How not to die

Laban Ditchburn and other participants running 50 km of fun

In the 19th century, the greatest scientific minds in the world had a consensus that flight was impossible. 

“I can state flatly that heavier than air flying machines are impossible.

This is a direct quote from Lord Kelvin in 1895 who was the first British scientist to be elevated to the House of Lords, President of the Royal Society in London, a world-renowned expert, at the height of his career. 

Absolute temperatures are stated in units of “Kelvin” in his honour. Yet neither his status, nor his accomplishments, nor his beliefs stopped the Wright brothers from making the 1st sustained, controlled, powered heavier-than-air manned flight in 1903.

So in the spirit of this “In your face to Lord Kelvin, I wanted to prove to myself at least, that running a non-stop 50km Ultramarathon on nothing but bone-broth, Cheese, Salt and beef short-rib was totally within the realms of possibility.

Yep, you heard me right.

Zero sugar, gels, cookies, flat coca-cola, lollies, cake, sandwiches, cliff bars, tailwind or anything else that might act as glucose for my body to run on. AKA the opposite of what almost every endurance athlete would do.

Not entirely unheard of, even in my weird circles of influence, but certainly rare enough for me to not find anything on the net to reference or use as a guide on how to do it and not die.

I was flying completely blind here, but quietly confident that I could do it.

Professor Tim Noakes famously shredded some of the pages of his Ultramarathon book “Lore of Running” after discovering that many of the distance runners following his advice, started to develop type 2 diabetes, himself included. https://www.amazon.com/Lore-Running-4th-Timothy-Noakes/dp/0873229592

So on August 1st 2021 at 7 am, after consuming a black coffee and a 400-gram cape grim scotch fillet, I set off shirtless, for what would be my sixth ultra-marathon length race.

Alongside faithful running buddy and close mate Sam Skinner, we proceeded to knock off one lap after another (13 in total) of the 3.8km loop of the beautiful botanical gardens and tan running track.

I wanted to prove that this amazing body we live in, is more than capable of fuelling such a physically demanding event with nothing more than fat as its energy source.

I also wanted to gauge my recovery after reducing much of the inflammatory response that refined carbohydrates produce in the body.

Full disclosure, I also included several black coffees before and during the race and supplemented them with 3 tablets of therapeutic hydrogen tablets by Dr Mercola. https://products.mercolamarket.com/molecular-hydrogen/

These supposedly reduce the oxidative stress on the body and improve recovery time. It’s midday the next day as I write this and I have to say, I’m feeling damn good for someone who trained less than 25km a week for the last three months!

I registered blood glucose and ketone readings using a through the race, with a starting ketone reading of 0.3mmol. My blood glucose was 5.3mmol (blood sugar is usually higher at this time of the morning. Often referred to as the “Dawn effect”

It reached as low as 3.3mmol after the race (which is considered very low for your average human…I suppose I’m not that average?) but I never felt any ill effects from that number.

My beautiful Anna acted as crew for her third stint, a role she is getting increasingly good at and for a huge fee is available for your race needs!

Behind every great runner is an even greater Woman they say J!

Sports Medicine Guru, Professor Peter Brukner (who was Cathy Freeman’s minder when she won gold at the 2000 Olympics) unofficially supervised my run and probably showed up to see if what I was attempting was even humanly possible! I was in pretty good hands if something did go wrong!

Top ten in the world for his age group in the half Ironman triathlon, Andre Obradovic even ran a lap or two with us. His contribution, the many packets of LMNT salt that we consumed throughout the journey (approximately 10,000 mg of sodium, 5000 magnesium and potassium). Salt is your friend, not your enemy btw.

It wasn’t perfect. I walked a little throughout the run due to soreness, took longer than I should have at the aid station, and was undertrained for this race by a longshot, but we finished in no less than 6:37:38

30 miles/50kms on less than 200grams of Jarlsberg cheese, 1.5 litres of homemade beef bone broth and salt.

Not once did I get close to fainting, passing out or experiencing chronic energy shortage.

I took three toilet pitstops throughout (just weeing J), my legs were naturally sore (as were a few other parts of my body), but the engine component and fuel source acted perfectly.

After the race, my blood ketone reading was 2.2mmol. To give you some comparison, after 72 hours of fasting the week before, my ketones only went as high as 1.6mmol.

Deep nutritional ketosis they call that (between 0.5 and 3.0mmol, so perfectly safe).

And to make this even more interesting, I didn’t develop any hunger until 7.30 pm that night. My first meal post-run? 9 x 150-gram grass-fed beef patties and cheese from my fav burger joint Royal Stacks….Yum!

So why are you telling me this Laban, I don’t care about running or eating just meat.

This has little to do with running or steak.

But what it does have to do with is this.

The next time someone tells you something is impossible…. just remember this little story I’ve shared with you today and make up your own mind before making any decision one way or another.

Exciting shots from my 50 km fun run

Ready for the race with my handy electrolyte energy drink mix on hand
Ready for the race with my handy electrolyte energy drink mix on hand
Staying hydrated throughout the run
Staying hydrated throughout the run
Finally made it to the finish line!
Finally made it to the finish line!
Blood Glucose and Ketone after the run
My blood ketone level after the run
Blood Glucose level after the run
My blood glucose level after the run
Overall running stats
Running stats from Laban's 50 km run
Running stats from my 50 km ultramarathon
A very well-deserved meal
A very well-deserved meal

Published by Laban Ditchburn

New Zealand born, Australian citizen with a fresh perspective on life after conquering addiction in all its forms. Ultra-marathons, self-experimentation and extreme mental challenges are my new jam. Seeing other human-beings push their own mental, physical and spiritual boundaries is one of life's great gifts. Whilst continuing my own quest for self-improvement, I thrive in working with those that are willing to make their own changes for the better. Also, I eat steak like it's going out of fashion.

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