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April 30, 2010

Jet Blackberry: Are You Gonna Be My Gel?

I’ve been on the receiving end of some nice generosity from the GU company recently, so today’s post is partly a way for me to share the love with a couple of readers, and partly to see who pays attention to this place on the weekends.

Since the giveaway features two separate items, this post features two separate setups: one that’s something of a clarification, and another that’s a bit of a story.

First, the point of clarification: most of us who have done ultras for a number of years were used to seeing GU2O as the featured energy drink at race aid stations. It was also sold in packets and tubs at REI, and developed a loyal following among endurance athletes. So when it started disappearing from store shelves last year, there was a fair amount of “Hey – where’s the GU2O? And what’s this new stuff?” being asked amongst runners, cyclists and triathletes.

The answer is that nothing happened, really. GU2O was rebranded as GU Electrolyte Brew - GU Brew for short – and, according to the website, “retains all of the attributes of GU2O with a slight formulation tweak to improve performance.” It has a 2:1 ratio of maltodextrin to fructose, which effectively supplies working muscles with easily available fuel while stimulating the absorption of electrolytes and fluid from the stomach to promote sustained hydration.

What I liked most about GU2O was that its sweetness was extremely mild, making it easy to take for 6, 12, or 24 hours at a time when necessary. Drinks that are too sweet quickly become sickening, and mixes that taste like water eventually lose their appeal during long-duration activity. GU Brew maintains that just-right balance of sweetness that its predecessor possessed – so if you liked the old mix, you’ll like the new stuff as well.

One sad note is that my favorite TangoMango flavor didn’t make the transition from 2-Oh to Brew, so that was kind of a bummer. It’s been replaced by Blueberry Pomegranate, which is pretty nice as well, but it sure doesn’t taste like mangoes. The other three Brew flavors are the same as the earlier version, and if you win the giveaway, you’ll get a sample packet of all four varieties to test for yourself.

And now for my little story …

There was a time almost 20 years ago when I got hooked on long-distance cycling. I lived in North Carolina at the time, and there wasn’t a better way to spend a sweltering summer afternoon than cruising along some bucolic country road (there were lots to choose from), being cooled by a steady breeze that was faintly but sweetly laced with the aroma of tobacco leaves from nearby fields (lots of those, too) until the sun faded enough to make lounging around the home patio a little more tolerable.

Of course, long days in the saddle still required some caloric intake - but in those days my friends and I were living on starving grad student rations, and we weren’t exactly what you’d call sophisticated. So instead of spending our money on cases of energy gels from our local bike shop, we made a habit of pocketing those little jam and jelly packets they have on top of the tables at Denny’s and Waffle House to use as quick sugar fixes on our bike rides. (Classy, huh?)

Over time, we became experts at precisely what kind of fruit toppings to smuggle. We learned to bypass the fruit-juice laden jellies in favor of the real fruit pulp found in jam; we found that berry flavors complemented water or Gatorade better than grape jam or orange marmalade; and I soon decided that blackberry was probably my favorite berry of all.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I had largely forgotten all of that until about 3 months ago, when I tasted my first packet of Jet Blackberry GU. I’m not sure quite how they did this … but it tastes almost exactly like the containers of blackberry jam we used to take from restaurants. Except in this case, it’s a nutritionally supercharged container that’s ideally formulated for endurance activity. The gel has a similar maltodextrin/fructose balance as GU Brew, along with citrates to speed the conversion of carbohydrates to energy molecules, branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) that reduce fatigue by limiting the central nervous system’s production of serotonin, and histidine to help neutralize lactic acid buildup. Throw in some antioxidants, a little chamomile as an anti-inflammatory agent, and a dash of ginger to soothe the stomach, and that’s about the most kick-ass packet of restaurant jelly you can possibly imagine.

The only real downside that I can see is that because of the name, every time I open a packet of Jet Blackberry, I’m reminded of the ridiculously infectious rock tune that follows this post. But that’s my own issue to deal with; as for you, I’ll throw in a couple of packs of Jet Blackberry GU with the Brew samples for whoever wins the drawing.

So that’s the deal: Brew and Blackberry samplers for two winners, drawn randomly from anyone who comments below. Good luck, and I’ll announce on Monday whether Jet is going to be your gel.


Jet, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” (click to play):

*Products provided by GU Energy.
** See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you'd like reviewed, contact me at info@runningandrambling.com.


Puller 5/1/10, 4:13 PM  

Sweet, Think I am the first comment! Hope I win some GU!

Barefoot AngieB 5/1/10, 4:45 PM  

That is awesome that you use the jelly packs. I used to love those as a kid and would eat them like candy!

I think Chocolate Mint and Jet blackberry are my favorite GU flavors and they really are amazing. I was so skeptical before trying them and now am a huge fan!

I don't know if I posted or not but congrats to your daughter for her awesome race. I have been trying to inspire my oldest son(10) with her and a couple other 8-12 year old runners that are spawn of athlete bloggers!

rbrown10 5/1/10, 5:20 PM  

I love those jelly packets! I always steal everyone else's toast so I can eat them. Never thought about using them or energy, though...

cognitive dissident 5/1/10, 5:22 PM  

I've just begun thinking seriously about running an ultra in the fall, and I'm still trying out the various gel & drink offerings...it would be sweet (pun intended) to win these samplers!

Bob Tucker 5/1/10, 5:38 PM  

Count me in!! Blackberry...yum.

Aaron 5/1/10, 6:06 PM  

Back in the day, honey packets from the caffeteria were my thing. Lately I've been playing around with carrying home-made gel in a flash. I use honey, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, and sea salt. I'm also intrigued by the idea of mixing a batch up with a shot of espresso or raw cocoa powder among other things.

Our local ultras have Gu gel at the aid stations, but as much as I'd like to just use those, citric acid is my enemy. Before the day's out I won't be able to bite down on anything solid without considerable discomfort. I attribute this to years of high acid foods, energy drinks, and energy bars dissolving the enamel on my molars.

G. E. Anderson --- 5/1/10, 6:57 PM  

I just discovered your site about a week ago. I'm in my mid-40s, and I've been a runner almost all my life, but have only recently decided to get serious about training for longer distances.

At some point I will need to start experimenting with nutrition during the run. I really don't know where to start, but if I win your give-away, looks like I'll start with GU Brew. :)

Bob 5/1/10, 7:06 PM  

You sold me...love some BB GU!

Francis 5/1/10, 7:09 PM  

Still in the early stages of training, so I'm not at the endurance level to regularly need these yet, but I hope to be, and I'm always on the lookout to improve my workout/hydration practices before I ingrain bad habits.

And also, free stuff!

Josh 5/1/10, 7:13 PM  

I'm in! Thanks! Blackberry sounds great. I've also done the honey packet thing for a quick pick-me-up.

DebbieJRT 5/1/10, 7:51 PM  

I have only tried the regular GU at a marathon expo, never tried running with it. The blackberry flavor sounds interesting.

Andrew 5/1/10, 8:22 PM  

Should have a warning label not to open in bear country! Yum Yum

My Life and Running 5/1/10, 9:29 PM  

Love the humble beginnings of you & jam packets. I remember being in my first scrappy apartment making really weak Gatorade to make the powder tub last longer... now I can't drink it full force. Too sweet. Might have to try the Brew. (&& NC might be an upcoming duty station horizon for us. Wonder how much of that bucolic countryside has changed in 20yrs?)

Jason D 5/1/10, 9:40 PM  

Wouldn't mind trying their latest and greatest. I'm in!

Andreas 5/1/10, 10:34 PM  

I have never actually tried any gels.. Haven't really worked my ways up to those distances yet... But soon I hope to get there!
I'd like to win some GU!

sara 5/1/10, 11:50 PM  

i'd love to win! the blackberry Gu sounds delicious.

KarenM,  5/2/10, 6:32 AM  

I would love to try the GuBrew!

Mikey 5/2/10, 7:01 AM  

mmmm, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents!?!? Those are 2 of my favorite things!

haystack 5/2/10, 9:03 AM  

Thanks for sharing.

C-Dog 5/2/10, 10:25 AM  

I wouldn't mind trying some gel :)

JBK in CA 5/2/10, 11:44 AM  

First of all after my 4hr jaunt in Garland today I could use some help with recovery. But what's really more important is that I score some more free stuff because pretty soon I will run out of all my samples from the Big Sur expo.

jason elliot 5/2/10, 1:05 PM  

My first thought was Wings's "Jet." I get the association you're talking about tho: "Are you gonna be my gel?" -- and, of course, the band's name. heh heh...

GU is good stuff. I hope I win.


Jeff 5/2/10, 1:22 PM  

Count me in for the gu

Jeff 5/2/10, 1:23 PM  

All of the GU gel flavors are great...only tried the blackberry once and it was good. Didnt know about the re-branding for GU Brew...

Thanks for the information and another try at free stuff

Jeff C

Michael 5/2/10, 1:36 PM  

I love the idea of using jam and jelly packets as a gel substitute!

Josh 5/2/10, 1:48 PM  

I've been following your page for awhile now, and am really enjoying it! Add me to the GU list - cheers

Richard Uren 5/2/10, 3:20 PM  

+1 for GU Contest :-)

Michael 5/2/10, 6:05 PM  

Hey Don -- you know I'm a huge GU fan, and I've recently tried the GU Brew samples...love them. Not a fan of the Pineapple ROCTANE, but you've convinced me to go try the Jet Blackberry. Looking forward to it -- and would welcome any samples you might send my way if I'm a winner!

CK 5/2/10, 6:18 PM  

We've come a long way from eating the Jello straight out of the package at junior high CC meets! I'd love to try the new GU.

Kevin 5/2/10, 6:25 PM  

another great post, I really love your Blog keep it up. Oh, and send me some GU.

Stuart 5/2/10, 6:32 PM  

Great tune, totally forgot that one!

Richard 5/2/10, 6:45 PM  

Nice... please pick me... want to try!

On the other end, try Extran, used it for IM and loved it... not too sugary.


nhill,  5/2/10, 9:07 PM  

Count me in! I have been wanting to try the Jet Blackberry GU!

Jimmy Hart 5/2/10, 9:51 PM  

back in my poor college days i used honey packets. it's amazing to see stuff like the new line gu products. we've come a long way. i cant wait to try these new things out.

Julie 5/2/10, 10:06 PM  

I want some! So my running partner can have it to make sure he is not tired and grumpy on long trail runs!

Gretchen 5/2/10, 10:22 PM  

I have all the GuBrew a girl could handle, but I just thought you should know: Jet Blackberry totally WAS my gel today, somewhere in the depths of Volcano Canyon. Twice the caffeine totally saved my butt in the last 3 of 38 miles. Didn't really taste like jam, but I didn't really care either. :)

Chad 5/3/10, 7:43 AM  

I haven't tried either but they sound good.

lizzy 5/3/10, 12:40 PM  

I was so excited to see the blackberry flavor. I tend to use shot bloks more than Gu, but probably more because i'm addicted to the black cherry and mountain berry flavors.

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