Author: Ben Parsons – Team Hammer Nutrition/Sportsman Ski Haus
The Breck Epic consisted of 251 miles, 42,000’ of climbing over six days, and the majority of it was trail. Trail that often made you howl with joy, and trail that sometimes left you feeling like a bag of bones hurled off the face of the Eiger. Adding to the challenge, Breckenridge sits at 9500’, so we routinely raced between 10,000’ and 12,000’ so oxygen was an asset as rare and valuable as beer in the desert. As a last minute decision, we decided to race the Open Men’s Duo instead of solo, hearing there was a super stacked field and wanting to take a shot at a podium. We were also intrigued at the challenge of completing over twenty hours of racing with a teammate.
We went into the race with a coffin full of products and supplements to aide us in every way possible in dealing with the altitude, recovery, and fatigue. Steve Born had given us a detailed schedule of supplements and fueling for each meal of the day and each hour of the race. Thanks Steve, you are obviously well versed in squeezing the maximum amount of performance out of the body (legally of course). We also wanted to err towards going out slow and building each day instead of blowing up like a firecracker similar to our teammates’ experience at the Marathon Nationals this year. This proved to be an excellent plan as each day, we were able to saddle up and go out with legs that felt relatively fresh and ready for the days work. In fact, we were consistently battling out for the overall top ten by the end of the week (though we were racing the Duo Men’s Open category).
Our fueling on the bike was simple, a flask of espresso hammer gel (gotta have the caffeine to keep sharp for 4 hours straight), and a pill container full of Endurolytes along with separate coin purses with Anti-Fatigue Caps and Endurance Amino. Post race we would sip Recoverite while soaking the legs in a icy creek, then head back to the condo while Chad from Shimano would buff our bikes out so they were ready to rip the next day (Thanks Chad!). Back at the man shack we would eat a huge meal, post a race update, stretch, and kick the legs up. Following awards and race descriptions for the following day, we would again retreat to the man cave, cook an even bigger dinner, and do one more ice bath before a 9 o’clock bedtime. There’s something that can’t be simulated when training for endurance events and pushing the body at maximal output. Each day we had four hours to concentrate on aspects of racing such as start positioning, conserving energy, cadence, perceived effort, technical prowess, fueling, and listening to the body and observing the changes it goes through during each stage. We both truly experienced the advantage of keeping the body fueled well with high quality calories and supplements. We both felt as we had an advantage over the field, and it showed as each day we got stronger compared to the pack, and each day we awoke with surprisingly fresh legs.
Racing the Breck Epic was like a summer fun camp for big kids. Every day we were greeted with great weather, an amazing route, flowy singletrack, spectacular views, and great people. All the organizers, volunteers, and Mike McCormack made the event feel like something they’ve been putting on for years. Racing day in and day out, we got to meet some really cool people and actually get to know them. Sadly, our race ended one day early as Clint took a digger in the last few moments of Stage 5. He had to be bussed to Denver for reconstructive surgery while Ben was left to race the last stage in dedication to his teammate.
Needless to say, we will be back next year with the graces of Hammer Nutrition and Mike of the Breck Epic. And if I were you, I might sign up sooner than later because this truly is an experience that cannot be duplicated nor one to soon forget … word gets out and registration will be sold out quicker than a Beatles reunion concert.