Of all the disciplines and all the courses in 24 hour racing, the solo competition at Moab has to be the hardest of the hard. Every mile of the course wants to put you in the ER, and the slightest loss of focus will do just that. Staying both physically strong and mentally aware at this distance requires the rider to be just as stubborn as the rocks they negotiate. Extensive training and a nutrition plan worthy of 240 miles of off-road riding are another “must-have” for this type of undertaking.
Chosen to represent Hammer Nutrition for this daunting task was none other than Cary Smith, a relentless mountain man from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Cary has proven himself time and time again in various ultra endurance events, ranging from 100-mile mountain bike races to very tough ski mountaineering challenges. However, Moab brings out the hard men and women of the sport, and there is no such thing as an easy day at a 24-hour race. Everyone goes through low points in this discipline . . . the difference is just who can push through to the other side. It seemed Cary may have let the pressure get to him for a minute at one of the biggest stages in the sport, but he refused to give up and salvaged a podium spot on his debut attempt at a 24 solo. Here’s what the Hammer rider had to say about his race:
I, unfortunately, didn’t have my best day out there. I felt a bit flat. I think I put a bit too much pressure on myself beforehand and it made me unsure of how to approach the race. On Saturday morning I knew it would be a long day and I tried to stay calm, but I think I stayed too calm and didn’t get the “eye of the tiger.” Being apprehensive before the start caused me to alter my routine slightly. I don’t think I ate enough Friday night and Saturday morning. I lost my bottle at the start of the second lap, had nothing to drink until the third lap when I pounded too much liquid to “catch up,” couldn’t assimilate the fluid, and stomach cramps started happening about three hours in. I was drinking a 1:1 mixture of Sustained Energy and HEED with the “supplement slurry” mixed in, but I got behind in my caloric intake. I finally stopped at 5pm, swearing I would quit. But after 15 minutes and some solid food, I felt better, mentally and physically. That is when my race finally began in earnest. I continued with the same drink cocktail and supplemented with some solid food after each lap or two. My lap times stayed fairly consistent, with a few longer rests thrown in so that I didn’t go back down the path from earlier in the day. I think that once my mind was back in the race, the Hammer products helped tremendously. I experienced no more abdominal cramping and no muscular cramping at all. My urine output was steady and not too dark (important since I run on one kidney), and my energy levels remained normal (as normal as can be expected in a 24 hour race).
For me, this race was all about adapting to the cards I was dealt. I wasn’t happy about not being able to contend more aggressively for the Stars and Stripes jersey, but I was pleased to be in a position to podium without having my day of days. I was also happy to bounce back from being mentally out of the race after only five hours. I knew the next 19 hours would be long, but not as long as the next year if I would have quit.
Wise words indeed . . . a year of regret must be worse than 19 hours of pain. Only the superhuman contingent can ride flawlessly for 24 hours (congrats to winner Josh Tostado and second place finisher Kelly Magelky for riding an insane 268 miles each); I think overcoming adversity is just as commendable. Losing a bottle on a hot afternoon lap would be tough, and it took awhile for him to bounce back. An interesting trick that Cary employed was his “supplement slurry.” Cary’s support crew would pull apart Endurolytes, Anti-Fatigue Caps, Race Caps, and other Hammer supplements and add to his 1:1 mix of Sustained Energy and HEED. Literally an all in one bottle, this concoction fueled Cary to a great performance in his most difficult challenge to date.
Moab remains our favorite and most difficult 24-hour race of the year. We’ve learned so much about competing at our best with the complete Hammer Nutrition product line, and about the subtleties of each discipline. All of the Hammer racers hope we shared some helpful info in this blog series—we hope to see you on the trail in 2011!