We love receiving emails from athletes who use Precision Fuel & Hydration products and we were stoked to hear about Chris Justice's success story at the Leadville Trail Marathon.
Chris got in touch after struggling with hydration issues over longer-distances in the past and his story is our June 2021 TriumPH of the Month...
Dear Greg, Sean and Team,
I wanted to update you on my use of Precision Hydration over the weekend at the Leadville Trail Marathon...
My ultra background
For a quick background, I've been struggling with hydration and nutrition at the ultra level for a long time. My sweat rate is excessively high and it has always been a challenge to stay even minimally hydrated during events lasting more than four hours or so. To make matters worse, about eight years ago I had to start taking a semi-weekly antibiotic for a chronic condition.
The lone side-effect of this particular antibiotic is that it makes me more sensitive to sun and heat, which compounds the problem exponentially. At the marathon, 50K and 50-mile distance, all of which I have done many times, I had learned to just accept that I was going to finish those races in an extremely dehydrated and ill-feeling state. The key was that I did finish those races and actually was able to post some age-group wins along the way.
Issues that one experiences in regards to dehydration in the distances up to 50 miles become race-enders at the 100-mile distance. This is something I have learned the hard way during my six 100-mile attempts (Leadville 2010, 2011, 2019 Run Rabbit Run 2018, Georgia Jewell 2018, Sangre de Cristo 100 2020). I'm 0-6 in those races, never having made it more than 55 miles, mostly always due to extreme dehydration.
In the past couple of years, the problem has seemed to get worse, making racing less and less enjoyable. Finishing Leadville has become something of a quest and this year the plan was for me to either finish it or retire from the 100's altogether.
I ran a lead-up 12-hour mountain race in May that didn't go as well as I had hoped, again due to the improper fluid and fueling. I was feeling quite low and dejected after that race and really started to think that maybe I just wasn't built physiologically for those longer distances.
I had heard of PH in the last nine months and I mentioned it to my coach, Duncan Callahan, who agreed with the science behind it, as well as the logic behind not combining my hydration and caloric intake for the most part (I had previously tried other products that combine carb and electrolytes, which I had thought might be the answer but turned out not to be).
I tried a Starter Pack after taking the online Sweat Test and hadn't fully committed until I had a video chat with Sean. He gave me some great info and answered all of my questions.
I followed up with some further questions and Greg was extremely helpful in getting back to me and helping me sort out my plan for my next big tune-up race, the Leadville Trail Marathon.
The race features nearly 12,000ft of vertical gain and loss, all above 10,000 feet. It's an ultra masquerading as a marathon.
Leadville Trail Marathon
Driving up to Leadville I wasn't feeling very confident about the race at all. I have had a series of ten or so races over the past few years, including those aforementioned 100's, Pikes Peak Marathon in 2020 and other timed ultra events, that had just not gone well.
Although I had committed to using PH (along with waffles and gels for my caloric intake) and had used it in training, I had not truly been tested beyond about the 3-hour mark. A bad race would truly make me rethink my return to Leadville in August for my 4th attempt. I kind of half-expected to be driving home on Saturday night dejected from a bad race and, to add insult to injury, feeling ill from the effects of dehydration.
Well, the reason for this now-lengthy email and narrative is to tell you that my race on Saturday couldn't have gone any better.
I knew that I was ready physically but that the derailment would happen in the same form and at the same time as usual. I summited at 13,400 feet at the turn-around in just over three hours and was just waiting with dread for the usual signs of 'the beginning of the end' (and, at the marathon distance, the dreaded death march home).
I felt very strong at the turn and had zero GI or hydration issues of note. I was drinking one 20 oz. bottle of PH 1500 plus one bottle of regular water every hour and supplementing it with one waffle and one gel (depending on how I felt). I added probably 15 oz of Ginger Ale at the aid stations.
I purposely held back from truly "racing" as I actually wanted to be out there longer to see how this new plan and new product would work. As I began the return home from the top, and with at least two more big climbs to come, I stuck to the plan pretty religiously and kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the floor to drop out.
Somehow, magically, I got to the finish in one piece.
It was a hard race for sure but I felt strong the whole way. I finished in the upper 40% and, best of all, could function, eat and drink, immediately following the race.
I wouldn't have to crawl to the medical tent for multiple IV's like after Pikes last year and the LT100 in 2019. I wouldn't have to lay motionless in the bushes feeling like death, unable to move or ingest anything for hours, like at other races. I could actually socialize with my fellow racers and friends, enjoy the free meal and, most importantly, the free beer.
I honestly couldn't remember the last time I finished a race of marathon distance or greater when I was able to do any of those things until the next day at best. To say that I was happy on the drive home is an understatement.
Moving forward to the next level of training as we approach eight weeks out from race day back in Leadville, my confidence level is extremely high and I have Precision Hydration to thank.
Not only the actual product, but your wonderful dedicated and knowledgeable staff.
I'm very, very hopeful that PH will level the playing field for me and allow me to focus on getting through the rest of the 100-mile pitfalls.
If I don't make it to the finish I'd prefer it be due to breaking a leg or something of that sort rather than dehydration slowly forcing me down to a mumbling shell of myself, crawling to my final aid station to officially log my DNF.
With PH on my side I'm ready to tackle this thing once and for all and come home with a buckle. I'll keep you posted.
Sincerely, Chris Justice
Good luck for the Leadville 100 Chris, let us know how you get on!