Drink Stations

The Melbourne Marathon is aiming to be international level event. They are offering some reasonable prize money, it is host to the National, State and University championships. They are even offering extra support for some athletes. However, I believe they've missed getting one of the key fundamentals right.

It is important to get the drink stations correct. After all, race nutrition and hydration is so important during the marathon. Initially they were going to provide only Powerade NO SUGAR as the sports drink: ie. no liquid carbohydrate source during the race. This changed after plenty of complaints. Now they are providing Powerade Isotonic, which is a 6% carbohydrate and exactly what should be provided. However, the problem is there is no consistency as to when this is provided. I was hoping for it to be provided at every aid station (approximately each 2.5km) or at the least, every second station (5km). This is not the case. Instead there are varying gaps, and no pattern that can be remembered during the race. In the middle of the race there is 11.5km where there is no liquid carbohydrate available.

To me this defies all advice given for racing a marathon. Instead GU gels are provided at most drink stations, but for some reason the sports drink isn't. I tried bringing this to the race organiser's attention, but received a reply that simply said it was difficult to please everyone, and I should take advantage of the Personal Refreshments stations on course. There are four. With the entry at it the price it is, and the attempt to lift the race's standing nationally and internationally I would expect they would be able to provide a sports drink consistently throughout the race.

As a result, my nutrition plan is a little removed from my ideal, but I have practiced it over the last couple of long runs. At aid stations where there is Powerade Isotonic, I'll consume two cups worth, giving me approximately 10g of carbohydrate each time. Then for the 11.5km section without Powerade, I'll have with me my Peak Fuel gel to provide about 40g. I'll remember this section as the area out and back along Beaconsfield Parade. Adding some sports drink at about 15min prior to race start (15g CHO), this should see about 50g/hr of carbohydrate consumed during the race. For the drink stations without Powerade, I'll have 1/2-1 cup of water depending on conditions.
The mathematics works. I've practiced it. It should work.


  1. I wondered about that exact gap myself too. And what's with an aid station at 42.1km?? (Must be a mistake.) Race well. Paul :-)


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