Sunday, October 09, 2005

No Bonking Zone

Today was the Chicago Marathon in which 40,000 runners competed either to win, make a new personal record, or just finish. I wasn't there; bad knees, and all. I have personally made a significant contribution to the college funds of the children of several orthopedic surgeons and a raft of physical therapists. That is why I now ride a bike rather than run. But, due to a serious downpour, I did not complete the 100-mile ride I had planned for the end of September. Thus, I am feeling envious of the marathoners who finished today. In particular, that means you, P.

P is the runner I turned on to Gu when he decided to train for his first marathon. I think that makes me kind of a legal sugar pusher. He finished today at about 4 hours, 34 minutes. For 26.2 miles, that is something to be proud of.

For those of you who don't know, Gu is a concentrated carbohydrate gel. When competing in endurance events, Gu comes in very handy to prevent the dreaded and embarrassing bonk. Runners and cyclists bonk when they completely deplete the reserves of fuel in their muscles and blood. The liver can't replenish the supply fast enough. What's left is a very inefficient process of trying to burn fat. It won't work and the runner will eventually collapse after suffering weakness and nausea possibly followed by vomiting and hallucinations. Ahh, the glory of long distance sports!

The trick, of course, is to eat properly throughout the event. Enter Gu. When cycling distances, I try and eat one every hour and half or so. Should the Gu folks read this endorsement of their very fine product, I prefer the Just Plain variety with vanilla being a close second. Eating it is quite pleasant. It is very similar to swallowing a mouthful of frosting or pudding. The small amount of caffeine in it is also helpful.

I think it might be a reasonably successful business model to travel around the country with a supply of Gu selling it at grossly inflated prices to tired looking runners and cyclists as they pass by. I could set up a little table along a bike or running path with a sign reading "Bonking? GU $5 each" and probably do just fine. If I toss in a cup of warm tap water for another $1, I'd be sitting pretty. This sounds like a franchise opportunity. Isn't this how the FedEx guy and Michael Dell got their starts? One problem is that runners don't tend to carry much cash. Hmmmm. I need to work on this a bit more. Perhaps I can take credit cards.

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