I stumbled across the Kendal Mint Company energy gels by chance when looking for an alternative to the Science in Sport gels that Iain uses. I wanted to try something different as I was often getting stomach cramps on longer runs when using the SIS gels. I had previously really liked the flavour of the SIS chocolate gels (they didn’t make them for long so think I was in a minority 🤣) so was looking to see if anyone else makes chocolate gels. KMC NRG chocolate mint gels came up in my search and I knew I had to try them. They arrived the week before my first ultra of the year so I took one on a short run just to check that I liked it! That first gel was a real shock as they are seriously minty! The chocolate is a lot less obvious but overall I would say I liked the flavour although you do have to have to like mint!
On the Northumberland Ultra in May I took the gels with me but found that I really wasn’t fancying them at all. I am not sure if it was because it was very humid or because I was trying to go at a fast pace (for me) but I really wasn’t keen on them at all. Saying that they did what I needed them to do as they definitely gave me a boost when I used them. I suspect I would have felt the same about any gels as I seemed to be preferring ‘real food’ that day!
As well as the chocolate mint gels I had also ordered the KMC NRG BAR as I love Kendal Mint Cake. During this race and several other runs where I took the KMC NRG BAR broken into bitesize pieces in a bag in the pocket of my race bag I found that they dissolved into a gooey horrible mess 🙁 They tasted great but it was not very practical! I have one bar left and I am going to take in when Iain and I take part in the OMM later this month as I think it will fare a lot better in the cooler weather!
I then used the chocolate mint gels again on the St Cuthbert’s Way Ultra and loved them! I enjoyed the ‘wake me up’ of the mint, they are easy to swallow (you don’t feel you need to wash them down with water) and I had no stomach cramps. I did feel slightly nauseous after 55 miles but was able to continue to use the gels without any problems which was great. While running this ultra I met another runner who also used the KMC gels and he recommended the raspberry and mint. He was also a chocolate lover but hadn’t been that keen on the chocolate mint gels.
So when I needed to order some more gels for my 100 mile race I ordered the raspberry and mint, I also ordered some mint caffeine gels as I wanted something with caffeine for overnight and I ordered some of the KMC ISOMIX hydration and energy mix as again I had been using SIS products but was finding their energy mix too sweet and it was making my lips tacky.
I tried out the ISOMIX when it arrived, 2 scoops in 500mls, a quick shake and you are good to go. I loved the taste as it is super refreshing. I then used the ISOMIX and gels in the 100 mile Pilgrims ultra and they performed brilliantly. I had no problems with hydration or fueling during the race and the gels and hydration mix were definitely a large part of that. During the race I had no digestive problems at all, no cramps and no nausea and was able to eat throughout 😃.
I had a gel roughly every 7 miles, during the day it was mainly the raspberry and mint which are a lovely flavour, easy to swallow and have the added bonus of electrolytes thrown in! I saved the caffeine gels for when I was flagging a bit – I think I had the first one late afternoon and I was amazed by how it picked me up for a mile or two! Having never had a caffeine gel before I was impressed by how good they were at giving you a boost!
As I mentioned KMC gels also have electrolytes in them which is good if like me you forget to take ISOMIX powder to add to your soft flask at aid stations. It saved me stressing about electrolytes for many miles! The gels are also vegan and gluten free.
I also see on the KMC website that they are now selling reusable gel flasks and bulk gel refill pouches. I think this is a great idea as I hate the waste produced by gels. I guess my main concern for using them on ultra races is how easy they are to fill (for topping them up at aid stations) as if they spill it is going to be a horrible sticky mess. Hopefully I will try them in the future and can add an update to let you know!
KMC also often have some good offers on their website, which is great. On my last order I got a free KMC buff which I am enjoying wearing and have added to my buff collection! Both times I have ordered from them the service has been quick. I would definitely recommend them to try especially if you suffer from digestive problems on long runs. But you do have to like mint! They also do a citrus and mint gel and a citrus and mint caffeine gel. I was unsure of this as a flavour combination but if they are anything like the flavour of the ISOMIX they could be great!