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What I Found At The Boston Marathon Expo

New vendors were abound at this year’s Boston Marathon expo.

Written By: Mario Fraioli

Don’t think you can get through a marathon without stuffing your shorts full of energy gels? Well, now UCAN.

Debuting at this year’s Boston Marathon Expo, Generation UCAN is a new sports drink that utilizes a unique energy source called SuperStarch, a healthy, naturally modified carbohydrate that was originally developed for children with a very rare disease where they cannot produce any blood sugar in their bodies naturally. Used for performance purposes, Generation UCAN products are said to force the body to use fat as its main fuel source, which can extend glucose maintenance while having little to no effect on insulin levels.

“We got into sports nutrition by accident,” said Peter Kaufman, executive vice president for the UCAN Company. “We were at a clinical trial at the University of Oklahoma to see what effect it would have on people who didn’t have that disease. The carbohydrate doesn’t have the spike and crash you get with sugars and maltodextrin. It has almost no reaction by insulin. Because of this, it forces the body to use more fat as its fuel source.”

Generation UCAN is packaged in powdered form and mixes with water in a single serving. Available in five flavors–pomegranate blueberry, vanilla, chocolate, lemon and plain–the product is claimed to provide a better fuel balance between fat and carbohydrate, sparing muscle glycogen, maintaining blood glucose and helping people achieve a more efficient and healthy metabolic state, all without gastric distress.

“It actually doesn’t cause gastric distress like other sports nutrition products,” Kaufman said. “It’s not a thirst quencher. Remember, it’s mostly a starch that provides a steady energy burn.”

So how effective is Generation UCAN? Effective enough that it has already become Meb Keflezighi’s sports drink of choice for Monday’s Boston Marathon.

“I believe this product, its team and the company’s vision will change the face of sports nutrition,” Keflezighi says. “Since I’ve been using Generation UCAN for my workouts, I’ve noticed improvements in both my performance and metabolic state.”

Into The Expo Atmosphere

Year in and year out the Boston Marathon Expo serves as a launchpad for different vendors looking to make some noise with new products and exciting attractions. This year’s retail rodeo is certainly no exception.

On the footwear front, Saucony announced its presence in the minimalist shoe movement with the introduction of the Kinvara, a lightweight trainer developed in response to the growing trend of less is more on your feet.

“It weighs in at 7.7 ounces for men, 6.8 ounces for women,” said Brian St. Onge, a Shadow Rep for Saucony. “The upper is also lightweight and pretty breathable and the midsole is light and flexible but still supportive. It’s a minimalist approach with maximum protection.”

For the third year in a row, Mizuno featured their Precison Fit System, a scientific way of scanning a runner’s foot that looks at foot type and other structural and mechanical factors to help determine the appropriate type of running shoe.

“It’s a unique system that takes into account a lot of biomechanical factors,” said Colin Ingram, New England Territory Manager for Mizuno. “In a lot of places it’s done by simply watching you walk and seeing all kinds of different stuff. But when you break down the pieces of the stride that affect what shoe is best for you, it’s essentially hip rotation, how your knee tracks and all these little pieces the scanner isolates as one and puts it all back into one picture to present you with the shoe that will work best for you.”

Moving into the world of training tools and medical accessories, a few lesser known products were hoping to make more of a name for themselves amongst the crowd of marathoning masses invading Boston this weekend.

The Tiger Tail rolling muscle massager combines a rolling pin and a foam roller to target trigger points and reduce pain brought on by tight, overworked muscles. It can also serve as an effective warmup tool before workout out.

“It just rolls pain away,” said Spring Faussett, inventor and president of Tiger Tail. “It’s a lot like a hand-held foam roller. It helps with muscle recovery, it helps push out lactic acid and it helps warm up and stretch muscles before an activity.”

And if you’re trying to keep an annoying overuse injury at bay so it doesn’t slow you down on race day, then it might be worth giving Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape a try. KT Tape is the first brand of kinesiology tape that’s been made available to the consuming public. Available in 10-inch adhesive strips, KT tape can be used to treat common overuse injuries such as patella tendinitis, shin splints, IT band syndrome and plantar fasciitis. Company CEO John MacKay says that aside from relieving pain and providing stability and support for these common types of injuries, the product is highly effective at speeding up muscle and joint recovery without restricting movement.

“It’s very non-invasive,” said John MacKay, CEO of KT Tape. “It’s a very light intervention. You don’t even know you’re wearing it, but it takes enough of the stress off of the affected tissue that it keeps the inflammation from increasing and you can get through those things without it being an issue.”