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Home / News / Enervit ambassador Alex Zanardi makes successful triathlon debut against the odds
 
19 June 2015

ENERVIT AMBASSADOR ALEX ZANARDI MAKES SUCCESSFUL TRIATHLON DEBUT AGAINST THE ODDS

 
226 KM IN 9 HOURS, 47 MINUTES AND 14 SECONDS. An almost unimaginable goal for an athlete who never ceases to amaze: Alex Zanardi finished his first long distance triathlon in under 10 hours, just as intended. At his side, the Enervit Team with Professor Enrico Arcelli, who supported Zanardi throughout the preceding month, monitoring his preparation and designing his nutritional strategy. The team created a completely new and innovative carbo-loading protocol designed to store energy in the muscles, including a test run for a ‘secret’ supplement that worked to perfection.

226 KM IN 9 HOURS, 47 MINUTES AND 14 SECONDS. An almost unimaginable goal for an athlete who never ceases to amaze: Alex Zanardi finished his first long distance triathlon in under 10 hours, just as intended. At his side, the Enervit Team with Professor Enrico Arcelli, who supported Zanardi throughout the preceding month, monitoring his preparation and designing his nutritional strategy. The team created a completely new and innovative carbo-loading protocol designed to store energy in the muscles, including a test run for a ‘secret’ supplement that worked to perfection.

Alex Zanardi lost both of his legs in a terrible CART crash in 2001, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing what he loves. Acknowledged both as an amazing athlete and as a person with an extremely positive attitude towards life, after the accident he began to participate in various events for disabled athletes and started a new sporting career in para-cycling using a handbike. At 48 years old, he continues to race and win in various events around the world today, whether behind the wheel of a modified BMW sports car or at the 2012 London Paralympic Games where he won two gold medals.

One of his more recent challenges was to complete the 2014 Long Distance Triathlon World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, an event that has consistently inspired people to achieve greatness since it began in 1978. Enervit stood shoulder to shoulder with Alex as he prepared to face the challenges of the most demanding and prestigious long-distance triathlon in the world, which proved to be one of the most exciting challenges of the season.  The challenge of long-distance triathlon is one that both thrills and chills not only triathletes themselves but also those less closely associated with the discipline. It has always been one of the most coveted goals of every endurance enthusiast; the challenge par excellence for the so-called ‘iron men’.

"We were delighted and excited to support Alex Zanardi in this adventure. A challenge that demands proper preparation and diet, sports nutrition and training; fields in which we could rely on the winning experience of the Enervit Team,” said Alberto Sorbini, President of Enervit Ltd. “Focusing this wealth of experience on a sporting ambassador such as Alex was a powerful motivation for us to keep improving all the time, pressing ahead with innovation, constantly offering athletes new products and strategies that meet their different performance needs."

Rather than an impossible challenge, this was a reality within the grasp of a man like Zanardi, fuelled by passion, courage, the desire to always surpass himself and by a great sense of adventure. The questing spirit of a man who does not have to prove his worth to anyone, but who can focus on his next goal for the pure pleasure of the sport, even when this involves the extremes of world-class endurance.

"I was fascinated by the adventure,” says Alex, “and drawn to the chance to test myself against something new, something that goes beyond pure sports performance. I don't set myself limitations, so when I was offered the opportunity to take part in the world long-distance event, I immediately jumped at the chance.

I certainly didn’t start from scratch when it came to endurance; I've always been careful about preparation and nutrition, but I knew that there was always plenty of room for improvement. To tackle this adventure – my multisport debut – what I had to do above all was build on the work already done. That's why I joined forces with Enervit. I believe in them because everything they do is based on solid research. Whenever I think I've made it, I discover that in actual fact I can push myself even further. "

On the day of the IRONMAN World Championship, the ocean was raging, providing the athletes with some of the fiercest conditions seen in recent years. Without legs to help him swim and sprint at the start, Zanardi relied on a buoyant wet vest, a snorkel and his powerful arms to keep him going. Within minutes his snorkel was kicked off his face and his head shoved underwater. This would happen over and over again. Despite these issues, Zanardi completed the 3,2 km swim in 1 hour and 8 minutes.

On his custom handbike, Mother Nature put on a fearsome show with gusting winds during the 180 km ride so strong that at times he nearly crashed. After 6 hours and 7 minutes on the bike, Zanardi switched over to his Olympic wheelchair. He recalls climbing the steep hill up Palani Road at a mere 3-4 km/h, with his hands slipping due to the sweat soaking his wheelchair's rims.

As he finished, after taking just 2 hours and 24 minutes to complete the 42 km marathon and ranking 272 out of 2,187 competitors, the realisation of what he had accomplished hit home, "The last 300 metres were worth everything, they were worth being here for. I don’t know if everybody got cheered the same way, but when I passed down that narrow lane I have never experienced anything like that. It was amazing. I was close to crying. I am not an emotional guy for these types of things, but this was very special.”

He later tweeted, “What a feel: thousands of people cheering you at the line and the speaker shouting: Alex Zanardi, YOU are an “IRONMAN!”

Speaking about supplements straight after the event at the post-race press conference he said, “I knew I had a long race ahead of me, but I felt good. I've been working with my trainer Francesco Chiappero and I had the Enervit Team by my side - they prepared some products specifically for me, researching them not only from the nutritional point of view but also from the point of view of handling, of how I actually take them given that I can't use my legs. The Team created a special new product for me, which will probably be put on the market in the future but which was designed for this specific occasion.

"I followed this strategy because I couldn't use my arms and hands to open a pack and mix powders. Hence the idea of taking a particular energy mix in liquid form and using a 1-litre canteen to take my nutrition. I drank water regularly and took mineral salts in capsule form at regular intervals.”

Regarding the unique carbo-loading protocol developed by Enervit, Zanardi continued, "Innovative not only in terms of the formula itself but also in the way you take it, the carbo-loading protocol designed by Arcelli's team (in Zanardi's own words) really worked. It's an energy mix diluted in a 1-litre canteen – my thanks to Enervit because they supported me. I drank water regularly and took mineral salts in capsule form at regular intervals. I had a timer to tell me when I ate [energy] bars, but my main source of energy was in my special litre bottle full of carbohydrates.”

The Enervit Team went on to say that," In order to perfectly control both energy input and intake of minerals, Alex was given a solution that included a special blend of carbohydrates and minerals that contained everything he needed – in a volume of 1. litre – for the whole of the 7 hours anticipated for the cycling and Olympic wheelchair stages. Both the bike and wheelchair were equipped with a timer that marked 10-minute intervals, for each of which Alex drank just one mouthful of the solution. This meant an additional mental effort in an already highly complex event, but it was a choice of huge significance in training terms. As for water, with the predicted consumption of about 800 ml per hour in the cycling and wheelchair stages, Alex took advantage of the fresh refuelling supplies arranged by the organisers along the route.”

As an Enervit ambassador, Alex Zanardi fully represents the energy and spirit of sport at the origin of all great sports stories. Enervit is proud to support this great man and congratulates him on this achievement. The product that was tested on Alex during his long-distance triathlon preparation and race was the latest innovation from Equipe Enervit- Enervit Carbo Flow, which was recently launched in Europe and will be available in South Africa in the upcoming 2015/16 season.

More information

Enervit Sports offers a complete line-up of endurance sports nutritional supplements, providing specific products for every step of an athlete's performance strategy: before - to increase the availability of energy; during - to combat fatigue; and after - for a quick and optimal recovery. For more information, visit www.enervitsport.com/za

 

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