Badlands, the place where the Styrkr journey began.

sam william andrews at badlands gravel race

The challenging terrain, scorching heat, and towering mountains served as an ideal proving ground for our founder, Christian Sanderson, during the development of the Styrkr range in 2021. In 2023, our brand manager, Sam, embarks on his own desert adventure to put some exciting new products to the test.

Sam's Badlands story🚴

I embarked on this journey with a single goal at the beginning of the year: to win the pairs category and secure a spot in the top 10. This race is infamous for its scorching heat, but we were fortunate to encounter storms and cooler temperatures, something we didn't stress about, coming from the UK.

sam badlands spain cycling in the heat

Our game plan was to maintain a consistent pace throughout the race. The start was intense, but we knew not everyone could sustain that speed. As night fell, we steadily overtook riders left and right, comfortably securing a position in the top 10 overall. We battled fiercely for the pairs position, sometimes wondering if first place was within reach.

sam cycling badlands race

Upon reaching Almería, we pushed hard up the climbs, creating a substantial gap between us and the pursuing pairs.

The last 100km proved to be the most grueling challenge I've ever faced. I experienced hallucinations, struggled to stay awake on my bike, and felt disoriented.

Crossing that finish line was an emotional triumph. We achieved our goal, rode efficiency, and the relief of finally completing this arduous journey was overwhelming.

The significance of nutrition couldn't be overstated for this brutal race. My preparations had left me with a serious space constraint. Before setting out on this journey, I teamed up with Leon Styrkr’s head of nutrition to craft a meticulously detailed fuel plan that would ensure I had the energy I needed to conquer every mile. The result? A strategic allocation of a whopping 2,680 grams of carbohydrates, perfectly tailored to my needs.

styrkr energy gels being poured

My carbohydrate arsenal for this epic venture was nothing short of impressive. I carried 500 grams of gel meticulously divided into two convenient running flasks. Additionally, I had a stockpile of ten BAR50 bars, sixteen MIX90 sachets, and eight GEL30 Caffeine/Nitro, all strategically stashed away for those crucial moments when my body would need an extra boost.

The sweltering heat added another layer of complexity to my nutrition strategy. To combat dehydration and replenish vital electrolytes, I brought along not one but two tubs of SLT07. But I wasn't stopping there; I had five handy sachets of SLT05 at the ready, ensuring that I had every base covered when it came to hydration.

hydration salts

As I navigated the arduous course, real food options were few and far between. Nevertheless, I had planned for this as well. At specific intervals along the route, I paused to refuel with real food, mainly Bocadillo’s. The race unfolded with its ups and downs, but I felt surprisingly good for the majority of it, a testament to the careful planning and execution of my nutrition strategy. With just 10 kilometres left to go, I reached for my final gel, savouring the knowledge that I had conquered the nutritional aspect of this incredible challenge!

Thank you, Badlands, for an unforgettable first ultra experience!

sam badlands spain hill climb gravel race

Sam William Andrews and his pair rider Jesse Yates won Badlands 2023 and secured a top 10 overall with a time of 01d | 21h | 28m!
They slept for a total of 20 minutes and faced some of the most challenging terrain in Europe. What a performance guys, congrats! - Christian

📷credit: @albertoviciana

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