Athletes engaged in fell running, peak bagging and ultramarathons have achieved a mythical status among endurance runners. These top athletes do not garner much attention from the press and most members of the public will only recognize ultramarathon runners as marathon runners with an “ultra-” appended.

Ultramarathons and fell running: tough sports

So, in practical terms, what is an ultramarathon? There are all types of ultrarunning events, generally designed to be extremely harsh. The limits of physical human capacity are seemingly pushed back at every race.

Triathlete running at MACCA Ironman Hawaii

Take the Badwater endurance run in the US: 217 kilometers in the Valley of Death, with a total vertical drop of 5,800 metres and temperatures exceeding 50°C in the (virtually unexisting) shade. Scott Jurek, like probably many others, failed to complete the challenge a few times before finally being in the razor-edge condition necessary to finish the race, and actually win it twice.

… for which nutritional strategies take an utmost importance

Extreme athletic endeavours require specific nutritional strategies. The human body is pushed to its physical limits and diet quality will have a major impact on performance.

Trying to engage in ultrarunning while eating only pizzas or steaks may have seemed like a good strategy or even a necessity for their athletic endeavours only a few years back. Of course, the ugly consequences of such an unbalanced diet quickly takes its toll. When undergoing such physical exertion, nutrition is of critical importance and nothing must left to chance. A winning runner isn’t only a runner that claims victory during one single race but an athlete that minimizes inflammation, the risk of injury and improves post-effort recovery, thus minimizing the demands on his strained body.

The current trend is to favour foods with low inflammatory or even anti-inflammatory properties – many major endurance runners are even full-blown vegans. In any case, Spirulina is also a very trendy sports supplement.

This choice is that of Scott Jurek or Brendan Brazier, two uncontested legends of ultrarunning. They take the Athlete’s alga and boast its merits, which is a rather good sign of its efficiency.

Towards a wider use of spirulina among top athletes

Geographically closer to us, the French ultrarunner Seb Chaigneau is also a consumer of Spirulina. He conquered the top rank at the Olympus Marathon as well as the Lybian Challenge, twice – running 196 kilometres in the desert in complete self-sufficiency, in non-stop of course!

My favourite example however, one that gives us the impression that we could each one day emerge as an exceptional athlete, is Rich Roll. This American athlete went from couch potato to runner of the Epic 5 in only six months. Epic 5? The idea is do toil through an Ultraman run –swimming 10 km in the open sea, biking 421 km cross-country and running 84 km on foot– five times in a single week!

I am of course not saying there is a cause-to-effect relationship but there probably was a bit of Spirulina in such a feat!

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