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December 17, 2009

GU Holiday Product Giveaway

Before today’s post and giveaway, let’s wrap up the previous drawing: Oz Runner and mweston, e-mail me (info@runningandrambling.com) your address – you’ve won the CLIF sampler boxes! And for the rest of you, there's another chance to win some holiday goodies today.

It’s hard to believe that GU has been around for almost 20 years.

When the Berkeley-based company’s original energy gels debuted at race expos in 1991, they were somewhat revolutionary: portable packets that provided the nutrients of an energy bar, with a texture that was almost as easily digested as fluids. They were a one-of-a-kind item, and once runners got past the initial “ick” factor of squeezing a mysterious gooey substance into their mouths, GU became a very hot commodity for all endurance athletes.

(Incidentally, isn't it an odd coincidence that GU and CLIF products are both based in Berkeley? I wonder if the rivalry is a friendly one like when two bands come out of the same city – Metallica and Green Day from the Bay Area, for example - or if they see each other as mortal enemies like Duke and UNC basketball fans. I need to get behind the scenes in Berkeley sometime – this is the kind of story I’d love to investigate.)

The products were successful for a simple reason: they work extremely well. GU’s energy gels proved to be highly effective at keeping athletes fueled during prolonged exercise, and it wasn’t very long before other companies moved to get a piece of the market. Today, most of us can probably name several different gel products out there, but the original company is still chugging along as the category’s prime mover.

Over the years, GU has improved and refined its original recipe based on ongoing nutritional research with various ingredients in its formula. They’ve also added a lot of new flavors and a few entirely new products, some of which are the primary focus of today’s post, and which will be awarded to a few people in a drawing afterward.

First up are the special holiday flavors of the original GU. This year, the company has added vanilla gingerbread to accompany its popular chocolate mint flavor that debuted a few years ago. The flavor is remarkably close to what you would guess gingerbread would taste like if it were ground into an energy gel. If you like gingerbread – I do, for sure – you’ll definitely love this flavor. The chocolate mint is the same as last year – which is to say, it’s still awesome. Think Thin Mint cookies in gel form, and you get the idea. The chocolate mint packets have caffeine, and the gingerbread are caffeine free. Another cool thing about the holiday flavors is that GU donates 10% of the proceeds from these items to the Challenged Athletes Foundation, so you’re helping a good cause when you load up on these seasonal favorites.

Last year, GU introduced its Roctane Ultra Endurance gel, which is specifically formulated for multi-hour training sessions or races (ultras, iron-distance triathlons, century rides, etc). The formula includes something called OKG (Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate, for you science geeks), an amino acid complex that lessens damage to muscle tissue during races or hard training and speeds recovery afterward. It essentially slows the catabolic process (the body breaking down muscle tissue during extreme physical exertion) and therefore lessens muscle trauma. GU recently added a pineapple flavor to its Roctane lineup - but unlike the vanilla orange and blueberry pomegranate flavors, this one doesn’t include caffeine. The taste is fairly pleasant – a little bit tart, but without a real strong aftertaste.

Another new product this year is GU Chomps, which are chewy energy bites similar to CLIF Bloks or PowerBar Energy Gel blasts. Chomps contain all the benefits of regular GU gel in a chewable form. Each 90-calorie packet also contains 100% DV for Vitamins C and E, and two flavors (strawberry and cranberry apple) each have 20mg of caffeine. The other two Chomp flavors, blueberry pomegranate and orange, are caffeine free.

I really don’t need to promote GU too aggressively – they’re one of the most well-known commodities out there for endurance athletes. They work wonders during long-duration activity and most of their stuff generally tastes great. If you’d like to try some of the new items, drop a comment below this post by 5PM PST Sunday 12/20. I’ll pick three winners, each of whom will receive a 6-pack box of chocolate mint gels, a 6-pack of vanilla gingerbread gels, one pineapple Roctane, and one strawberry Chomps sample just in time for your ramped-up New Year’s workout routine. Good luck!

*Products supplied by GU Energy Labs
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at


Dave Chan 12/17/09, 11:18 PM  

Thank you for hosting another contest and giveaway. Vanilla gingerbread gel? I'd like to try that!


Bryan E. 12/18/09, 12:19 AM  

i'm addicted to chocolate gu and never try any other flavors. chocolate mint sounds like it could be my new favorite...


Turi 12/18/09, 2:00 AM  

I've never even seen the "holiday" flavors. Sounds pretty good -


Denise 12/18/09, 2:44 AM  

The holiday flavors sound delish!

Jon (was) in Michigan 12/18/09, 3:51 AM  

Rocktane Ultra? Now that sounds interesting. I'm thinking that the "tart" taste will be more tame when you are on a long hot run. I'd love to try them.

Dave 12/18/09, 4:25 AM  

Awesome! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

TK 12/18/09, 4:29 AM  

I'm typically a vanilla-flavor purist but tried the blueberry pomegranate Chomps a few months ago and now have a new favorite. I'd love to try the holiday flavors.

Dave 12/18/09, 4:54 AM  

Sorry boss...I AM OUT on this one!...

Chad R.,  12/18/09, 5:03 AM  

GU gets me through...long runs. Need to try that vanilla gingerbread.


Al Nye 12/18/09, 5:37 AM  

Ok, I'll comment again,
But the reason I do,
Is to get my hands on,
Some delicious free GU.


Anonymous,  12/18/09, 6:09 AM  

OK, I'll try! Another chance for a gingerbread holiday energy treat? Thanks!
Bob in Michigan's Thumb

olga 12/18/09, 6:23 AM  

Larry loves GU and swears by it. Wouldn't take anything else, even if his race depends on it. Me? Anything that glides in my mouth effortlessly is good. Though have to say, when I was a tester for Roctane before they went on market, liked it a bunch. Good energy.

Bob 12/18/09, 6:39 AM  

Would love to try those flavors! Thanks! I go to your site every day!

Chris 12/18/09, 6:53 AM  

Would love to try some of the GU products.

Oz Runner 12/18/09, 7:42 AM  

woo-hoo...christmas came early...thanks for hosting this giveaway!

The Dude 12/18/09, 8:05 AM  

Count me in on this one too... Thank you!

RD Jim 12/18/09, 8:20 AM  

Mmmm vanilla ginger washed down with grape Gatorade. Who needs Burger King?

Darrin 12/18/09, 8:24 AM  

I loved slurping down GU at Seattle. Wish they had McDonald's french fry flavor

Jeff 12/18/09, 9:04 AM  

Would love to try the new flavors. Thanks for another 'lottery'

shel 12/18/09, 9:27 AM  

donald - these give aways are bananas! i have to make it a point to check in on you everyday, as i seem to miss them all by a day!! put me in for the GU!

trailmomma 12/18/09, 10:14 AM  

Ooooohhh!!!! Gingerbread really?? I can't eat real gingerbread (gluten issue) but OH how I have missed that flavor!! GU gels are gluten free . . . pick me so I can taste that yummy goodness again! :-) And because I've thrown my hat into the Way Too Cool Lottery and boy could I use those if I get in! :-)

21stCenturyMom 12/18/09, 10:47 AM  

I love Rocktaine and Chomps - yum!

ps- I got my MoodBoost yesterday. Will try it soon.

robb 12/18/09, 11:00 AM  

I'd love to try them!

nrmrvrk 12/18/09, 11:01 AM  

Throw my name into the hat. The Chocolate Mint sounds pretty good, but I'm a little skeptical about the Gingerbread.

Lesser is More 12/18/09, 11:51 AM  

That Vanilla Gingerbread sounds amazing! Great seasonal giveaway!

Kate 12/18/09, 2:24 PM  

Vanilla gingerbread - yum!

Josh 12/18/09, 3:08 PM  

count me in - and thanks!

Dave 12/18/09, 5:02 PM  

Right on, a give away and with holiday themed prized. Sounds fun. God know I will be burning through tons of those things next year.

Hope all is well.

B.A.,  12/18/09, 5:24 PM  

Looking forward to trying all of the new flavors! Thanks for the contest.

Michael 12/18/09, 5:32 PM  

Hey Don -- thanks for the shout out to GU. I have a very sensitive stomach, and have tried CLIF Shot, Power Gel, Hammer Gel, AccelGel, and just about every other product on the market...and the only one that doesn't consistently bother me in GU. Vanilla Bean and Tri-Berry are my favorites, and I also use the Chomps and GU2O Recovery. Sign me up for any drawings or giveaways -- I love this stuff!

1Miletogo 12/18/09, 5:40 PM  

Thanks for posting this, I would really like to try the mint chocolate GU.

Scotty 12/18/09, 5:42 PM  

I'm recovering from a recent hernia repair and training for 2010. I love GU!

VD 12/18/09, 5:46 PM  

Hook IT UP!

Karen R.,  12/18/09, 5:47 PM  

Vanilla Gingerbread sounds yummy. I currently use a different brand of energy gel & would love to try GU. I've heard a lot about it!!

Anonymous,  12/18/09, 5:56 PM  

I LOVE GU products. I've not tried the Vanilla Gingerbread yet. Thank you for the review, and for the contest!

Best regards, and happy holidays,

Bill in Apex

Henry 12/18/09, 6:05 PM  

Wow, GU is 20 years old. I remember feeding GU to my kids when they started doing triathlons 18 years ago. My son was 10 at the time.

Thanks for the opportunity to enter.

Henry Bickerstaff

Road Warrior 12/18/09, 7:12 PM  

Nice! GUs have gotten me thru many a tough run.

JGines 12/18/09, 7:23 PM  

Had my first taste of GU Energy Gel @ SJRR (My 1st 1/2 marathon) 2 months ago. Looking forward to trying the holiday flavors.

dulax34,  12/18/09, 7:27 PM  

GU is the best, it has helped me through some tough times in marathons.

Pinkcorker 12/18/09, 7:31 PM  

Hi Donald!
Okay, put me in for this one. I guess I'll keep trying to win something!
Thanks for doing these giveaways.

Kevin 12/18/09, 7:31 PM  

GU is what the holidays are all about!

Em 12/18/09, 8:35 PM  

GU has saved me more than once during marathons and long runs. I'm in.

eme 12/18/09, 8:55 PM  

I'll play - GU are my favourite gels!

Jeff Ooi 12/18/09, 9:38 PM  

Love GU ! Thumb UP ~

Josie 12/19/09, 4:45 AM  

Holiday GU flavors are the best! LOVE chocolate mint and can't wait to try the vanilla gingerbread. Hmmmmmm, I wonder if it works as cookie icing...

Jeff 12/19/09, 6:10 AM  

Oh man, I loved the mint chocolate last year - can't wait to try vanilla gingerbread!

jujubee,  12/19/09, 7:33 AM  

I've been using Gu for 15 years..started in 1995, the year of my first marathon. I've tried other brands, but always go back to Gu. Best flavor chocolate mint and vanilla. Would love to try the new chomps!:-)

QF 12/19/09, 7:45 AM  

Hi, please count me in. Thanks.

jen 12/19/09, 9:14 AM  

I love Gu, especially the Chocolate Mint! I'll throw my name in the hat. :)

Happy Holidays Donald!

runningcommentaries 12/19/09, 10:37 AM  

The mint chocolate is my favorite gu of all time!

Lori 12/19/09, 5:38 PM  

I've always liked Gu, my favorite gel, esp. espresso. But GINGERBREAD?? Hmmm, have to try it before I can knock it. Would love to try the new flavors. I have two 24-pks of lemon Power blasts that I love. Enter me, please!

Scheri 12/20/09, 12:16 PM  

I had no idea there were holiday flavors! They would be awesome to try! Thanks a lot.

Justine 12/20/09, 1:58 PM  

Thanks for your always insightful reviews. Would love to try the new GU products!

freecow29-first 12/20/09, 2:40 PM  

Gu is very Goood. It kept me alive in my first 100 miler, and works well. Love you posts.


FABB: Fun Adventurous Boomer Babe 12/14/10, 10:05 AM  

I would love to use these GUs on my next run. Did my first ultra with GU and felt great the entire way!

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