John Rutherford - VESPA

John Rutherford

Age: 40
Profession: Foreign Service Officer, US Department of State
Married; 2 Boys: 3 & 6 months

John Rutherford F-18
After years of ultrarunning success racing with VESPA and OFM, I decided to apply this proven approach to triathlon in 2014. I raced a 2:12 Olympic on no in-race calories (a VESPA Ultra Concentrate beforehand), won a half-iron distance on about 500 calories (all on the bike) and Ironman Zurich (my first at the distance) in 9 Hours, 34 Minutes on well less than half of what most competitors used.

In short, VESPA and OFM essentially eliminated
nutrition management as a primary obstacle to maximized performance at all distances. I finished IMZ in 9:34 on a breakfast of 90% fat/10% protein and zero carbs (butter, MCT oil, and collagen blended into coffee). With no blood sugar spike to stabilize, I was able to get an extra hour of sleep and swim with smooth, sustainable speed and still some high-end “kick” from the VESPA.

During the race, I took in about 1300 calories of brown rice syrup and ketone bodies and VESPA on a “drip” beginning about 30 minutes into the bike leg – a far cry from the nearly 4000 calorie GI distress recipe recommended by the “experts.” This carb drip plus VESPA was essentially a strategic insurance policy that enabled me to surge and go glycolytic as required, but in retrospect I’m certain that I could have raced the same time on even less fuel. Suffice it to say, there weren’t any gels taped to my top tube.

My VESPA protocol for IMZ (thanks, Peter!) was an Ultra Concentrate 45 minutes before the swim start, and UC’s again at the 2:30 and 5:30 marks. With a crew or support, I would have optimally taken a VESPA Jr. at the half-way point in the marathon, but found that the UC’s were enough to carry me through.This game-plan – when combined with a low-carb-high-fat diet in the months leading up to race day – physiologically guarantees that you will not bonk. In fact, you’ll actually have to remind yourself to eat.

A final note on VESPA: It is subtle when you’re taking it – you feel it normal to be strong and able to dig deep and then return to fat-burning high-end aerobic output, but not at all subtle when you forget (this capability is glaringly degraded). For a low-carb athlete, it’s like adding or subtracting that extra gear.