In less than a week, Marc Coma and his team mate at the MRW Red Bull AMV Team, Joan Pedrero, will face another edition of the Dakar. With nearly 9000 kilometres in front of them of a competition that will last 15 days, in which they will usually be over 5 or 6 hours on their KTM 450 Rally, to keep the concentration and to endure them will be a real challenge. That is why Coma and Pedrero must be very careful with their hydration and nutrition, which will be key factors that make the difference between finishing the day exhausted or being able to resume competition the next day again at the highest level.
There are many factors to take into account for the Dakar challenge to have a positive outcome: an extraordinary physical preparation, a good setup for the bike, the support of a strong and coordinated team, some luck and be able to foresee any needs. All that can be prepared beforehand, but once the race starts and the competition begins, to keep a good hydration and manage the energy in the marathon days is essential to perform at a level which will allow to fight for victory.
That is the reason why the MRW riders are so careful with their hydration system during the race and with their nutrition after the stages. Days in which they can be over 6 hours doing a continuous physical effort require an optimal physical form, especially in locations such as the Atacama desert —the driest in the world— in summer, because in the southern hemisphere spring has just finished and summer started. Thus, it is essential to hydrate regularly thanks to systems such as the camelbak, a backpack placed inside the jacket that allows to drink through a tube without stopping.
With such a high physical toll, organizers force the participants to stop regularly: each 250 kilometres the riders make a halt and must be stopped for 15 minutes. That is the time Coma and Pedrero use to eat something fast, such as energy bars or gels that allow them to keep their physical performance for the rest of the stage.
Those who have participated in the Dakar say that it is one of the most amazing experiences, although not everything is so beautiful as the idyllic landscapes and unique tracks. Sometimes they feel they have reached their limits. They see how adversity, in the form of heat or fatigue, is about to beat them. That is why it is so important to keep the balance between hydration and nutrition so that everything goes well.