How Pro Athletes fuel to a Comrades Marathon Gold Medal

32Gi Team - 1 September 2022

How Pro Athletes fuel to a Comrades Marathon Gold Medal

C
omrades Marathon, saw The Return in 2022. Known as the Ultimate Human Race, it was following a 3-year hiatus. 32Gi has a proud history of fuelling many winners, and over 100 Gold Medallists since 2010. 2022, saw another 9 Golds.

Adele Broodryk, was the third woman, and first South African, to cross the line. It was the culmination of a lifelong goal for Broodryk. “Comrades Marathon, the ultimate human race, stretching over 90km, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. This was a lifelong dream of mine to run one day. I never imagined getting a Top 10 position on debut. What to say about a top three position, or being the first South African lady to cross the finish line?"

"This is the accomplishment that I’m the proudest of. Being the first lady, as this is a proudly South African race. This would not have been possible without the crowds. There wasn’t a kilometre that went by that we didn’t have cheers from the sides.”

In the men’s race, three-time champion Bong’musa Mthembu finished fourth. While Nkosikhona Mhlakwana stormed home in sixth place. It’s been agonising wait for redemption, having seen cramp strike at the eleventh hour, to deny him a gold in 2019.

“I’m happy the way the race went. That moment of 11th place in 2019 for my first Up Run, it was wiped away when I came home in the 6th place for my first Gold Medal. For me, that was the greatest moment ever in my running.”

How Nkosikhona fuelled to success

From a fuelling perspective, Mhlakwana had a two-pronged approach to his energy requirements. This included reducing the risk of muscle fatigue (due to gluconeogenesis). “I’m so happy with my fuelling strategy. I was using 32Gi Recover during the race. Most people fail to understand the importance of protein during an endurance event. But it’s very important. I started to take Recover at the 50km mark. That’s where the body needs to be well recovered for the next 40km.”

“From a Sports Drink perspective, normally I use 32Gi Race. But this time around I was fuelling myself with 32Gi Endure. I think the Endure for me, was connecting better with my body. Whenever I’m sipping it, or whenever I’m drinking it, I feel more energy. I feel more energised. That’s what I normally feel.”

No cramping struck down the man known as Khasta. He had a plan to avoid that too. “I also consumed the 32Gi Cramp Assalt. I had those throughout.”

Fuelling doesn’t start during the race! Khasta had two great products he used in and around his training. “I drink the electrolytes, the 32Gi Hydrate tabs. I take them, to help replenish electrolytes in my body. Those are the very important.”

And his other trick? “The 32Gi Protein is so wonderful. After the training, I’m drinking it. Even during the day, I was also drinking it. It’s so good, it’s more like food.”

Khasta runs for the Hollywoodbets Athletics Club. He ran the 2022 Comrades in Adidas’ Adizero Adios PRO 3.

How Adele fuelled her way to a Top 3

My fuelling plan, how did that look like over the 90km? I tried to consume something every 5km. The general guideline is that you consume something every 30 to 45 minutes. So, I said every 5km I want to consume something. To keep the blood glucose levels nice and stable, and to give me the needed energy as well, when going over 90 minutes.” 

Broodryk, coached by the Comrades Coach Lindsey Parry, had great fuelling support network. This was via the seconding the Murray & Roberts Running Club's on-route support. “I divided every 5km segment in a fuelling station. That also broke the whole race up for me into 18 segments. It helped for me to work from segment to segment.” 

“So, I started off with Cramp Assalt. I consumed or alternated between Cramp Assalt, and 32Gi Sports Gels. I took a few 32Gi G-Shots when entering the hills. As part of my energy strategy, I also took three 32Gi Race Pro bottles during the race and four Endure. For added electrolytes, I had two Hydrate bottles, that we mixed before going into the race.” 

Getting ill before the Comrades Marathon is major concern of all athletes. Broodryk had a great immune system optimisation strategy to avoid this. “Before the race, three weeks leading up to the race, I took 32Gi Immunize. I did this every single morning to keep my immune system healthy and strong.” It paid off, as did her entire fuelling strategy. 

Her entire race strategy was near perfect. Constant glances at her Suunto Peak 9 kept her on track with Coach Parry’s instructions. Despite the toughness of the race, Broodryk’s radiant smile was a constant throughout. Her running shoes of choice were the Asics Metaspeed Sky.

As a club, Murray & Roberts had a fantastic Comrades. Four women’s gold medals included a second for Jenna Challenor, who finished fourth. Meanwhile, Lutendo Mapoto claimed the club’s first men’s gold. 

A global must do bucket list event

The Comrades Marathon is one of the biggest sporting events on the South African calendar. But, you’d be hard pressed to find an Ultra Marathon like it anywhere in the world. With a 12-hour cut-off, it is also an attainable goal for most runners. 

The race draws big international numbers too. 2022 saw Xmiles founder, Anthony Clark, run under the magical six-hour mark. Clark, finished twentieth, having been mentored by 2018 third place finisher, Steve Way. 

The 32Gi fuelled Gold Medal winners were…

WOMEN
3. Adele Broodryk – M&R Running Club - 06:26:35
4. Jenna Challenor - M&R Running Club - 06:42:14
8. Janie Grundling - M&R Running Club - 06:59:44
9. Annerie Wooding - M&R Running Club - 06:59:55
10. Yolande Maclean - M&R Running Club - 07:00:19

MEN
4. Bong’musa Mthembu – Arthur Ford Superior - 05:38:07
6. Nkosikhona Mhlakwana – Hollywoodbets Athletics - 05:43:28
9. Charles Tjiane – Maxed Elite Running Club - 05:47:04
10. Lutendo Mapoto - M&R Running Club - 05:47:20

Want to know how to fuel your next Ultra?

Ultra (Comrades) Marathon fuelling guide (download here)