Q&A with Manuka Sport Warrior, Brandon Chase
Brandon Chase is an American ex-pat living in Cyprus (an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean near Turkey) sharing his fascinating travel and training journeys, with attitude, advice, and enthusiasm through his popular blog Fit for Miles. He’s also one of our Manuka Sport Warriors!
Currently, Brandon is attempting a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) – a 2,190-mile route through 14 states – in 100 days! Just for reference, a typical thru-hiker takes 5 to 7 months to complete. We had the opportunity to speak with Brandon Chase to learn more about his experience hiking and participating in competitive events, get updates from the trail, and discuss how he uses Manuka Sport to perform at his best and maintain his endurance.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started professionally. How many competitive events have you attempted? What were the results?
I grew up in Maine, just outside Acadia National Park, and spent a lot of my youth hiking the trails there. I work for the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer and we are assigned to different embassies around the world. For the last two years, I have been posted to the embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus, which is where I picked up trail running. During that time, I’ve participated in approximately 20 events ranging from half marathons to 50-mile ultramarathons. My first ultramarathon was the Two Castles Mountain Ultra in 2017, where I won the 50km race outright with a time of 6h59min.
What made you choose this sport?
For me, it’s less about being on the podium and more about enjoying nature, meeting great people, and pushing my mental and physical limits.
Give us an overview of this Appalachian Trail (AT) challenge and what you’re trying to achieve. What’s the record time for fastest completion?
The Fastest Known Time for the AT has been broken each of the last three years, unbelievably! The current record holder is Joe “Stringbean” McConaughy, a 26-year-old from Boston, with a time of 45 days, 12 hours, and 15 minutes. More here, if interested.
What do you foresee as the biggest challenges/obstacles during this 100-day trek?
The biggest challenges I foresee are the unknowns: weather and injury. I spent close to a year researching and planning logistics including daily mileage, where my resupplies would be sent, and what conditions I might face. However, there’s no telling what the weather will do or what might happen if I twist an ankle or get some kind of waterborne illness that requires me to slow down. The AT, much like an ultramarathon or other endurance activity, is big puzzle. Being able to embrace, adapt, and overcome unfavorable conditions will be the key to success.
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What are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to experiencing the wonderful trail community I’ve been hearing so much about. I’m only 5 days in, but I’ve already met some great folks and had plenty of “trail magic” (treats and snacks left for hikers) along the way.
I know you’ve previously written about it but tell us what supplies/equipment you’re bringing?
This could take a while! I’ll give you the abridged version. Basically, I spent months and months researching, testing, and sometimes re-buying gear. The goal is to get as light as possible to reduce load while also not breaking the bank (price increases dramatically as weight decreases).
In short, here are my gear choices:
- Backpack: Superior Wilderness Designs 40L
- Quilt/Sleeping Bag: Enlightened Equipment Enigma 10-degree
- Tent: Zpacks Solplex
- Clothing: mostly Patagonia
If you’d like to see more specifics, my blog post is the best source as it has photos and explanations of everything.
You’re a big proponent of Manuka Sport. How do their products help in your training and competitive performance?
What I love about Manuka Sport energy gels is their ingredients – the honey tastes great and I’m a big fan of having electrolytes included, as well as the consistency. I find that other gels don’t get it right – Gu is too much like toothpaste and SIS is too watery. Manuka Sport gets it right on all fronts, making it easy to consume on the run.
How will Manuka Sport products help with your success on the Appalachian Trail?
Manuka Sport will play a critical role in my success on the AT. The gels will provide quick calories and energy for climbs without necessitating a stop like other snacks. I mix the protein powder with my oatmeal for breakfast, which gives a great boost to my morning miles while providing a solid nutrition base for the day. Meanwhile, the hydration powder will keep my BCAA and electrolyte levels high throughout the day while providing a much-appreciated break in taste from plain water. All three products serve different, yet crucial, roles in my daily nutrition on the trail.
What are your top three favorite products?
If Manuka Sport could create a product for you, what would it be and why?
Literally the only thing that I want to consume that they don’t already create is protein bars. If Manuka Sport made protein bars, there’d be nothing else an athlete needed!
Let’s talk future events and competitions – what’s next on your list?
I’m currently looking at the Kathmandu Ultramarathon (haven’t decided on the 50k or 100k race yet), which takes place in December. I think that would allow me some time to recover, resettle, and retrain effectively.
We loved our chat with Brandon Chase and wish him all the best on the Appalachian Trail and future challenges. The easiest way to keep up with Brandon as he pushes his limits around the world is to visit his blog at Fit For Miles.