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Thread: Feed Station

  1. #1
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    Feed Station

    We are planning to do our first 5K, possible 10K, this summer in Montana. We've never had to deal with a feed station and we are wondering what types of nutrition and drinks other people would use and recommend for swimming these distances?

  2. #2
    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: Feed Station

    When I host a 5K I donít have any feeding stations. But I do give the lifeguards and course monitors extra water in case a swimmer asks for some.

    For our 10K we have an anchored pontoon boat for a feeding station and take whatever nutrition the swimmers bring to the boat. We organize the feeding by racer number, and as the swimmer gets to the station they call out their number and the feeding crew gives them their supplies. We also keep bottled water on the feeding station and give this to anyone who asks.

    Side note Ė remember to provide you on-water lifeguards with water and other nutrition. For a 10K they can be on the water for 3-4 hours.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

  3. #3
    Very Active Member ourswimmer's Avatar
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    Re: Feed Station

    Are you asking about organizing the race, or about what you personally should eat or drink?

    I have never done a swim race that maxes out at 5K or less that offered a formal aid station. They may well have supplied the course monitors with water as Rob suggests, but I never stopped to check.

    I have done 10K races that handle this issue a few different ways. Allowing or requiring individual kayak support is one that is common for point-to-point races, but most races that involve multiple laps prohibit individual kayak support. The pontoon boat is another. The local race that uses a pontoon boat doesn't let racers bring their own food or drinks, but does supply plain water (in, say, clear cups) or some sports drink (in, say, red cups) that race volunteers can hand out to passing swimmers if the swimmers stop for it. In that race, if a person wanted anything except for sports drink or water, the person would have to carry it in his or her suit.

    In another race I did they just let people's "coaches" (friends or family or whoever, max one per swimmer) hang out on a little dock that stuck out into the lake. The "coach" could hand his or her swimmer a snack or drink as the swimmer passed. I have done 10K races where the swimmers had to pass by the starting area every lap, and the organizers set up a self-service feeding station there. One used tables set up in shallow water; the other used a clever system involving over-the-door shoe racks on frames. In each case, the swimmer had to put whatever he or she might want at the feeding station before the race, marked with the swimmer's race number, and then could get it self-service if necessary between laps.

    Several factors will affect what you personally might need to eat or drink. For a 5K, most people I know don't need anything because they'll be out of the water in well under 2h. If I thought I'd need a snack during a 5K, I'd tuck a gel packet into my suit.

    For a 10K, most people will want at least a drink of water that is not from the venue. That's all I ever have needed, although I'm pretty well fat-adapted and not slow (2:35 range). Others I know like to drink sports drinks like Cytomax or Hammer Heed. A gel packet is easy to carry in your suit but a PITA to open, and then you have to make sure that you don't discard the empty pack in the venue even accidentally. I would consider those, or other solid food, only if I were doing a race with personal kayak support.

    Make sure while training for your race to test out different strategies during practice so that you can find out what is the minimum you can get away with and still feel comfortable at the end, what tastes good to you, and what is easy to consume without making you feel weird.

  4. #4
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    Re: Feed Station

    Thank you. I am trying to find suggestions for what we should personally ear or drink, but the other suggestions are very helpful for our training.

  5. #5
    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Feed Station

    I am a big fan of UCan drink for longer distance races of any kind. I'll take a bottle of it before the race and then in a 10k if I have a feeder, I'll have them give it to me about 2/3 of the way thru the race, if possible. It keeps the blood sugar really stable, without the usual highs and dips from other carb/sugar drinks. When I did Key West a few years ago, I alternated water and UCan every 20ish minutes and never really waned or felt hungry in 5-ish hours. Good stuff.
    Kari Kennedy

  6. #6
    Very Active Member srcoyote's Avatar
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    Re: Feed Station

    I've done distances up to 4.5 miles but not 10K yet. Most eschew feeding in a 5K, but I've found I perform better with a Gu about 10 minutes before race start and one about 2/3 through the race. I tuck both in my Speedo at the hip. I would try these out in a practice session as I've read of many on here who say that gels make them feel sick.

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