I recently ran a marathon fueled entirely with Maurten Gel 100 Hydrogels. I have tested the energy gel in several training runs and an ultramarathon, so I wanted to see how the energy gel would perform in an actual marathon, sort of a dress rehearsal for my goal marathon at the end of February.
Before we get into my recent marathon experience with Maurten Hydrogel, here are some takeaways and highlights from a full product review we wrote up after using it for a 65km road ultramarathon. (Read full review)
- Maurten Hydrogel is a 40 g energy gel with 100 calories and 25 g of carbohydrates, with glucose and fructose at a 1:0.8 ratio as the primary sources of sugar. The company claims that the gel’s carbohydrates are encapsulated in a hydrogel, bypassing the stomach to the intestines, where they can be absorbed faster and without causing gastrointestinal distress.
- The gel also provides 35 mg of sodium and 21.6 mg of calcium. It’s mildly sweet with a unique consistency similar to jello that’s not quite completely set.
- Maurten made energy gels “more tasteless” instead of adding more flavoring in an attempt to solve the unsolvable gel flavor issue. In a roundabout way, the company sort of did provide a good solution.
- Prices for Maurten products are on the higher end. It’s USD43.5 for a box of 12 Gel100 and USD50 for a box of Caf100.
My game plan
I signed up for the Taipei City Marathon on December 18, 2022, a B race. If my training block was going well, I would try to PB (2:58:31). If not, I would treat it as a moderate-to-marathon effort, long-distance workout with some quality mixed in.
I brought six Mauten Hydrogels. One for pre-start and the rest to consume every 25-30 minutes.
I woke up three hours before the 6:30 am start. I had a cup of coffee, honey water, a banana, and half an apple for breakfast. The race venue was a short cab ride from my place, so I had ample time to do some light stretches and finish packing up.
The weather was perfect for marathon running. 9-12 degree Celsius with a clear sky. Slightly windy in spots, but nothing too out of the ordinary for Taipei City.
Fifteen minutes before the start, I took my first Maurten Hydrogel.
I wanted to average 4:10-4:12 per km. I hit the pace for the first 10km, but it felt more labored than it should be. It wasn’t the best training block (that’s another story for another time), so I knew a personal best was wishful thinking.
I took the first energy gel 30 minutes into the race and the second one after one hour. My stomach grumbled around the 10km mark, but everything settled. No funny stomach feelings the rest of the way.
To the halfway mark
I completed the first half marathon in just under 90 minutes, almost 2 minutes slower than my targeted pace. I could have forced the issue, but I made an “executive decision” to slow it down and treat the rest of the way as a long-distance run.
Some would call that smart. Internally, I thought I was perhaps mentally weak.
I took the third gel shortly after I crossed the half-marathon timing mat. I didn’t feel a notable surge, but at no point was I low on energy either. Maurten Hydrogels sustained my energy level.
I took the fourth and fifth energy gels during this segment. I was running at a pace 10-15 seconds slower than my true marathon effort, so it wasn’t too taxing. But I also couldn’t go much faster (or mentally, I didn’t want to hurt).
It goes to show that energy gels are not little bags of miracles. If you didn’t train well and smart and willing to embrace the discomfort, nothing you eat on race day will get you over the hump.
The energy gels set well. Maurten’s mild and neutral taste was still pleasant, but I found myself wanting something different to mix things up.
To the finish
More spectators came out to cheer us on for the last 3km, lifting my spirits. I picked up the pace, which showed that I had more to give and was likely too kind to myself.
- I tested Maurten Hydrogel in a 65 km road ultra during the summer. I also ate six gels for that race but spaced them out to about 45-50 minutes per pack. Packing six Maurtens into three hours caused a slight taste fatigue. In the future, I may mix in one energy gel of a different brand to give my taste buds a change of pace.
- I’ve noticed one thing about the packaging. Both the top and bottom of the packaging are the same width. You can’t distinguish them by touch. When you’re going at a higher intensity and wearing a pair of gloves, you have to pay closer attention to where the rip is located. A tiny inconvenience when your focus should be on maintaining a running rhythm.
- Maurten Hydrogel is easy on the stomach. Eating six gels in such a narrow window can tax the gastrointestinal system, but I experienced no issues.
- As mentioned above, energy gels aren’t miracles. They can sustain your energy levels and prevent bonking but can’t help you go faster.
Overall, Maurten continues to work well for me. It’s a palatable gel that provides energy and doesn’t upset my stomach. I have the sports fueling part dialed in. Now back to the lab to work on my fitness and mental game.