How do you fuel for a 170km MTB race above 3000m?

15 August 2023

Brendan “Trekky” Johnston runs through his fuelling strategy for the 2023 Leadville Trail 100

Leadville is an out and back course essentially. So we have the opportunity to receive support from staff at 2 points on the way out and also the same 2 points on the way back, 4 aid stations during the 170km race in total. The race itself took me 6 hours 26min. I was shooting at 100g carbs per hour as a minimum. I made a minor change with my nutrition strategy as I have been struggling to take in the required amount via gels and solids at the high altitude races. I opted for a more fluid based strategy, in the form of GU Roctane drink mix which I can get 60g carbs per 750mm bottle. I would supplement this with an additional 2 x GU gels per hour and a packet of gummy bears in my pocket which I’d graze on throughout. At each of the 4 aid stations I’d take 2 bottles, except for the second, which is at the base of the Columbine Mine climb which is 10km at 8%. The final 2 feeds I take the 2 bottles but also a Monster Energy Juice Mango Loco. I often collect one of these in training from the servo and enjoy the boost I get.

I found this to be a perfect strategy for Leadville, I built with energy throughout the race which is really pleasing especially for the highest altitude race in the world.

Breakdown of Trekky’s carbohydrate intake:

  • 9 x GU Roctane drink mix bottles (59g of carbs)
  • 2 x Monster Energy Juice Mango Loco (60g of carbs)
  • 9 x GU gels (21g of carbs)
  • 1 x 150g gummy bears (120g of carbs)
  • Total carbs = 960g
  • Carbs per hour = 149g

After a small mid-season break Trekky had built his form back nicely and after a slow start, rode his way to 18th place at the Leadville Trail 100. He is now looking forward to continuing to build as he prepares for a 220km gravel race in Utah in 2 weeks, before the next round of the Lifetime GP Chequamegon MTB Festival on September 16.