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Finsty's Leadville 100 Fuelling Plan

Neversecond athlete and top off-road racer Russell Finsterwald shares his fuelling plan for Leadville 100.

Russell Finsterwald is a self-described "Mountain Biker with a Gravel Problem." A full-time mountain biker until 2017 when he discovered gravel, Russell is one of a small group of two-wheeled pioneers that are at the forefront of the American off-road scene that is about versatility as much as it is about performance. Originally from Colorado, Leadville holds a special place for Russell. He knows high-altitude - how to train for it, how to fuel for it and how to race in it. We asked Russell how he gets ready for a high altitude race like Leadville - and he was happy to share.


Build-Up Training Blocks

"When I am getting ready for a race like Leadville, I pay a bit more attention to my iron intake. I make sure to get in two red meat meals per week and to eat a lot of leafy greens like spinach and kale, and vegetables during the heavy training blocks in the weeks before I start my taper. I also make sure to really take it easy on my recovery weeks."


3-4 Days Out

"I start my carb loading early. Nothing crazy or extreme. I just add a bowl of cereal and start to reduce my fibre intake. Reducing fibre is important in the final days to prevent GI problems. I also start to increase my lunch and dinner portions - typically just an extra helping of what I normally eat. I also make sure to monitor my hydration. Peeing on the clearer side is a good indicator."


1 Day Before

"My parents have a high altitude cabin that I use as my training base during my Leadville build-up which is near 9,000'. I head down to Colorado Springs to 6,000' two days before the race to ensure I sleep well and fully recover for race day. I continue to carb load and stay hydrated. A lot of athletes think carb loading is eating piles of carbs. My intake is about 25% more than normal as glycogen levels are also building from my taper - and it's more about what I am eating and what I am not eating much of. At this point, I am not eating any fibrous vegetables and I'm focused more on carbohydrate-rich meals that are a bit more processed - like bagels, pasta and pancakes. I also sip on sports drink throughout the day to top off."


Race Morning

"Since the race starts early, I get up especially early to have some breakfast and coffee. My tried-and-true morning of breakfast is a large pancake with yogurt, peanut butter and maple syrup. I need 2 cups of coffee to get the cobwebs out so that I am ready to roll from the starting line."


15 Minutes Before Start

"I take 1 x C30 Energy Gel 15 minutes before the start to top off my glycogen. I sip a bit of water as well to ensure I am fully topped off on fluids - maybe 3-4 oz. I use the regular gels and not the caffeinated ones at start since I have already had plenty of coffee - about 200mg - already in my system."


Race Fuelling & Hydration

"There are 4 key aid stations that we use on this out-and-back course for fuel and hydration support - Pipeline 1, Twin Lakes 1, Twin Lakes 2 and Pipeline 2. This allows me to race light. I calculate my fuel and hydration needs based on my anticipated time to next station (since fuelling and hydration are largely dependent on duration and intensity). Then we stock each aid station with exactly what I will need - plus a little extra just in case. I race almost exclusively on gels and drink mix for Leadville. I may take an C30 Fuel Bar as well - but overall I keep it very simple (even simpler than I normally do) at altitude. With my drink mixes, I add in 500mg of sodium by table salt. I am a heavy sodium sweater (about 1500mg loss per hour), so I have to supplement a little bit to replace most of what I lose."


Start to Pipeline

Approximate Duration: 1:45
Fuel Intake: 150g Carbohydrate
Fluid Intake: 1.5 Litres

"I will take 60 per hour by bottle and 30g per hour by gels for a total of 90g per hour. I use 2 scoops of C30 Sports Drink in 2 x 750ml bottles to hit my 60g of fuel by bottle. I take the gels at 0.30 and 1:15."


Pipeline to Twin Lakes

Approximate Duration: 0:50
Fuel Intake: 90g Carbohydrate
Fluid Intake: 750ml

"I'll take an additional 750ml bottle mixed with 2 scoops of C30 Sports Drink (60 grams from bottle) and 1 x C30 Energy Gel."


Twin Lakes to Columbine to Twin Lakes

Approximate Duration: 1:15
Fuel Intake: 120g Carbohydrate
Fluid Intake: 1.25 Litres

"I take a 500ml and a 750ml bottle, each mixed to 60g of carbohydrate concentration along with 1 x C30 Gel and 1 x C30+ Caffeine Gel. The caffeinated gel contains 75mg of caffeine and gives me a little boost. It is really important to stay hydrated and well-fuelled as I prepare for the final push. Not staying on top of things now can lead to problems later."


Twin Lakes to Pipeline

Approximate Duration: 0:45
Fuel Intake: 90g Carbohydrate
Fluid Intake: 750ml

"I'll take a single 750ml bottle mixed with 2 scoops of C30 Sports Drink (60 grams from bottle) and 1 x C30 Energy Gel."


Pipeline to Finish

Approximate Duration: 1:45
Fuel Intake: 150g Carbohydrate
Fluid Intake: 1.5 Litres

"I take 2 x 750ml bottles and 2 x C30 Gels at this station and down a caffeine gel or flattened Monster Energy Drink. At this point, some stomach discomfort can set in. I will typically back off a little bit and cut intake slightly if I feel any stomach issues coming on."


Post-Race Recovery

"The P30 Recovery Mix is always the most important part of my post-race recovery. I will usually wait 30 minutes or so after the finish - not right away as I am usually not able to tolerate anything right after the finish. I use 2 scoops in a shaker with some water, so it's easy to make and get in my body right after my race. A lot of protein shakes bother my stomach. P30 does not."


3 Key Takeaways From Russell

  1. Reduce your fibre intake 2-3 days before racing, and especially racing at altitude. This will really reduce you risk of developing stomach problems.
  2. Plan ahead. Review where the aid stations are and what you are able to do at each station. Bring slightly more nutrition than what you think you need just in case things go sideways.
  3. Watch your fluids more than usual. I shoot for 1 litre of fluid (2 bottles) per hour in high altitude and hot conditions. Depending on what my fuel plan is, I take my fluids in by C30 Sports Drink or by water - sometimes both.


Russell's Favourites

C30 Energy Gel: "Citrus and Passion Fruit flavours are my favourites."
C30 Sports Drink: "I like both the Citrus and Forest Berry a lot. This is my go-to-drink mix in the hot months when I need more sodium. I will use this during Leadville."
C30+ Energy Gel: "I take the Cola flavour usually 1.5 to 2 hours from the finish to give me a little boost before the fireworks start."
C30 Fuel Bar: "I use these in races now. It is the first time I can put down a bar in races and not have issues."
C90 High Carb Mix: "I use C90 during the colder months and in training. It is amazing how many carbs I can take in with C90."
P30 Recovery Mix: " I drink it after every race and training session. The best!"



Russell Finsterwald Fueling for Leadville


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Fueling for Leadville




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