Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Product Review: E-Gel Takes on the Champ (A.K.A. Gu)

Stop your gagging sounds if you are not a Gu fan already and just bear with me a sec. I'm really just trying to give you that long past promised product review on E-Gel and was trying to think of a catchy title or at least a title that would cause somebody to click on over here (if you're not impressed you can keep your insults on my lack of creativity to yourself because you did in fact click over here somehow. So what does that say about you Mr/Mrs Critical? Hmmm?)

Anyway to the review...

Background first: 14 miler on Saturday in the early AM on a pretty hilly course. I took two E-Gels one at mile 5 and one at mile 10 and 16 ounces of water with each as directed by packaging instructions (not all at once or anything). Here's what I found:

1. Taste-Yay or Nay?: Yay on one flavor anyway. Strawberry Vanilla Slam was a pleasant surprise. I do believe the exact words I said out loud to myself were "Oh WOW!" In fact, I'd say this flavor is about as equally yummy in my book as Vanilla Bean Gu and you all know about my dangerous love affair that we shall speak not of with Vanilla Bean Gu (let's just say: tv, couch, box of gu. You get the picture). The other two flavors I tried Cherry Bomb and Mountain Rush were a tad on the strong side for me, but the good news about that is they forced me to drink a lot of water which is a necessity when taking gels and something I'm not always the best at. (FYI: my least favorite of the three flavors I tried was Mountain Rush sort of a limey flavor that was not in the least exciting to me.) There's also a 4th flavor Tropical Blast which I haven't tried just yet. But since I like at least one of both Gu and E-Gel, I'll score it: Gu-1point, E-Gel-1point

2. Energy- Feelin' it or Come on already, where is it? Feeling it. Not like, "hey I feel like the kiddos BOTH went to bed early, slept soundly the whole night through, I had an energy drink and am at mile 3 of my long run," but definitely more along the lines of "I'm no longer feeling like when I get to the top of the next hill I might just lay down and take a nap." It was a slight pick me up. But I will interject just for a moment that I never really know for sure if it's the gel or the thought that I am supposed to have energy that does the trick for me. I mean I feel a little more energetic with gu too (a little) but is it all just in my head? (not that I care, I know I need the stuff and I'll take any little reprieves from exhaustion I can get). I'm sure the longer the mileage, the more I'll be able to judge the effect on me energywise. I mean if I'm remembering correctly from my last marathon training, at 20+ miles, there ain't a whole lot of anything you're thinking away(like exhaustion or that little stitch on the side of your shirt that's sticking out and now causing a major wound rather than a minor irritaion). So since both have you feelin (or imagining) at least a little sumptum sumptum, let's score it: Gu-2points, E-Gel-2points.

3. Size - Too Big, Too Little or Just Right? - Too big in my book. E-gel is roughly twice the size of a gu packet. Now this is understandable because it's got a lot more packed in than gu, but still it's kind of a pain in the you know what to carry (although they do make little belts on their website you can carry them in.) Two E-gels took up most of the pouch I run with. I'm thinking I'll be needing two more for the marathon, and I'm not sure exactly if they're all going to fit. Plus there was a whole lot of unwanted pouch bouncing going around, but then again I also was carrying my phone, my keys, and some electrolyte strips (which I probably ought to do a review on for you too eh? more on that too come in future posts) So on this one, I'm going with score one point Gu. So Gu's moving ahead slightly here: Gu-3points, E-Gel 2-points.

4. Stomaching the Gel: No problem or Can't quite choke it down? - ok so this is slightly different than taste. You see there's always a point with me that no matter how much I like the taste of Gu (at least Vanilla Bean or Plain) I can no longer force myself to choke it down. Or if I can, It takes me a good 1/2 mile to finish that little packet. This usually comes at around mile 13 or so and is often time preceded with burping which is oh so attractive and enjoyable too I might add. With E-Gel this was not a problem at all (YAY!) and this is probably my biggest complaint with gels because they do me no good sitting in my pouch if I can't stomach them. And although I'm tempted to give E-Gel 2 points for this, we'll keep it simple: Gu-3 points, E-Gel-3points.

5. Substance: Am I getting what I need or Is something Missing? It's in there and then some my friends. This is what really got me wanting to give these a shot after a runner friend of mine from Runner's World recommended I do so. (THANK-YOU Gwayne!) Check out these comparison charts: Gu v E-Gel, E-Gel v Gu Roctane, E-Gel v Powerbar Gel, E-Gel v Hammer Gel, E-Gel v Clif Shot Gel, E-Gel v Clif Shot Bloks. Yeah...can you say, score one point E-Gel: Gu-3 points, E-Gel-4points.

6. Cost: Fair enough or for cryin' out loud I'm not looking to go bankrupt on running!? Fair enough I think. You can get E-Gel either at some running stores or online. I bought a couple at my (semi) local running store to give them a try first and I honestly can't remember what I paid at the store (that would probably have something to do with a 3 year old who was pretty sure she needed to get her hot little hands on every item in the store and also get fitted for her own pair of running shoes, "but I need some runnin' shoes mamma!") I can tell you however, that I just paid $21.94 including shipping for a box of 16 ($1.37 each) and the last time I bought Gu at the store it was $32 (and some change I think) with a 10% discount for a box of 24 ($1.33 each). Before we score a point for Gu you should also know, you get points for your online E-Gel orders that are applied as a discount. Upgrade your "club crank" membership (it's free to be a member of their site), and you get a bigger discount on your products and pay a flat rate shipping fee which I noticed would have been a buck cheaper on my order. It's only $8.95 to upgrade (although I can't quite figure out how to do this. If anybody else figures it out let me know) and I'm thinking for me that it is probably worth it.
Furthermore they've got a buddy referral program, when your friends order and sign up with your referral number, 10% of their order is translated into "crank points" and a discount for you. They advertise, with 10 referrals you "Eat Free". You know me, put those two words in a sentence and there's almost nothing sweeter :-) (my referral number btw if anyone's interested is 369768 or you can just click here if you want to oh so generously thank me for testing out, reviewing and bringing this product to your attention by ordering a little some for yourself and scoring me a few "crank points" in the process). So we've got to award this point to E-Gel for the innovative idea of rewarding runners for something they already do anyway for free most of the time, which is share beneficial products with each other. That puts us at Gu-3points, E-Gel-5points.

BONUS ROUND: Cha-Ching! As if eating for free was not enough to make my day, E-Gel takes it a step further and lets it's own runners get in on some of the advertising dollars. If you have a website (what do you know? I think I do) and it's about sports (Running Moms, you don't get much more sportier than that do you?) and you put a link over to their website, then they will reward you with cash if people click over and order. So all you running bloggers out there might just want to go check that out. And don't be surprised if you see a little something new in my sidebar soon :-) So for that we must give E-Gel one more point which brings the grand total to: Gu-3 points, E-Gel-6 points.

I'm so sorry about this Vanilla Bean Gu, but I'm afraid our relationship is about to come to an end. You see we're just not going anywhere and E-Gel understands me better. Don't worry there's someone out there for you, but with all my heavy sweating (really, it's just sick and wrong) that person just can not be me. It's the best thing for the both of us. I promise. There's always late night news on the couch though ;-)

Now what to do with that box of gu I just bought?
'Til next time...
PS. For more info about properly consuming water with gels click here.


gwayne said...

You are too funny! I'm glad the egel passed your test. Always makes me nervous suggesting things to people because everyones tastes are different. I hope you give'em some publicity and get lots of points so that you can "eat free", that would be sweet.

RunMom said...

Thanks Gwayne! And FYI everybody: the affiliate website thing is WAAAAAY is easy to do and takes all of 5 minutes hence the new bling in my sidebar.

B.o.B. said...

I will certainly try these Egels out. I am a pretty big fan of the Gu's so we'll see how it goes. Great review! I am sure it will make my next I Like Stuff post.

runnanna said...

Funny, funny, funny. I will be giving it a try too.

amycourts said...

Alright, you win. After last weekend's spectacular 16 miler (which was made all the more amazing thanks to Roctane), I decided I needed to stock on gels for my Sept marathon. Research led me here, and I'm biting. Enjoy your points. :)