Sunday, 29 June 2014

Drinking on the Run

I've said it before, but I'm going to say it again: I love my long run situation at the moment.  I do our local parkrun, head to the car for a few glugs of coconut water and to ditch my running jacket and gloves, and then head out for a few more kays along the same route.  Love it.  No need to lug along jackets and warm stuff, and no need to carry water - everything I need is right there after every 5 km loop.  Ahhh.

Mid- and post- long run treats.

The convenience of having a central water station on a long run got me thinking about drinking on the run.  I never carry my own water or fluids while I run (unless I cart it along in the stroller) - running with a sloshing bottle/belt/pouch irritates the living daylights out of me.  This has, of course, lead to some pretty interesting water situations during races, as I'm always at the mercy of whatever is provided by the race organisers.  And trust you me, there are some pret-ty bizarre water tables out there...

My weirdest water table encounter must have been during the Highlands Trout Mountain Challenge in the Kingdom of Lesotho last year.  Not having any water with me, I really looked forward to the first water table.  I spotted it from a distance, and imagined there to be plastic bottles or water sachets in the cooler box that stood on the (unmanned) table.  I was, however, overcome with confusion as I finally peered into the cooler box: It was filled about a quarter of the way with water and melting ice cubes and contained a generous sprinkling of grass shards...  Oh, and there was an empty plastic bag floating around in there too.  Uhm, okay...?  Was I supposed to grab a few melting ice blocks and chomp away on the run?  Or scoop up some grassy water with my hand (and try to ignore the thought of all my predecessors doing the same)?  Or, was I supposed to dive in, head first, and drink straight from the cooler box?  Was it even a race-related water table??  I was stumped.  So I drank nothing and went on my merry way.

Running Lesotho.

A few kilometres later, I ran past a security guard standing at a gravel road turn-off and in front of him, on the gravel, stood about five or seven small plastic bottles filled with water.  Was this a water station?  Was there going to be any water to drink along the 21 km race route?!  By that time I was really, really thirsty, so I asked the guard if I could have some of the (his?) water.  He laughed and assured me that there was a fully stocked water table just a few hundred metres down the road.  I reluctantly took his word for it and, thank heavens, he was right - WATER!!  And lots of it.  Presented in non-confusing ways and at regular intervals along the rest of the race course.  Hallelujah.

The runner-up for weirdest water table must go to one of the water tables that I passed during the Paris Marathon in France in 2011.  I really needed a drink by the time I reached this specific table, but, all that was on it, was a gazillion-and-one sealed 2 litre water bottles...  No styrofoam cups to pour yourself a drink; no small, compact little water bottles to carry on the run - just those humongous, heavy 2 litre monsters.  The ecologist in me felt really, really awful about taking only a few sips and then tossing 1.8 litres of perfectly fine water into a bin, but I also really, really didn't want to run any portion of a 42 km race carrying 2 kg of water with me.  Or share a bottle with a thirsty stranger.  Hmmm.

Running France.

Have you had any strange water table encounters during a race?  Do you carry your own water on the run?


  1. 2L water bottles at a water stop? That's got to be the weirdest thing I've ever heard!

    1. It was quite absurd. Not sure what the organisers were thinking...?

  2. Haha you have had some interesting water table experiences! All the races I've been in they just hand out the paper cups, which I am absolutely TERRIBLE at drinking from. Most of it just gets on whatever I'm wearing or somehow in my hair...I'm super lucky that my mom is willing to ride a bike alongside me for my long runs so she just keeps my water on the bike. I'm much better at drinking out of a bottle, but it still took me a while to not choke every time :). I would feel bad about tossing all of that water too (I feel bad about tossing the cups down too lol), but no way would I run with that much water...that's crazy! They should have have those mini water bottles throughout the race.

    1. Down here in SA we usually get water in sealed plastic sachets during races - you bite off one corner of the sachet and then drink as you run. I've heard many international runners complain about this "system" - apparently some don't like stepping on throw-away sachets and getting squirted with water... I've never had that problem, though - I guess we've just become used to drinking from and dodging the sachets...? I did find the paper cups tricky to drink from during the Walt Disney Half in the US, though - I guess I need a bit more practice when it comes to the cups!


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