As conversations around Ottawa Marathon race weekend centre around the heat and rumours of race cancellation due to extreme weather, we caught up with Kevin Rutherford, CEO of nuun, which is the hydration product that will be served on course.
Q) People are nervous about the heat. You’re supplying the hydration. What is nuun and are you scared?
A) Nuun is Optimal Hydration. It’s a complete electrolyte profile, basically — what you sweat out, it replenishes. So quite honestly, no I’m not scared or nervous at all. Nuun is designed for these extreme situations. Optimal hydration is a critical strategy to ensure a great race, especially on a hot day.
Q) What exactly is nuun made of?
Nuun is a combination of four essential minerals: sodium, which is the salt we lose, and potassium, calcium and magnesium. These are the minerals you lose when racing and what you need in your body for proper muscle function. Your body releases sweat as a cooling function, and in that sweat you naturally lose those minerals. Put simply, Nuun puts in what your body needs replenished when you sweat.
Q) Does water not have those minerals?
A) No, not all of that. Water’s not enough.
Q) So it’s going to be hot race day. So hot that we might not even have a race. That said, if we do, does nuun have to work overtime in extreme heat?
A) Yes, in a sense. Your body’s going to need more of it. Electrolytes are mission critical to replenish and to avoid muscle fatigue and cramps. Another way to think about Nuun is rapid hydration. When you are severely dehydrated, a paramedic won’t give you water in an IV, they will give you electrolytes to get you back to where you want to be.
Q) Can runners drink too much nuun?
A) No. You can’t drink too much nuun but surprisingly to many people, you can drink to much water.
Q) Can you explain?
A) Hyponatremia is when you drink too much water. You can’t drink too much nuun because any excess electrolytes in your body you’ll urinate out. In rare cases, you can drink too much water and then you can have a low sodium concentration in the blood.
Q) It’s your first year on course in Ottawa, the country’s largest race, and with so much attention on heat and the weather and hydration, are you nervous?
A) No, I’m not nervous. In fact, I think this is exactly why we’re here. This is our opportunity to help runners have a shining day in challenging conditions. Nuun is designed for these types of situations.
Q) So besides drink nuun, what else can we do?
A) Acclimate yourself to the conditions. Don’t step out into the heat for the first time on race day. Hydrate throughout the race, and start slow and finish fast.
Q) If it was up to you, would you run the race?
A) I am running—with zero hesitation.