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Archives for the day Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Many endurance athletes need water, electrolytes and carbs during a long event, and they can be difficult to consume on an unsupported solo run.  The use of a hydration belt may be necessary, and Fuel Belt currently leads the industry for runners, cyclists and triathletes.

Vinu Malik, Fuel Belt President & Founder of Fuel Belt and multiple-time Ironman, recently chatted with Alameda Runners about Fuel Belt.  Their products and the difficulty of ensuring each product can withstand being on the road for hours.

“Fuel Belt was the result of having a few hydrating moments during my first dozen Ironman races, Malik said during the chat.  “Back then (1990s) there were no comfortable hydration designs for runners.  Applying a little common sense to the development process went a long way.  The first Fuel Belts were not super stylish, but they functioned incredibly well.”

Working on the winning combination of a high-quality endurance product that is usable (read comfortable) has proven difficult, with Malik briefly discussing the methods he came up with.

“These things take time to get right because you need production partners who have the ability to listen, understand the function of the products and who understand the demands of our customers.  It really helped that I was a strong beta tester as I continued to train and race for Ironmans.”


The company now has its H2O collection of products, which Malik discussed.  “Our new H2O collection is a fully adjustable one-size fits all hydration belt.  It’s the first of its kind for our popular Helium collection.  Of course, we still have our award winning custom fit designs.  Each of these is like buying a pair of jeans: if you know your waist size, we have five sizes to choose from.”

Even with its H20 line, other Fuel Belt products have also sold well:  “All of our hydration belts are off the chart.  We pioneered the category, we continue to innovate and we are serious athletes.  Everything we make is tested countless times before it hits the market.  With multiple Hawaii Ironman wins and hundreds of other wins, the brand just continues to grow.”

Some companies have shown interest in creating disposable fuel hydration, but that’s a strategy unlikely to reach Fuel Belt.

I asked about the possibility of prepackaged containers for the belt that are disposable.  Something like a GU bottle.  His response- “We explored this route but the sheer cost of production at a sensible scale is very expensive.  More importantly, there’s no need to waste money on additional packaging.  The best thing I can say about a Fuel Belt is that it’s arguably the most reusable product a runner or triathlete will ever have.  That has a much higher value to us than preloaded flasks and bottles.  The world just doesn’t need that.”

In addition to selling products to athletes, Fuel Belt remains committed to the endurance community.

“Fuel Belt sponsors more than 900 events annually.  Many of those are tied to charities and fundraisers.  We are also the official hydration belt of Team in Training.  We give back 10% of all profits to TNT.  The number of good will sponsorships we support is beyond a number I can keep up with.”

Alameda Runners would like to thank Vinu for taking the time to answer our questions.  Keep up the great work at Fuel Belt!

If you’re coming from out of town and need a place to stay, the Marriott City Center Hotel in Oakland has special room rates and will give guests the ability to run the Oakland Twilight 5K on Saturday night (evening before half marathon and marathon).

The following was part of an e-mail sent out to all registered runners:

The e-mail is after the jump!