Hammer Ambassador Douglas Pickard, 100miler victory fueled by Hammer Nutrition
Douglas Pickard (UTD 100miler 1st place - 22:02:56)
"15 minutes before the start I drank a 500ml HEED and took a Hammer Gel. I also started with a FIZZ in a bottle in my hand and a 3-hour bottle of Perpetuem and a HEED/FIZZ mix in my pack.
The day before I sat down with my wife Jade, and we calculated how long we thought I would be between each aid station. Jade would then adjust my Perpetuem bottle with how I was doing; if slower than what we calculated she would increase the dosage but never less than what we estimated. My idea was to finish a 500ml bottle with a FIZZ hourly and every 4 to 6 hours add a HEED with the FIZZ bottle.
The race pace actually surprised me at the start with everyone taking a slow jog out the starting block. Right off the bat I started sipping on my hand-held FIZZ bottle and about 30 min in started sipping Perpetuem. Throughout the race I just sipped on these every once in a while, and while there was no specific time, I targeted to have a certain amount, I would try to finish my bottle of Perpetuem by the next check point. If not, I would down the remainder at the CP where Jade had my new one for the next leg.
Race pace in the beginning was around 5:30 to 6 min a km which felt good and was working well with my timing and Perpetuem bottles. When we got to Sani Stone Lodge, I knew all the big climbs were ahead and I didn’t want to be caught out feeling hungry so I asked Jade to mix me a meal replacement, Hammer PHOOD, which I downed.
Throughout the climb up Black Mountain I felt strong and continuously sipped on both my FIZZ and Perpetuem bottle and also a HEED/FIZZ mix. At the top of Black Mountain, I got my next bottle from Jade and decided to try some chips. I put one chip in my mouth and put the rest down as didn’t feel I needed this extra solid food. I had my longest Perpetuem bottle from the top of Black Mountain as this would need to carry me up Mount Thaba Ntlenyana and then all the way to the Sani backpacker. Once there I could use my drop bag as Jade had to go down before the border closed! Throughout this period, I felt strong and decided to keep between 6 and 6:30 per km pace on the flatter stuff and the uphill’s a fast walk or shuffle and on any down hills to open the legs a bit.
At the top of Thaba I was cold and keen to get down, and the guys up there told me that Simon Tshabalala was over an hour ahead. I told myself that Simon was too far ahead to catch so I should just stick to my comfortable pace. I tried to run down quite fast to get out the cold but by now the rain was coming down properly and it was very slippery. I took quite a few wipe-outs so ended up going a lot slower and more cautiously making this, what I feel, my slowest part of the run. On this stretch it was the only time I finished my Perpetuem bottle quiet far before the next CP. I did however feel fine the whole way.
At the Sani Back Packers, I decided not to waste time refilling bottles and asked for a cup of soup to warm up. I took a few sips of the soup but didn’t feel like I needed it so I left that on the table. I did then refill my bottles and wanted to move on but I asked someone to put my Perpetuem bottle under the tap as I had spilt some powder down the side and didn’t want the bottle to get sticky. While they did this, they somehow loosened the top and spilled most of my Perpetuem out, so what should have been a 4 hour plus bottle ended up probably being an hour bottle!! I didn’t stress to much as I also had another HEED/FIZZ mix to take.
Running down Sani Pass I let loose until 12 Apostles which almost killed me! I really struggled through this section in the dark until Salt and Pepper CP. I was told Simon was still an hour ahead so never I put any more thought into catching him and stuck to a pace that felt comfortable. During this time, I found I wasn’t drinking a 500ml FIZZ bottle hourly but probably every 1.5 to 2 hours a bottle. It was colder and I think my pace was slower.
When I reached Waterfall CP, by the hotel, I had not had the Perpetuem I wanted from the top but I fine felt nutrition wise. However, knowing that I had missed a lot of nutrition coming down I asked Jade to mix me another Hammer PHOOD which I downed quickly. From here I knew I would see Jade at the checkpoints and she would have my bottles all ready… happy days, as this makes all the difference having one less thing to worry about.
From here things were going smoothly and I stuck to a comfortable pace as I knew there was still a long way to go and I got back to occasionally sipping both bottles. At the next CP, the guys told me that Simon had come through 40min ahead which surprised me as it meant I had gained 20 min. I knew there was still a long way to go and decided not to try catch him but stick to a comfortable pace and to see what happens as the race went on.
At the Old Hatchery CP, the person told me that Simon had come through only 20 min before me and this is where I decided that maybe there was a chance to catch him and decided to push a bit harder. I caught up with him not far after the CP. We both ran together at what I feel was a steady pace with not much walking anywhere. Throughout this time, I continuously sipped on my two bottles except for a little less on my FIZZ bottle, as I didn’t want to stop to refill and let Simon pull away.
We both pulled into Drak Gardens together and Jade told me she had mixed my Perpetuem bottle to carry me to the end. This was so I could avoid stopping again to refill and also the road was in a bad way for her to get to the last checkpoint. Simon and I pulled out of Drak Gardens together. It is a slight incline out of Drak Gardens and I thought that if I could pull away this would have to be the time. I pushed hard and slowly Simon dropped back. When we were back on the trails there was another climb, which I decided I needed to push. I dug down deep and ran up the climb thinking to myself that if Simon takes his time up, I will be able to put a gap while he climbs and I go down the other side.
I know how fast Simon is so I continued to push on any inclines and open up on the downhills to try keep a gap. Not once did I ever feel safe to get off the pace as I always thought he was pushing to and would catch me. During this section of pushing, I was sipping a lot on my FIZZ bottle as I felt I needed the extra electrolytes to keep pushing but, to avoid me stopping to long, whenever I got to a river, I would scoop some water in a cup and carry on running.
At the last CP, I made my last FIZZ bottle and was almost out of Perpetuem but didn’t worry about that as it was only 8km to go. Again, I did not stop, whenever I could run I would. On the steep climbs I would walk as fast as I could and, on the downhills, I would go as fast as my legs could carry me. Whilst doing this I kept to my strategy of sipping out of the streams and sucking quite often on my FIZZ bottle.
Only once I had reached 3km to the finish did I feel that this race was most likely mine but even then, I was not going to take a chance and let off the pace.
When I finally crossed the finish line my legs were dead, I was dead, but overall felt pretty good and thought not once had I needed anything extra.
I only ate my first solid food about 2 hrs after finishing and even then, it was a few hot chips, the kids ate most of them but I didn’t feel I needed anything extra.
The Perpetuem carried me from start to finish while feeling good the whole way. It was by far the longest I have ever run on a liquid only as before I had only done a few training runs with Perpetuem."
Hammer Nutrition fuelled athletes took a clean sweep of the podium in the 100miler. (1st Place: Douglas Pickard - new record; 2nd Place: Simon Tshabalala; 3rd Place: Justin Oelofsen)