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Trail Race Aid Station Tips From Two Top Ultramarathoners

Trail runners and nutrition savants Magdalena Boulet and Stephanie Howe are not strangers to training with a range of foods and drinks. More than anything else, the two speedsters stress the importance of training with the foods you might eat on race day. These trail-racing heavyweights share their knowledge and tips for aid station success.

What’s Your Dream Aid-Station Fuel?

“Popsicles would be great, but I understand they’d be a logistical nightmare,” says Howe, who also appreciates a finish line with a hot meal. Ideally pizza or make-your-own burritos!

Eat to Effort

The harder you’re running, the more difficult it is to process food, because your blood is pumping to your muscles instead of your digestive tract. “The lower the intensity, the more creative you can get,” Boulet says.

Decisions, Decisions

“You don’t want to take everything at once,” cautions Boulet. “There is a limit to what your gut can handle.” That threshold is about 200 to 350 calories per hour. Test this in training and, Howe suggests, carry the fuel you need and supplement with aid-station fare that you’ve used in practice.

What’s the weirdest food you’ve seen in a race?

Boulet: Five or six different types of cheeses during an ultra in France—it smelled so good but it also smelled like trouble! (She did not partake.)
Howe: While I was pacing my husband at Bighorn, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with bacon sounded good— and we both had one!

Read More About Race Day Nutrition:
What Foods Can You Expect At Trail Race Aid Stations?
Check Out This Insane Ultra Aid Station

Nicki Miller

Nicki Miller

Nicki Miller is the managing editor for Women's Running and spearheads our nutrition coverage. She’s an avid runner but also loves cycling (both on and off-road), yoga and all kinds of crazy videos to do at home. Formerly the editor of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, Nicki started her journalism career at The Washington Post. Her first races were duathlons (run, bike, run) in her twenties with her husband, and then triathlons, completing the White Lake Half Ironman in North Carolina. Since joining Women’s Running in 2013, she’s been more focused on half marathons and trail running. Some of her proudest moments have been running the Boston Marathon (first 26.2), and becoming an RRCA certified running coach and helping others take up the sport.