Willie Richards is an endurance runner who first fell in love with long distance running in 2008 during his first multistage race – the Cape Odyssey. In 2015 he completed his first multi-day challenge from Mosselbaai to Franshoek and learnt how important planning nutrition and figuring out what works for your body is. “I learned that having a quick sugar snack in the last 3km might [help] get you home; but have it before and it will cause a sugar spike followed by an energy crash. The same sweet snack after a couple of days may also become nauseating when you are hot and tired”.
On September 10 Willie will be embarking on his first solo challenge. It will take him along the Cape Cross route which extends from Stellenbosch to Plettenberg Bay. It’s a route he’s had on his bucket list to do and he plans on biking the 750km one way, turning around and running the same route back. Effectively completing an ultra-marathon, a day.
As he won’t have his usual support team with him, Willie is taking extra care to plan his nutrition. “If I don’t have it on me, I won’t have it on the trip. So I need to do careful planning and packing to ensure I don’t come short during the challenge; but also don’t get bogged down with a huge backpack filled with gear I don’t need on route”.
We supported Willie on his 2017 campaign and know that he’ll be packing some Nakd Bars and Trek Bars to help fuel his journey. But before he sets off, we wanted to find out more about what he’s packing and how he decides what to eat during multi-day endurance events.
“If it does not resemble something looking like food then it won’t go into my backpack. Anything close to their purist form is great for me. This is one of the reasons why I am such a huge fan of Nakd bars (made from just real fruits and nuts smooshed together in an easy to carry, easy to eat way).”
Aside from Nakd Bars (and Trek bars which have 9-10 grams of plant-based protein per bar making them great for endurance), Willie is taking a lot of dried easy to transport whole foods.
“A great source of energy for me are dates, nuts, bananas and dried mango. When your energy levels drop, dates are a great source of energy, picking you up out of those dark patches. Over time my wife has experimented with date ball recipes. She makes these epic date snacks rolled in coconut shavings which I always carry on me when I do any kind of multi-stage riding or running challenge”.
For a change in taste on longer distances, Willie boils a handful of potatoes, adds some salt onto them and stores them in a ziplock bag. “They are a great midday snack and when you are struggling to eat, as they are easy to consume. I have found the more natural the product, the easier it is on my stomach and body”.
To follow Willies Journey find him on Instagram @500kmplus.