If, like us, you are a fan of Mathieu Blanchard, you couldn't miss his latest sporting prowess. By completing the GRA1's 650km long course in exactly 7 days 12 hours and 2 minutes, he literally shattered the record. The Näak team was eager to participate in order to help the champion to achieve his challenge. As experts in nutrition, Näak became the nutrition and logistics partner of the project since we were able to advise the athlete on his diet. Through this article, we want to share with you Mathieu's challenge in which we had the chance to participate and which was, beyond a sporting achievement… a real human adventure.
First of all, what is the GRA1?
The GRA1 is a 650 km long trail, begining in Matapédia and ending at Cap-Gaspé in Forillon National Park that crosses the wild region of the Gaspé Peninsula and the Appalachian mountain range in Quebec, Canada. Little known, few people have ventured on this perilous route among the most remote regions of Quebec, such as the Matane wildlife reserve. The terrain being hostile and the weather conditions difficult, such a project could not be realized alone and required meticulous preparation over several months, something that Näak wanted to participate in.
Why such a project?
Mathieu is a trail-running enthusiast, specialized more particularly in ultra-trail formats. This young Frenchman who now resides in Canada is collecting victories all over the world in several competitions: Transmartinique and Transalpine GoreTex in 2017, Ultra-trail Guatemala UTG100, Traces Nord Basse Terre TNBT in 2018, Québec Mega Trail QMT100 in 2019, TNBT in 2020. Mathieu had other ambitious projects for the year 2020 but he quickly realized last March that the current pandemic would severely limit the opportunities for international racing. Unable to compete against other runners, Mathieu had to think of other ways to challenge himself in the context of the covid-19 crisis. The GRA1 trail allowed him to find himself alone, to learn to push his limits and ignore pain and fatigue. By running more than 15 hours a day, even though he was unable to measure himself against other runners, he was able to measure himself by constantly surpassing himself.
How do you prepare such a project?
The preparation of the GRA1 was a long-term project that required training several months in advance. Therefore, as a training session, Mathieu set himself a few objectives to achieve in order to prepare himself as best as possible for this 650 km crossing of the Gaspé Peninsula. Since covid-19 and its implications are still relevant, Mathieu prepared himself for "local" challenges. He thus began his physical preparation with the tour of the island of Montreal in April, 125 km of road covered in more than 10 hours. He then continued with the 10,000m of accumulated vertical drops on Mount Royal. From then on, the Näak team was on hand, both nutritionally and logistically, and we were eager to help the champion succeed in his challenge.
Näak, the project's nutrition and logistics partner
As Näak ambassador for several years, Mathieu is an authentic person that we greatly appreciate. His energy, his passion for trail-running and nature have immediately bonded with the vibe of our company based on respect for the environment. So, when Mathieu talked about his project with the Näak team, we didn't hesitate for a second to offer him our help. We were very happy to make our contribution in this crazy adventure.
As experts in nutrition, we were able to advise the athlete on his diet to help him achieve his challenge. Indeed, beyond the physical capacities that are essential in such an event, special attention must also be paid to the nutritional aspect, as food is the fuel of the body. Our product manager, Kristina Nel, who has a degree in sports nutrition, has planned Mathieu's entire diet.
Moreover, the 650 km being a long and perilous adventure, Mathieu needed people he could count on to supply him, accompany him and encourage him in this race where the slack would be frequent... That's how our community manager, Nicolas Danne, became Mathieu's right-hand man, taking care of all the logistics of the race, the organization of supplies, equipment, overnight stays... The goal was to become Mathieu's second brain so that he could concentrate entirely on his race without worrying about other details.
Mathieu's nutrition plan
Running more than 15 hours a day was a huge physical effort, and so was Mathieu's daily energy and water consumption. He spent between 8000 and 10000 calories per day and it was therefore essential that he ate and hydrated accordingly. His diet and hydration had to be carefully planned to avoid any pain or deficiency that could slow his progress. Before his departure, the product manager Näak, Kristina therefore created a meal plan day by day for our athlete who detailed precisely his water and food intake.
Why were our products suitable for such an effort?
If we recommended our products to Mathieu it is because we are convinced of their benefits for a such physical effort. Indeed, our new protein powders contain 24g of protein per portion but also 4g of BCAA. BCAA's are amino acids branched chain that helps to develop muscles, to reduce muscular fatigue and to relieve muscular pains. Our protein powders have therefore allowed Mathieu to repair his damaged muscle tissue after his intensive efforts. By consuming between 10 and 15 Näak energy bars per day, Mathieu ensured long-lasting energy. Indeed, with 28g of carbohydrates, 6g of complete proteins with all the essential amino acids, 180mg of electrolytes and 180 calories per bar, the Näak bars allowed Mathieu to fill up with energy while continuing his physical effort.
Even if Mathieu's athletic prowess is remarkable, it is also worth noting his success on the nutritional aspect. Mathieu has never hit the wall in term of nutrition, which even more exceptional according to his daily physical effort.
In conclusion, a human adventure
Beyond a sporting and nutritional achievement, this race was also a human adventure. Mathieu chose to surround himself with several people: Nicolas Danne, Mathieu's right-hand man, video artist Jérome Binette, Julien, a friend of Mathieu and Marianne Hogan, an athlete and friend of Mathieu who is also a Näak ambassador. These 4 people followed our athlete together in a van, which Mathieu nicknamed the magic bus in his instagram posts. All of them highlight the good mood and the complicity that emerged from this adventure. They shared something unique that will unite them forever.
To conclude, we don't say that our bars and our protein powders are the reasons of its success, but according to Mathieu's words, they strongly contributed to it, and for that, we can literally say that the crickets give wings!
Finally, through this post, we would like to thank Mathieu Blanchard for letting us accompany him in this project and for his confidence. We are proud to have been able to advise this champion on the nutritional aspects of such an event. Congratulations again for this FKT (Fatest Known Time).