Coast to Coast: Blackcurrant for Muscle Recovery

Guest Blog: David Galbraith & Fiona Dowling 

The “longest day” – 140km cycle, 33km mountain run, 70km of kayak. 12 – 18 hours, from Kumara Beach on the West Coast to New Brighton Beach on the East.

This race takes a massive toll on your body. Think, 2.5km sprint off the beach – 6am, dark, cold muscles, low oxygen intake onto a 55km cycle predominantly uphill, first hour in the dark pushing big watts followed by a true mountain run. Continuous, relentless rocks, boulders, tree roots, 20 odd waist deep river crossings, freezing water and a climb to Goats Pass, over 1000 metres elevation. With legs cramping, fatigue setting in and after thinking for the tenth time “why am I doing this?”, comes a short 15km cycle to a 70km grade 2+ kayak down the Waimakariri river with multiple rapids, bluffs, boils, anything and everything to test your mental and physical state after already racing for over 8 hours.

The most technical part of the race, with the river pumping along at about 90 cubic metres per second, high winds, dust clouds blowing over you and, in your eyes, missing your race line is not an option. You don’t want to be swimming at this stage, the rivers are cold, you have very limited back-up dry gear. After a further 5 hours of sitting in one spot in amongst some “unpleasant liquid” (there’s no stopping to pee), in only a waist width, 6 metre long skinny boat, butt is aching, shoulders screaming, legs no longer functioning you arrive at Gorge bridge to start the 70km cycle into the finish. Getting out of the kayak is a hell of a struggle (this is where the support crew really earn their Sheffield pie). It normally takes a while to get your legs working again.

This year was different, our legs felt great. The last ride home was the easiest its ever been, picking off people along the road, hunting one down after the other. Even after 2 hours of riding the blood circulation and oxygen into our muscles was amazing. Like nothing we have ever experienced before.

Nearly a quarter of the field didn’t finish, whether it be because of hypothermia, extreme fatigue, beaten by the conditions or not meeting cut-off times.

There was only one thing we did different in our nutrition this year. Take a daily shot of Barker’s Unsweetened Blackcurrant Juice. We use it to recover faster and increase the oxygen throughout our muscles so we can go smash out hard training sessions day after day. On race day we believe it also gave us an edge in our mental ability, to stay focused, our tiredness and fatigue was noticeably less.

Of course, we use other nutrition, but nothing that we haven’t used before. We feel the Blackcurrant juice contributed to our well-being on the day under very difficult conditions. We don’t know of any other natural (and legal) product that outperforms.

Although the above sounds awful and “why would you do it?”, it’s the greatest, most unique race in the world. You can’t just imagine the feeling of racing from one side of the country to the other in a day (or there is the 2-day option also). But actually, there is something better. The preparation, discussions, training and some of the most awesome people you’ll ever meet along the way.

We thank Barker’s immensely for all their support.

Fiona Dowling – Sports Physiotherapist
David Galbraith – Senior Food Technologist