Fueling for VT100 Success

Post provided by Anne Rollins for QT2 Systems

Once we enter the magical land of ultra, fueling takes on a new meaning with new parameters. Typically, fueling a marathon has a framework formula that is relatively predictable, but part of the draw of the ultra, the uniqueness of the course and experience, can create a fueling challenge for even the most experienced.

Sports fueling may often be overlooked by the novice, but by the time you have enough experience to get to an ultra-distance event like the Vermont 100, you likely recognize the importance of nutrition and the impact proper fueling can have on your well trained for event. All the training will not be accessible without proper fueling, so let’s review some tips to make sure your Suburu has gas in the tank and make sure you have the best possible experience throughout your epic journey!

Our main considerations of energy and electrolytes remain constant. However, the intrigue of ultras can be the variation in locations, terrain, distance, discipline of sport and more, and The Vermont 100M/100K offer all of this and then some!

You’ll start the weekend with loads of excitement and anticipation and head to check-in and race meetings on Friday. Vermont is a rural place, and weather can create last minute changes to travel. Plan to have snacks and fluids readily available to you for check in and the meeting. If you choose to have dinner provided by the race venue, you’ll load up beginning at 5pm. Some runners are very routine about meals and may bring their own, while others may enjoy the full experience and simplicity of race provisions.

Elusive sleep can be part of the journey, but whether you’ve counted sheep or sawed logs, you’ll be up early for the 100M. (100K gets a few extra hours to sleep in).

Getting some last carbs in the tank about 3 hours pre-race is beneficial. For the 100M, this will mean a wake up around 1am. Make a decision. If you expect to sleep lightly in anticipation, you may choose to get some carbs at around 1am and let the carb coma lull you back to sleep for a few hours. If you think getting up to eat at 1am may keep you awake and rob you of precious sleep, maybe consider getting up on the earlier side for check in that begins at 3am and get in some fuel then.

100M’ers, take in some last carbs about 30 minutes prior to start at 4am, as you move away from the hopefully slumbering 100K’ers.

100K’ers, follow the same guidance, just a few hours later.

For the duration of the race, you want to try to mimic as close to what has worked for you in your rehearsals. The ‘fun’ part is seeing the trails, the weather and making any adjustments as needed.

There are specific crew meet ups/aid stations and all of these are manned, have handler access, bag drops and porta potties. You are allowed one pacer, but there is no ‘muling’ allowed. Your pacer cannot carry food or drink for you, or run ahead to fill your bottles. Should you forego a crew, you can have your bags dropped with your supplies at these stations. Whether you use a crew or drop bags, creating a list of what you specifically anticipate needing for each aid station will be most helpful.

PRO TIP: Race directors reserve the right to make adjustments, so pay attention at the athlete meeting and any emails or guides provided to you for the most up to date information.


Calories – Competing in an ultra requires a significant amount of calories, and while carbohydrates are important, an ultra distance will require a specific amount of protein and fat calories and electrolyte repletion. Too much protein and fat and you may risk GI upset; too little and you’re under fueled. Train not only your legs and mind, but your gut.

Hydration – Staying hydrated not only replaces electrolytes that we lose through sweat but also helps us to maintain temperature regulation which is more important during ultras as we expect a temperature shift from night to full sun, elevation changes, and then just actual weather. Use products that offer electrolytes, such as Base Salts. Monitor your fluids in and fluids out through urination. Lack of urination can be a sign of dehydration.

Create an aid station list. For The Vermont 100M, aid stations are at miles 21.2, 30.5, 47.4, 58.7, 69.4, 76.5, 88.2, 94.5. Think logically about what you will need at each and organize accordingly. This is most critical if you are dropping bags, but organization in your crew van can make a difference. Remember, you may not always be clear headed or in a good mood, and moving a t-shirt may seem like an insurmountable task. (The aid stations are the same stations for the 100K but fall at different mile markers on that course.)


Two days before race (Thursday)

● Eliminate excessive fiber and hard to digest foods.

● Focus on hydration.

● Pack in carbohydrates.

Day before race (Friday)

● Have a very large, carbohydrate heavy breakfast.

● Focus on easy fats and proteins throughout the day – peanut butter, coconut, granola bars.

● Don’t stuff yourself, but almost.


Race day (Saturday)

● Top off the tank 1am or 2:45am – sleep choice, dependent.

● 30 minutes pre-race – 25g carbs

● During the race – the amount of carbs you require will be dependent on your size, previous carb consumption during training, and the terrain. Most athletes will fall in the 40-60g of well-balanced carbohydrates per hour (meaning a balance of sports drink, semi-solids and solids)


The best laid plans can get away from you in an ultra, and nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are an unfortunate not uncommon result. While nausea may prohibit you from taking in vital nutrients, vomiting and diarrhea will leave you with even less. Clearly something to avoid, but if it happens, don’t panic. Take a beat, lower your heart rate (it’s probably already lowered if you are vomiting) and work to slowly replete your fluids and calories.


Post-race (Sunday)

● Celebrate! But, before you celebrate too much, get in a few items to help recovery.

● A good recovery drink can help decrease (not eliminate!) fatigue and muscle soreness. A 4:1 carbohydrate:protein ratio is a good general choice.

● Glutamine and Vitamin C have likely been depleted so grab a supplement. Adding these to your recovery drink can help minimize what you need to remember in a post ultra haze.

● Looks for some easily digestible carbs and electrolyte repletion.

● Don’t be tempted by the double cheeseburgers (or your favorite vegan splurge) right away. Your brain may get really excited, but your body and digestive system may not be up to the task. Choose easily digestible foods in small amounts before giving into the bacon, egg and cheese chili burrito.

Enjoy your accomplishments while sipping a celebratory Athletic Brewing Company beverage and relish in your well fueled event!


Anne Rollins CSSD MS RD LDN is a dietitian with The Core Diet/QT2Systems brands and an ultra athlete.

« Back to all posts