A Racer's Secret Weapon: Flat Coke

Have you ever been around an the feed zone of a race to watch the elite racers go through? Ever notice those little bottles of dark mysterious liquid that the team service guys are passing out to their athletes? Ever perplexed by why those elite athletes are using clear or colored liquids early in the race, but the dark stuff at the end?

Here's your answer: They're drinking "Flat Coke" late in the race! I'm no scientist, but I've been around racing for about 20 years as an athlete, serviceman, and in the industry, so I'll do my best to explain.

You see, early on in an event, your blood sugar levels are fluctuating, muscles aren't overly fatigued yet, mentally you're fresh. The primary focus early on in the race is to maintain hydration and maintain glucose levels. That's why we drink water/energy drink and eat bars/gels during events.

However, you know that feeling toward the end of a long event like the Birkie, a Marathon, or a long bike race where you are simply fatigued and ready to be done? That's when it's time to pull out the secret weapon if you're so lucky - Flat Coke!

You see, Coke seems to be magical for that time when you have nothing left to give but you still have the 10 most painful minutes of a race to complete as well as a sprint in to the finish. Think about it; Coke has a lot of sugar (some would say junky sugar, but sugar no less), lots of caffeine, and it really cuts through the nasty cotton mouth you often have at this late point in the race.

Often times, an athlete will be ready to give up. After having a mouthful of Flat Coke and the adrenaline that comes from the finish of the race approaching, new life is instilled into the near bonked athlete and they're again ready to fight it out to the finish.

To flatten coke, simply pour out the Coke into a big bowl and let it sit out for several hours, (overnight before a race) so that the carbonation all goes away. This will help you avoid it fizzing up in your mouth while trying to choke it down!

Athletes racing through the feed zone at a NCAA race I watched at Soldier Hollow this January. What's in the bottle?

Never try something for the first time in a race, so first try some flat coke toward the end of a long and tough training session and see what happens. If you have the luxury of having someone feed you during your next long race, maybe they'll be handing you that little mysterious bottle of black liquid!

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