Fuel Belt Review

The other day, I had to switch cars for a week with Stephanie as hers was in the repair shop (my father's repair shop, to be precise).  One disadvantage to switching cars is that when it comes to triathlon training, you're really switching locker rooms.  That means bike helmet, cleats, pump, swim fins, gloves and hand pump. It also meant taking my Nathan two-bottle running belt. Somewhere between the time I took that belt and the time I got my car back, Nathan decided to up and leave me.  I'm pretty sure it had something to do with my GYST transition backpack I've been toting around -- looking like a tiny second-grader in the process.  The Nathan belt has a generous amount of Velcro and likes to attach itself to clothing or anything else nearby.  I'm pretty sure Nathan hitched a ride on the GYST Express and got off somewhere in my work parking lot.

Which leads me to Wildflower long-course triathlon, a little less than a week away. It's going to be hot that day.  Real hot.  Wildflower is the kind of place where 80 degrees will feel like 90.  So I'll need a hydration system of some kind for the dusty, sweltering run.  My wave starts at 8:35 a.m, meaning I'll be on the trails starting around noon, the heat of the day.

I chose to experiment with the Fuel Belt R30 for two reasons. First, the store I went to (Runnergy in Sherman Oaks) didn't have a Nathan three or four-bottle belt in my size.  Second, I've found that for two-hour runs or longer, a two-bottle Nathan belt (approximately 10 ounces per bottle) doesn't contain enough fluid for me to stay fully hydrated.  I need at least three bottles.

The R30 Fuel Belt gives me an extra 4 ounces overall, with each bottle being slightly smaller (8 ounces) though.  The challenge with a three-bottle system, at least with this Fuel Belt, is that all three bottles are positioned on the back part of my hips or directly on my backside.  That's inefficient from a running perspective and threw off my gait when I first tried using the belt this past Friday during my Griffith Park long run.

Further, the Fuel Belt has only a small square pouch on the right side for keys and possibly one folded gel.  You can add additional storage on the belt, but of course you're gaining further weight.  That's a touchy trade off.

I'm not that impressed with the R30 Fuel Belt.  The bottles aren't removed easily from their plastic holders, unlike my old trusty Nathan belt.  The Fuel Belt plastic almost feels more rigid, so that if you don't place the bottle correctly in the holder it won't slide into place. This was especially frustrating for me as I found myself twisting my hips and back more mid-stride focusing on putting the bottle(s) back instead of where I was going.  That's not safe on trails!

In short, I miss my Nathan belt.  If I could place a "Missing" sign with a reward for it, I would. I'll likely use the Fuel Belt at Wildflower because it's better to have extra liquids there, but after that I plan to return the Fuel Belt and wait patiently for a properly sized Nathan three- or four-bottle system to arrive in the store.

63 days and counting (re-calibrated to sync with the actual race day!)