Wilderness Athlete and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Golden Gallop

I’m not much of a runner (more of a snowshoer, I guess).  I choose running as my prime workout regimen during the summer, but I don’t possess a certain finesse or flare that most runners have acquired over time.  Despite my flawed attempts at running with any dignity – I’m somewhat clumsy – I registered to participate in the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Golden Gallop on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010.  Choosing between a 5K and a 10K, I selected the latter – feeling as though I needed to brutalize myself.  As it would turn out, it became an opportunity to test some Wilderness Athlete products: an Energy & Focus drink mix to start the day, a Performance Bar before the race, an Energy Gel during the race, and a Hydrate & Recover drink mix after the race.  The combination of all four Wilderness Athlete products proved to be exactly what I needed to get through 6.2 miles of tromping around Golden, Colo.

Instead of blasting my gut with some black coffee, I started the day with the Energy & Focus drink mix.  In combination with 12 ounces of water, my Nalgene was filled with “neon-orange-liquid-goodness.”  The “Mango Bango” flavor was a tasty treat and contained a number of beneficial nutrients.  One pack provides a multitude of vitamins, Zinc, Taurine, Caffeine, Golden Root extract, Gotu Kola extract, and other performance enhancers.  That 45-calorie combination was the “zinger” I needed to motivate me: no sugar and all punch.

It was a typical Colorado morning.  The air was crisp and clean – summer still holding on, with fall around the corner.  A 10K would warm me up quickly.  Not a cloud or gust of win emerged to damper the day’s events.  It was perfect.

I chose my running shoes carefully.  On this day, I selected the Montrail Mountain Masochists (read my review, click here).  Before attaching my running bib and tightening my shoe laces, I snacked on a Wilderness Athlete Performance Bar (Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl flavor) as I focused my mind on the course ahead.  

The bar surprised me with its unique recipe.  According to the Wilderness Athlete website, every “Energy Bar has a full 1,000 milligrams of the natural anti-inflammatory nutrient glucosamine. Glucosamine helps hold moisture in joints and is involved in the production and maintenance of cartilage. This makes for smooth movement of joints and helps reduce friction in these tissues that could otherwise cause inflammation, swelling and stiffness.  Antioxidant nutrients, provided by Oolong Tea extract, Vitamin C, natural Vitamin E, and beta-carotene, help protect the body from free-radical damage induced from prolonged physical activity.”

Of course, this day wasn’t about me.  A majority of the Golden Gallop participants were there to pay homage to the many victims of pancreatic cancer.  Known as the “silent killer,” cancer of the pancreas is rarely caught in the early stages because of non-symptoms.  In fact, late-stage symptoms are still sometimes nonspecific and are varied.  Generally, pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed in the advanced stages and doesn’t always yield positive survivability rates.  I was humbled by the hundreds of people in support of family members, friends and others who suffered and died from this horrible disease.

Prior to the race, the crowd of runners, volunteers and spectators spent a moment in silence to remember the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001.  I focused my mind on the memories of that horrible day.  I will certainly never forget. 

Race time was early, approximately 7:30 a.m.  As several runners made their way to the starting line, I was fully energized and ready for every inch of the 10K.  I started strong.  And I wish I could end it there.  The first two miles were a breeze; it was miles three, four and five that handedly kicked my ass.  “Uphill” is the only word I can use to describe that segment of the race.  Golden is known for its beauty, history and beer.  I now have a thorough respect for its hills.  

It was about half way through mile four when I consumed an Energy Gel (Mountain Mocha flavor) to lift me over the last hump of the course.  The fourth mile had me running up the east side of the 6th Avenue Freeway towards the Jefferson County Courthouse.   Brutal.  The Energy Gel was a healthy hit of power that helped me sustain enough drive to complete the 10K.  During the last mile, I experienced the fabled “Runner’s High” as the Energy Gel pushed my endorphin button and I threw into high gear.  In other words, I chose not to catch the RTD bus to the finish line.  But I was tempted.  

I finished in an hour and 17 minutes.  I didn’t break any records, but I managed to run/jog the distance without stopping.  I closed my run with a Hydrate & Recover drink mix: A potent mix of Vitamin C, Thiamine, Magnesium, Schizandra Extract, Co-Enzyme, Glucosamine, and other natural vitalities.  The “Berry Blast” flavor was an appealing way to end the day.  I was quickly refreshed and ready for my Saturday ritual: mowing the lawn.  I would need an additional Energy Gel for that one.

Stay tuned to Snowshoe Magazine for more Wilderness Athlete product reviews – particularly in combination with snowshoeing and cold environments.

For more information about the Golden Gallop, visit http://www.goldengallop.org.  For more information about Wilderness Athlete, visit http://www.wildernessathlete.com.

Read Phillip Smith’s review of the Wilderness Athlete Mountain Mocha Energy Gel, click here.

Photo by Kevin Von Qualen (www.kevinvonqualen.com).  Product photos by Wilderness Athlete. 

About the author

Ryan Alford