Rob Howard Ultrarunning Testimonial


Rob, feeling the Vi, on his way out of Fish Hatchery (mile 23) at the Leadville 100.


Rob Howard has, like many in the sport, a fantastic story. He's a great guy, one of those you can't help but like the first time you meet him. He's unassuming, happy, and you can tell he truly loves his time spent on the trail. And, like many, has come from a background about as far away from endurance running as you can get. The transformation from a 250 pound football player to a 100 Mile Ultra Runner doesn't seem like it would be an easy or enjoyable experience. But Rob has done it, and done it with a smile on his face.



We have some connections with Rob through mutual friends and running groups, and knew he was using Vi Fuel and very happy with it. Then, after finishing the Leadville 100 a couple of weeks ago, he left us a review on our Facebook page: "According to my pacers I sucked down about 70 packs of Vi this weekend. I will say that the only rough stretches I had during the race were the times that I wasnt taking in some Vi Fuel. I had ZERO stomach issues all day. Even better yet I think I sold about 2-3 people on using this product while out on the trail. Thank you guys for the extra boxes that you provided my crew. This IS the next big thing in endurance sports. I cannot wait until the day that this product is fueling every athlete to success." WOW! And if that wasn't enough, he followed it up with "...and 2 days later i will say i have zero soreness in my quads/hams. Will be putting in my next big order here shortly! Thanks again!" I had to hear more about why he was liking it so much. This is EXACTLY why we made Vi Fuel. Nothing out there gives you everything, and we set out to make a gel that does, so when we hear that people are recognizing that this is a complete and well rounded endurance fuel, we get pretty dang excited!




Getting our schedules to match up took some time and we finally were able to touch base on Wednesday morning, August 29, about ten days after his finish of the Leadville 100. The following is a brief interview with Rob about ultra running, racing, and Vi Fuel. Enjoy!






(Vi Endurance) Have you always been a runner?




(Rob Howard) No, I actually hated running when I was younger and I was pretty much overweight my entire life. When I graduated high school, in 2005, I was about 5’7” and weighed 250 pounds. After graduating and in college, I wound up going into a fitness specialist program. I always enjoyed working out, nothing like I do now, but being so overweight in a class like that in college was kind of rough so I just tried to lose some weight.I was working out here and there, but the running didn’t really come together for me until I moved to Colorado. When I came out here I realized that everyone out here runs and I slowly got into it. And like most that get into trail ultras, you start off slowly and all of a sudden you jump from doing a ten mile run to running your first hundred.


(Vi) What drew you to ultra distances and, more specifically, running 100 miles?




(RH) It was actually the Ft Collins Trail Running group. Pete Stevensonwas actually the guy I first met. It was in ’08 or ’09 when I joined the group. I was on the CSU triathlon team but had so many issues with my knees with all of the road running, so Pete invited me out for a trail run on Reservoir Ridge and that was the extent of my trail running for a while; these little four mile loops. But I got to talking with others in the group and they were talking about ultras, which I had no idea about. So I started doing some research and looking them up and the more I saw, the more I got into it and thought it would be cool. But at that point I still didn’t think it would be possible for me to get to that level.


Then I wound up doing a race that Pete was doing, the 12 hours of Boulder. I went out there and gave it a shot and fell in love with it. I actually did this race before my first marathon thinking that if I did a marathon first then I’d probably not want to go any further. I figured I’d just make the jump right away. Then I did a few marathons and my first 50 miler at Leadville (Silver Rush 50) in 2010. I then finished my first 100 at Lean Horselast August after giving the Bighorn 100a shot in June, having to drop out of that race at about mile 60.And then I finished Leadville a couple of weeks ago.


(Vi) And why did you choose Leadville? And how did that race go for you?




(RH) I guess the first reason was for proximity. It’s so close and easy to take off a day from work and just drive a few hours. Plus, it’s a famous race. It’s not completely my style, being so crowded. I think there were 800 at Leadville as opposed to about 80 at Lean Horse. It was good and bad. I love the quiet, laid back races, but it was nice not to feel like I was the only person out there at any point. I would do Leadville again but for the sole purpose of getting the 25 hour buckle. I’m not a huge fan of doing the same races over and over again. I want to try new things and keep exploring.


(Vi) How did you hear about Vi Fuel and how long have you been using it?




(RH) I first head about it on random posts in various running groups and met some people who were using it in Boulder and in Ft Collins. I paced a friend at Rocky Raccoon in February and she brought a lot of Vi Fuel, gave me a shirt, and she is a pretty big fan of it herself so we were handing out packets and talking it up. I only had one or two gels that night so it wasn’t a substantial point in my life where I started using it regularly.But it was implanted in my mind and my friend used it and had a really good race. Then at Bighorn this year is when I met Mike (Poland) and Alan (Smith) for the first time. After Bighorn, when I was training just for Leadville, is when I started using it a lot. Around the first part of June. And all it took was one or two runs to realize it was working pretty well.


(VI) Cool! So what benefits do you see from Vi Fuel and how was it working well for you?




(RH) For me, GI issues are one of my biggest things. I always train the legs and the body the right way, but things fall apart. Like at Bighorn for example, I had extreme stomach issues. I finished, but it wasn’t an enjoyable race. A lot of it was what I was eating during the race and before the race. Then when I started using Vi Fuel I realized that it wasn’t stressing out my stomach. It was the first thing I noticed. I was able to eat it, continuously.


And I didn’t get a lot of highs and lows. I had a very consistent feeling, energy-wise. It kept me nice and mellow. I didn’t get that jacked up feeling that I get from using something else with a lot of sugar in it. And then I didn’t get that pretty wicked crash either. The only time I would get a little bit of a jolt is if I would stop eating it for an hour or two, then have my first packet. That would give me that good feeling; I’d get that good buzz going on, but then it would mellow out quickly, and I enjoy that. I know what to expect every time I eat it. I know that it’s going to work.


Another thing is that towards the end of a run I still have energy. I can still attack on the hills a little bit towards the end, even if I’m feeling pretty crappy and feeling tired. At least I know that’s one thing I have control over, that I know it’s going to work. Definitely one of the things I enjoy about Vi Fuel.


And I enjoy the flavor and consistency of it. I tend to get a pretty wicked “tooth jacket,” as I’ve heard the term used before, with other gels. The feeling of your mouth being sugar coated. That’s one of the things I find with Vi is that it goes down very easy. And I get this feedback from friends I share it with as well. They tell me the same thing; it doesn’t stick in your mouth, and it goes down super easy even during a super hot run or a super cold run. It just goes down and does its job.


I think my crew told me I ate 75 to 80 packets of Vi Fuel over the course of Leadville 100. And I ate it consistently for 27 hours and was still able to stomach it, which was the most surprising thing.


(Vi) In our conversation on Facebook, you mentioned that you were happy with how little soreness and fatigue you experienced in the days following Leadville. This is the first 100 that you trained for while exclusively using Vi Fuel. How was the experience different as far as recovery is concerned?




(RH) Yes, I see a huge difference. After Lean Horse, where I was using (competitors gel), I remember pretty vividly the following week being drastically different. And I trained for the races very similarly. I trained just as hard for Lean Horse as I did for Leadville, and had a great race at Lean Horse. But I realized that I didn’t enjoy how I felt afterward. The thing I distinctly remember after Lean Horse was that it took me 20 minutes to get out of bed the next morning because my legs wouldn’t cooperate. Everything was just locking up. The muscle soreness I had was unbelievable. And that was for weeks after Lean Horse. I just could not recover, no matter how hard I tried. After Leadville, I pretty much had no soreness in my quads or hamstrings. The only place I had any soreness was in my calves because my ankle was a little tender and I ran a lot on my toes at certain points. That was expected. But my thighs had no issues what-so-ever, even two to three days after the race. I felt fine. Especially after the tightness in my knees went away, more the orthopedic type stuff, I was back at it. I’ve been running again this week and feel like I’m recovered physically. I feel great!


(Vi) So, anymore race plans for the rest of the season and into 2013?



(RH) In September I’ll be doing the Lakewood trail running series, which is a series of short races every Wednesday, between 4 and 7 miles. But I still plan on using Vi Fuel for these shorter races as well. Probably take a shot 10 to 15 minutes before the race and one sometime during, or just after. Then I’m pacing a friend at the Wasatch Front 100in early September, then another friend at the Bear 100at the end of the month, both in Utah. Then in October I’ll run the Blue Sky Marathonin Ft. Collins. Finally, in November, I’m going to the Moab Trail Marathon Championships. And that will be my last race this year. Then next year I’d like to do one big mountainous 100 and a couple of 50’s as well. Probably do the Bear 100, the longer more mountainous runs and build up to feel like I have the ability to finish Hardrock before I’m 30. That would be my goal.



It was great to get a chance to sit down and talk with Rob simply to get to know him a bit better and get some great first hand feedback from someone who is seeing exactly why we made Vi Fuel in the first place. Thanks Rob... we're forever grateful for your support!

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