Sports drink founder puts together team to challenge Hood-to-Coast mark
Gresham's Mark Jensen invented a new sports drink and will get to see it in action this weekend when his Gleukos Fast Fuelers attempt to break the 10-year-old Hood-to-Coast Relay record.
The 197-mile relay, which winds from Timberline Lodge to Seaside over two days, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Jensen picked a crew of elite runners, who are all sold on his glucose-based refueling drink, which hit the local store shelves last year.
'I was just disappointed with what was on the market - I didn't want a Kool-Aid,' Jensen said. 'It took six years to formulate everything, but I knew I had it right when we tried it with athletes, and they said they wouldn't want to race without it. Everything we put into the drink had a purpose.'
While many popular sports drinks include sucrose or corn syrup, Jensen's mix is based on glucose and doesn't include artificial colors.
'I found a lot of people were adding water to their drinks anyway,' Jensen said. 'Gleukos has about 30 percent less sweetness and it gives it a lighter, cleaner taste.'
The course record of 15 hours, 45 minutes, 55 seconds will force the crew to keep a 4:51 per mile pace to accomplish its goal.
'They set the bar pretty high, and it's going to be tough but we're excited about racing,' team captain James Nielsen, who is a two-time NCAA Division III champion in the 5,000 meters. 'I'm not worried about the lack of sleep. I just want to make sure we stay on course. It can be easy to get lost out there and one wrong turn can cost you the race.'
The team will have the additional challenge of running mostly in the dark. They leave Government Camp at 7:45 p.m. Friday and are scheduled to arrive in Seaside by noon Saturday.
'I got these guys together because they are capable of breaking the mark. If it was raced on a track it would be no problem, but there are a lot of variables that make it difficult,' Jensen said. 'You have the hills, the darkness and the gravel. Plus, you hope your driver doesn't fall asleep.'
Jensen, who is known for completing 18-mile runs on his lunch break, will stay behind the steering wheel and drive the team van during this weekend's quest.