitation is that riders aiming for the very best time have a strict requirement for getting through the aid stations efficiently. Yet no rider can reasonably expect to instantly obtain exactly what is wanted at every stop, so one must plan ahead for contingencies. I will learn from my mistakes next year.

Fuel and hydration

I had been expecting Perpetuem pre-mixed, but I was not able to obtain it, not even once (helpfull volunteers offered to mix it for met, but I did not want to lose a minute or more while waiting for a mix).

Even HEED was not available for handoffs in some cases (e.g., Glacier Lodge), which cost me at least a minute when I stopped to fill my 1-liter bottle from a slow-fill container getting low on fluid pressure.

I must have a guarantee of availability if I’m racing for time. For that reason, those looking for their best time must assume water only, and carry enough supplementary fuel to self-sustain when aid stations do not have HEED or other pre-mixed fuel available for a fast handoff (already filled bottle handed to the rider as the rider passes by). With water, be certain to also grab several gel packets at the aid station, in addition to water. And carry one’s own electrolytes, such as Hammer Endurolytes.

Ideally, the EC staff should make it clear which mixes and fuels absolutely will be available at all stops— “maybe” is not something one can plan on. If that is water only, so be it, and one can plan accordingly. For this reason, I’d like to see the water offered LAST, so that if there is no HEED or Perpetuem handoff, the water could be grabbed at the end of the line, just before turning around, since plain water is usually my last choice.

To stretch it a bit on the organizational front, large legible signs designating WATER, HEED, GELS, etc could help riders know where to get each at a glance. Well spaced out.

Also, it would be helpful to know the dilution in advance (kept consistent), so that one knows how many calories are being ingested.

Energy gels

I would have preferred grab-bowls of gels sorted by flavor, so I could ride by and grab 2 or 3 gels at a time of my preferred caffeinated flavor. There could be several such bowls spaced out so that there is no stop-and-block issue from riders, perhaps before and after the water bottle handouts. Most handoffs were one gel, which made me slow down to ask for another one. I would prefer to grab 3 at a time, since that is the minimum I’d need with water between aid stations. Even better would be a cold gel flask with 5 servings. Or perhaps the aid personnel could just be ready with at least two packets at all times. I personally prefer to keep my pockets stuffed with at least 3 gel packets at all times, since I consume about 3 per hour.

Electrolytes

It would have been nice to have Endurolytes offered at handoffs, both as a convenience and a reminder, perhaps starting at Pine Creek. Bottom line is that I really goofed by not carrying my own, and taking them, which caused me distress for Stage 1.

Summit finish

Great work here from the staff, but with one minor complaint: when I arrived at the Mosquito Flat summit, feeling very cold and wobbly and suffering mightily from electrolyte loss, I asked for Endurolytes and could not obtain any; the volunteer apparently did not know what they were. I did obtain some Endurolytes about 5 minutes later when I saw them appear on the table, but it would have been best to have these in PLAIN SIGHT at the last two aid stations and summits, and to offer them as a reminder also.

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