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Five Nutrition Must Haves for Fueling the Marji

The Marji Gesick (referred to “Marji” for short) is a race that is happening in my hometown this weekend. Mountain bikers have the option to bike 100, 50 or 15 miles and runners have the option to run 100 or 50 miles. It is self supported. This means you have to have all your nutrition on your body or bike. There aren't organized aid stations that are offered at other events. Sometimes, members of the community will set up aid stations along the course but the race directors encourage participants not to rely on this #trailmagic.

I have friends, family and clients competing in this race and I often get asked the million-dollar question

“What do I eat?”

The question is simple and complicated. My initial response is


but that includes a disclaimer that the types of carbohydrates, what foods you eat, the amount you eat, the frequency you eat or drink them in is unique to each individual. For those of you hoping to find the secret to a solid nutrition plan, you’re about two months too late.

Whether you are riding or running, an epic race like the Marji requires a solid nutrition plan. This is something that needs to be well thought out and practiced during your long rides and maybe even a night ride if you like to plan in advance. The 100 mile racers can earn belt buckles for finishing in under 12 hours for the bike and 28 hours for the run. Even with a dawn start time, the 100 mile bikers who earn a belt buckle will be outriding the sun as they need to finish before sunset.

So what should you bring to fuel a race like the Marji? Let me give it to you straight so you don't have to text Danny or Todd with the Q word (#quitter).

1. Water. Be sure to have a hydration pack on your back or in your bike bag. How much water you carry depends on the size of the hydration bladder but in the world of hydration, the bigger the better!

2. Hydration/Electrolyte Mix. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan's weather can be fickle in September. A howling north wind can change the temperature in an instant or you might be lucky enough to experience a 90 degree summer-esque kind of day! Either way, you want to make sure you have a hydration mix that contains carbohydrates (energy) and electrolytes. My favorite is SkratchLabs SuperFuel.

3. Real food. Don't think you're going to get through riding for a good portion of the day (or THE entire day) without food that resembles what you eat when you're not riding. This could mean fruit (including dehydrated), trial mix, potato chips, pretzels, a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, coca cola, beef jerkey, a burrito! If you have had it before or during a ride, bring it along!

4. Portable nutrition. Packing food items that are high in carbohydrates and convenient to eat can cut down the amount of time that you are stopping to consume food. This could include energy bars (my favorite is the Ah, Fudge Nuts! Picky Bar and just think every time you get to a section where you have to hike-a-bike you can yell "Ah! Fudge Nuts!") or pouches (applesauce, yogurt, even baby food!).

5. Chocolate. Yes, a registered dietitian is telling you to bring yourself a treat. Treat yourself at the top of every climb, every mile and definitely every time you want to #blametodd or #blamedanny.

If you pack your bike with many many servings of these five things, I can promise you one thing, you won't be blaming me.

Are you racing the Marji? Do you have a last minute nutrition question? Email me at and I am happy to give you my thoughts.

Have I inspired you to create a solid nutrition plan for next year? I have openings to work with you on your nutrition plan! You can request an appointment on my website by clicking here. There is nothing I love more than helping athletes fuel for an epic race like the Marji. I might even offer to come help you organize your pack! Good luck to all the racers and fuel well!


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