The USAT Off-Road Triathlete of the Year shares how he fuels for the unique demands of the trails.
Cole Bunn, 20
Student, midshipman third class in the University of Colorado’s Naval ROTC program
2015 USAT Off-Road Triathlete of the Year, first overall amateur at 2015 XTERRA National Championship, second overall amateur at the 2015 XTERRA Southeast Championship
An athletic child, Bunn discovered a passion specifically for competitive swimming in elementary school. His grandfather (“my hero while growing up”) introduced him to his first kids’ triathlon after a few years of swimming. During high school, Bunn participated in both cross-country and swimming, and looking for a new challenge between his sophomore and junior years, he came across XTERRA. He believes his first XTERRA, Sugar Bottom, was the most painful experience of his life, but the pain and challenge were also what hooked him.
For off-road triathlons, particularly on the bike, there are often no aid stations because it’s difficult to find spots on the trail to set them up and even harder to transport everything to those spots. This requires you to be more self-reliant and more in tune with your body to know exactly what you’ll need during the race.
You need to be more strategic and decide ahead of time where you want to drink and eat because if you try to take your bottle out of its cage and drink from it during a technical section of singletrack, you could be in for a bad day.
At XTERRA Nationals, on the bike I carried two bottles of First Endurance EFS and a flask of EFS Liquid Shot, which I also took with me on the run. I sweat a lot, and the high electrolyte content of First Endurance products works well for me. Aid stations are more frequent on the run course, and I make sure I grab water or sports drink from each one, even if I just end up putting it in my mouth then spitting it out.
During training, especially on longer rides, I’m in the “real food” camp, and I usually eat small bits of sweet potato brownies and rice balls; however, during races, I stick with electrolyte drink mixes and gels because I find them easier to carry, handle and consume.
The night before a race I’ll eat pizza and some spinach, and drink beet juice. The morning of a race, I have a bagel with peanut butter and honey, a banana, Ensure and some more beet juice. About 45 minutes before race start, I sip on 6 ounces of EFS mixed with a little bit of Liquid Shot and First Endurance Pre-Race powder.