By Mick Whitaker
I live in Adelaide, Australia and began my introduction into triathlon and endurance activities initially to keep a friend company whilst he was training for the 2006 Busselton Ironman in Perth, Western Australia. We were both ‘super-average-athletes,’ just doing the miles to ensure he could complete his Ironman. Now, a decade later, I’ve completed many Ironman distance triathlons myself all over the world, including Ironman Western Australia, Melbourne, Port Macquarie and Challenge Roth in Germany, as well as long-course triathlon events in Alpe d’Huez, France. I have also raced Ultra distance trail-running races and compete in many one-day cycle races in Australia and several renowned Granfondo and Cycle Sportif races in both France and Italy.
Like all amateur athletes, I have learned the ‘art’ of pacing, hydration and nutrition throughout my training and racing successes. Living in Australia often requires training and racing in the heat of summer which, at times, can reach over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and requires specific nutritional supplements. In the past I have had some success with Lava salts to alleviate cramping issues in the high heat in Australia whilst training and racing, and I have even tried Roctane salts but had a disappointing race experience on that supplement, which I will expand on shortly. Note: At this stage, I was unaware that HOTSHOT had even been developed.
My ‘A’ race for the 2015 calendar year was to compete in the Marmotte Granfondo in the French Alps in July, which is arguably one of the hardest one-day cycle races on the planet with over 5000m of vertical ascent in just 174km, climbing across four Cols of the French Alps in one day: Col du Glandon, Col du Telegraph, Col du Galibier and Alpe d’Huez. I had been training intensively for the Marmotte for six months in the high temperatures of the Australian summer to condition myself to race this event in the European summer. I even used the Australian 3 Peaks Challenge ride in Victorian highlands (4,400m ascent in 234km) as a lead-in training ride for the Marmotte Granfondo. I completed the 3 Peaks successfully in 9hrs 44min on a warm Australian day, which included some minor, niggling cramping issues at times during the last half of the ride. All the while, I was racing in 3 Peaks and training for the Marmotte Granfondo without the use of HOTSHOT as I was unaware it even existed.
July 3, 2015 was the race day for Marmotte. It was the specific focus of my training for the last six months and the main reason for my trip to France. The proceeding week had been a record heatwave in France culminating in a 44 degree Celsius (110 degree Fahrenheit) race day in the French Alps. An important piece of information that I think needs mentioning at this point is that I had difficulty sourcing the Lava salts supplement that I was used to in the months leading up to the Marmotte, so tried a ‘new’ supplement called Roctane salts, which I had trained on for several weeks leading up to the Marmotte, but not in the extreme temperatures experienced in the French Alps on race day. The race scenery was stunningly picturesque and a privilege to ride amongst. For the great majority of race day I was feeling good and eating and drinking sufficiently and I was executing my race plan perfectly and everything was as well as could be expected in the unrelenting heat. I was feeling quite well all things considered, that is, until I started going up the 21 switchbacks of the famous Alpe d’Huez. I had ridden and raced on this glorious route many times previously so I knew what to expect. However, on this particular race day, as I was climbing Alpe d’Huez, the heat had taken its toll and the psychological wheels fell off completely!
It felt like I was riding on the surface of the sun and I was cramping badly, unlike anything I had ever experienced previously. Every muscle in my legs was twitching simultaneously and firing uncontrollably. When I would stop to relieve a particular muscle cramp, it would start again somewhere else. It was debilitating and it crippled me. I was furious as I had been taking two salt tabs an hour for the duration of the race. However, that did not even abate the cramping in this relentless heat. I eventually limped across the finish line considerably slower than I had planned and claiming a silver medal. But I was gutted. I missed out on a gold medal I was so intent on claiming if I had managed to finish before the 10-hour mark.
I was devastated I performed so poorly on the last Hors Category climb of the day especially as I knew all of these climbs so well. I had paced correctly all day and I had taken the correct nutritional precautions to avoid any issues and yet I succumbed to the most severe muscle cramps I had ever experienced, which lasted for many hours after I had finished the race. I did not understand or comprehend the level of muscle fatigue and salt loss I endured given I thought I had taken the correct precautions with respect to sufficient salt intake. If only I had known HOTSHOT existed, this whole situation could very well have been avoided.
Fast-forward 12 months and in mid-2016 I was living and working in Florida. Whilst there I was training heavily for The Great Floridian ¾ Ironman distance triathlon race in the hideous heat and humidity of the Floridian summer. A training friend who knew my previous issues with cramping during high heat and extreme endurance events suggested I try a revolutionary new product called HOTSHOT.
The first time I tried a bottle of HOTSHOT was on a long early morning 28km training run and even though I had read about the unique spicy taste, it still took me a little by surprise. However, it worked fantastically well and I didn’t experience a hint of cramping on that run in the unrelenting Floridian humidity. From that day forward I have never looked back. I used HOTSHOT regularly on all my training sessions and I raced on HOTSHOT during The Great Floridian ¾ Ironman distance triathlon race and never experienced any cramping issues whatsoever. I felt strong all day and had a very successful race – taking out my first ever age group race win. I was very happy. If only I had known about HOTSHOT earlier!
In December 2016, I went for a holiday to Hawaii and whilst there I rode around the entire island of Oahu with a friend. I used HOTSHOT on this beautiful island ride and I had no effects from cramping all day long. Win!
It’s now January 2017 and I am living back in Adelaide during the extremely hot and dry Australian summer. Now that HOTSHOT recently became available for international shipping, I am managing to train extensively using it throughout all my endurance activities in the high temperatures. I recently rode a 300km ride around the Adelaide countryside and put a serious dent in my Strava Rapha 500 quest (ride 500km in the 8 days between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve) and I never experienced or had an inkling of any cramping issues throughout the long 11-hour ride.
Right now I am performing training rides around the Adelaide hills during the UCI’s ‘Tour Down Under’ race week as a way of increasing my cycling workload for my next race in July 2017 to reattempt the Marmotte Granfondo back in the French Alps -- with one major inclusion to my cycling nutritional regime: this time, I’ll be training and racing on HOTSHOT; thereby, eliminating any sign of muscle cramps and aiming for that elusive gold medal.
HOTSHOT is now available for international shipping, order now via TriathlonLab.com!
HOTSHOT at Breckinridge Spartan: “HOTSHOT is changing how we all race– because we are able to use it to eliminate cramps and to push ourselves harder, longer, and farther.”
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Australian World Champion Crowie Alexander: "Cramps are so debilitating and performance limiting." Read his story.