accessibility mode: off
Decade In Review at GU Energy Labs

A Look Back To Look Ahead

The end of the year, and particularly the end of a decade, is a perfect time to step back and reflect on all that has changed in your life, all that you’ve accomplished, and everything you’ve learned. For us? 10 years ago, we were a teenage company that had just launched the first version of our ROCTANE Energy Drink Mix. Over the past ten years, we’ve created 29 new Energy Gel and ROCTANE Energy Gel flavors, and along the way, we’ve supported the protection of public lands with the Conservation Alliance, supported athletes through the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and inspired kids to get on bikes with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. We’ve helped fuel countless PRs and podium finishes, and we’re incredibly proud of everything our community of endurance athletes have accomplished.

As this decade comes to a close, we wanted to check in with some of our pro athletes to find out what they’re most proud of and let them reflect on the past ten years.

What accomplishment are you most proud of from the last ten years? How have you changed and grown over the last decade?

 

 


Rob Krar

Proudest Accomplishment:

My biggest accomplishment the past decade was overcoming what should have been a career ending injury the summer of 2017 to win the Leadville 100M just over a year later. Undoubtedly, it was the most meaningful race of my life.

Thoughts On The Last Decade:

Funny story... a few days before my first ever 50-mile race, which just happened to be a qualifier for the prestigious Western States 100, a friend asked me half-jokingly if I would race Western States if I qualified. I laughed out loud and said no, running 100 miles is crazy. It was the beginning of a mantra I remind myself of often: never say never.

 


Erin Huck

Proudest Accomplishment

Winning National Champs in Cross Country and Short Track Cross Country for the first time in 2016.

Thoughts On The Last Decade:

For a while there, before I truly realized how cool mountain bike racing was, I thought I could be a marathon runner. I had the goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon-which I did, but I never registered because I decided to sign up for a mountain bike race instead!

 


Max King

Proudest Accomplishment:

From the past 10 years, I would say my two World Championship titles:

  • 2011 - Mountain Running World Champion - Tirana, Albania
  • 2014 - World 100k Champion - Doha, Qatar

 

Thoughts On The Last Decade:

The end of another decade already. I can't believe it! Not much has changed other than a little gray hair. Oh, and kids. Maybe the gray hair is from the kids?

 


Alison Tetrick

Proudest Accomplishment:

It has officially been 10 years since I began racing bikes professionally. I have lost far more races than I have won. I am most proud of continuing to get to those start lines and challenge myself to be better. Sport is about resilience and doing your best, not always about your results.


Winning Dirty Kanza in 2017 made a huge impact on my life and I am very proud of this 206-mile accomplishment. It tested my physical and mental limits more than anything I had ever done athletically, even after collegiate tennis and a career in road racing. It marked a turning point in my career where I got off of the roads and took a right turn onto all things gravel. It introduced me to a community that is now my family. It inspired me to continue to strive to break down barriers and push forward.

Thoughts On The Last Decade:

So much has changed in 10 years! 10 years ago, I was lining up to my first professional bike race. As I was anxiously awaiting the start, chewing on my nails, I wondered if I could even clip in to my pedals. My grandparents were there watching me. My grandpa was the one who encouraged me to bike race, and he was grinning ear to ear watching his granddaughter debut as a professional cyclist. I had forgotten socks and I had borrowed his jersey. Just as the race was about to start, the official said, "Hold on, this young lady has her number on upside down. Let's wait for her to fix it before we start." Some of the women chuckled as my grandparents said they would help and threaded through the pack to fix my number.

The gun went off, the race started, and just as I feared, I couldn't clip-in. The peloton sped away as I fumbled with my pedals. I heard my grandpa yell, "Just go, Ali!". And off I went! It was that easy. I eventually caught the race, and I kept pedaling by them just like grandpa instructed me, until I was the first to cross the finish line in victory!

It turns out that advice still holds true. Just go. Don't look back. The race is in front of you.

 


Eric Senseman

Proudest Accomplishment:

Winning the JFK 50 Mile in 2017. It’s the country’s oldest continuously run ultramarathon, and it was a long-time goal to win the race.

Thoughts On The Last Decade:

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2009 and qualifying for it was a really big deal for me. I ran 3hrs18 at the race that year. I now run faster through the marathon distance in trail/mountain races more than twice as long!

 


Sunny Stroeer

Proudest Accomplishment:

In 2018, I became the first woman to complete what's called the "360" Route on Aconcagua, running a 104km mountain trail & summiting the 22,838ft mountain in a 47.5hr solo push.

Thoughts On The Last Decade:

Ten years ago... I was 24, and mostly a couch potato. Not yet an ultrarunner, or a mountaineer; in fact, I was just getting ready to tackle my first-ever 14,000ft peak in the Swiss Alps - with my equally-non-mountain-athlete parents. We climbed the Breithorn, where you can take a cable car up to 12,500ft and then do a short but real glacier hike to the summit. We rented a rope and crampons, and we had one ice axe between the three of us which I got to carry since I was the young and strong one - except that I had no idea how to use it. We did make it to the summit and back, and as soon as we were back down, I signed up for my first mountaineering skills course.

 


YiOu Wang

Proudest Accomplishment:

My biggest accomplishment from the past 10 years is winning TNF 50 Mile this November. I have envisioned running this race for more than five years and it took four tries to even finish this event. It took me a long time to figure out the 50-mile distance, and I'm super proud of how well I can race it now. 

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

10 years ago, I had not even broken three-hours for the marathon! I was preparing for the Napa Valley Marathon and hoping to break three-hours for the first time. Looking back on that moment, I had no idea that ten years later I would be a professional runner. 

 


Kit Deslauriers

Proudest Accomplishment:

Being selected as the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2015.

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

In 2010, I was a new mother to an infant and toddler girls... fast forward to 2019, and they both starred in their debut ski film, Warren Miller’s 50th anniversary #TIMELESS!

 


Mike Wardian

Proudest Accomplishments:

In 2016, I ran and won the Rock & Roll Las Vegas marathon as Elvis in 2:38:04, setting a Guinness World Record.

Also in 2016, I set the record by doing all the Abbott World Marathon Majors (Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Berlin Marathon and New York Marathon) in an average time of 2:31:04.

 


Cherie Gruenfeld 

Proudest Accomplishment:

Athletically, my best moment came in the 2015 IRONMAN World Championship. I’d promised myself that if I had a good race, I’d retire from full-length IRONMANs. I was the defending champ and world record holder, so it would have to be a really big effort. I was first out of the water but got passed on the bike, so I started the run in second. And I stayed there for a long time. In the darkness of the Energy Lab, I thought I’d gone into first, but on exiting at Mile 19, I was dismayed to discover that I was actually half a mile behind. I dug down with everything I had and finally spotted the leader under the streetlamps of the Queen K with 1.3 miles to go. I made the pass just as we turned onto Palani and ended up with the win and a new course record.

Outside of athletics, my single proudest accomplishment overall in that last 10 years is the Exceeding Expectations Foundation for at-risk kids in San Bernardino. I started it in 2001, but the last ten years have been especially gratifying:

  • 100% high school graduation rate
  • 4 college graduates - 2 currently in graduate programs
  • 3 college graduations next Spring
  • 14 kids currently in college
  • 4 high school seniors now applying to colleges

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

At the 2017 Wildflower Long Course, a woman I passed on the run came up to me after the finish and congratulated me on a good race. Referring to my passing her, she leaned in close and said, “Just wait ‘til you’re my age.” She was 65, and I didn’t have the heart to tell I was 74.

Last year I was running in a canyon here in the desert and stopped to eat a GU. A woman caught up and asked about it so I told her the story and gave her one. As I started off, she said, “I used to run like you but I’m 63 now.”

Other Highlights:

  • USA Triathlon Hall Of Fame (2020)
  • USA Triathlon #1 age group ranking 5 of last 10 years
  • 2014 USA Triathlon Grandmaster of the Year
  • 6 IRONMAN World Championship first place age group finishes in seven races
  • 40 IRONMAN 70.3 first place age group finishes in 41 races, including 4 World Championships
  • And proud to have been one of the company’s earliest sponsored athletes and still one of its greatest advocates! 

 

 


Chloe Woodruff

Proudest Accomplishment:

My biggest accomplishment from the past decade came this year when I won a World Cup Short Track race in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czechia. 10 years ago, in 2009, I won my final D1 Collegiate XC National Championship title racing for the University of Arizona. Those two wins are a nice way to bookend the decade!


 


Bruckner Chase

Proudest Accomplishment:

“What we do IN the oceans makes us athletes.  What we do FOR our oceans and FOR our communities makes us Watermen and Waterwomen."

On August 26, 2010, I stood surrounded by press on a beach in Monterey having swum 25 miles across the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  The ultra-marathon swim highlighted NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary program, shared Seafood Watch’s work to preserver marine ecosystems and launch the BLUE International Film Festival.  After 14 hours of jellyfish, an entangled blue whale and Frodo the great white shark, I stood next to Michelle sharing stories of our experience while feeling that life was not going to be the same.  On that day we were following a passion that over the next decade became a global mission to positively impact our oceans and communities.

In August of 2019 NOAA National Weather Service launched their groundbreaking new film series, “Wave Safe with Bruckner Chase,” a multi-year documentary project that shared an ocean awareness and coastal safety message that resonated locally while speaking globally.  The films are expected to reach over 15 million people over the next twelve months alone and have a dramatic positive impact on the safety of those in, on or near all our diverse shores.

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

I began working in American Samoa in 2011 after NOAA had seen the reach and impact swimming through jellyfish for 14 hours in Monterey Bay could create.  I found a second family and home in the South Pacific, and my work led to being given a Samoan name and title as a Chief or Matai.  In a ceremony in my village of Aunu’u the name bestowed was, Uila o le Sami.   High Talking Chief Fuiava had watched me swim from his village and seen my passion for helping all of Samoa.  The literal translation of my new name is “Lightning in the Ocean.”  Apparently Uila o le Sami has a slang translation as well, “Jellyfish.”  Yep, with no knowledge of my experiences in Monterey Bay the Samoans had decided I should be Chief Jellyfish. 

 


Eli Kranefuss

Proudest Accomplishment:

My biggest accomplishment from the last 10 years is probably my 3rd place at USA Cycling XC nationals in 2015 as a junior.

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

At the beginning of the decade, I was 12 years-old, which is kinda crazy… At USA Cycling road nationals in Augusta, GA as a junior, I may have forgotten my cycling shoes at the hotel when it came time to fly home. As you may imagine, my parents weren’t too excited about having to buy me new cycling shoes. As a result, I’ve created a checklist I use when packing for races, and the list hasn’t changed much in those roughly 10 years that have passed!

 



Chicks Climbing and Skiing

Proudest Accomplishment:

The biggest accomplishment of Chicks Climbing and Skiing in the last ten years has been to climb a couple of first ascent of ice routes in Iceland with Chicks participants.

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

Ten year ago, Dianne Mielcarz was in her mid-fifties, one year out of retirement from the military, and living in Pensacola, FL.  She had never climbed and had no idea the changes her life was about to take when she met Chicks guide, Lindsay Fixmer, who took her ice climbing for the first time. She ended up selling her house, moving into her truck, and driving West. She has been with Chicks ever since and has summited Mt Baker, led numerous rock climbs, and last year she led her first ice climb. It’s never too late!

 


Geoff Kabush

Proudest Accomplishment:

I’ve had a ton of success over the last 10-years, but honestly, I think my biggest accomplishment is the fact I’m 42yrs old and still just absolutely love riding and racing my bike.

I’m lucky the events have evolved, and it is not just World Cup XC racing anymore. I love the diversity, challenge, and have really enjoyed racing and having success at events including MTB XC, Short Track, Endurance, Stage Races, Gravel, Cyclocross, Enduro, Skiing, and even Running. Staying healthy and eating well just feels good has been a big part of it. Thanks to GU for the support on this end. 

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

10 years ago I was still having fun riding my bike, but I had a lot more hair and longer sideburns. Now, it’s much simpler to cut my hair… just #1 all over. My bike, however, has changed in 10 years. In 2010 I had a progressive full-suspension, but it was 26in wheels, 110mm stem, no dropper post, and a tiny looking rear 11-36cassette. Perspective changes so quickly!

 


Zach Miller

Proudest Accomplishment:

My biggest accomplishment of the last 10 years would either be winning  CCC in 2015 to become the first American male to win any of the races in the UTMB series or winning back-to-back The North Face ECS 50 Mile Championships in 2015 and 2016.  I won in 2015 using a prototype Summit Tea ROCTANE Energy Drink that Magda mixed up in the lab and hand delivered to me the morning of the race (at the starting area). She gave me six servings, which was just enough to win the roughly six-hour race.  Good thing I didn’t run any slower!  I think the win in 2016 was the best race of my life so far.

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

Ten years ago, I was in my third year of college, running track and cross country at the Rochester Institute of Technology.  Six years ago, I was training for ultras while living and working on cruise ships.  I won both the 2013 JFK 50 and the 2014 Lake Sonoma 50 during that time and became known in the ultra-running world as “the cruise ship kid”.

 


Sarah Bowen Shea

Proudest Accomplishment:

My greatest "banner" athletic accomplishment of this decade was coming back from a major ankle fracture--in four places, that required surgery to insert metal pins on one side, a metal plate on the other--and 50 weeks later running the Boston Marathon. I'm not a pro athlete, so I did all this while working more than full-time as COO/podcast host of Another Mother Runner and mothering three kids.

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

Here's photo of me at a race expo booth in May 2010 – our group had two tee shirts and one book. Our Podcast didn't debut until July 2011. Now we have three books, an entire online store, online training programs, 80-women Retreats, an annual membership program, and we are coming up on EPISODE #400 of our podcast!

 


Jenny Smith
of Cannondale Women’s PRO MTB team

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

In 2010 I won the Amazon XTERRA in Brazil. It was the first triathlon ever held in the Amazon river basin. By winning, I become the first triathlete to ever win a triathlon held in the Amazon river period.

It was such a trip. It was held on the SIDS army base in the Amazon. We took an escorted bus and then Army ferry there from Manaus to the race. The racecourse had been worked on by the army and the marshals where all SIDS army soldiers. They told us during the bike and run - not to stop. And they were serious. Piousness everything along with largest concentration of panthers in Brazil. It was cool.

The race organizer pulled a piranha out of the water while we were swimming and fed it a pencil. 

Oh yeah of course I came home with diarrhea and had to cancel whatever upcoming race I’d been planning on - but totally worth it. 

The highlight of the trip was being taken by fly boats the day after the race to swim where the Rio Negra joins into the Amazon. The waters have different density, and they flow side by side before finally merging together further downstream. 

 


Sonya Looney

Proudest Accomplishment:

Being crowned 2015 24-Hour World Champion.

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

I was living in Colorado and just getting into endurance and ultra-endurance stage racing.  I also had just left my job as a solar engineer to do sales and marketing for one of my sponsors in the bike industry!  It was the first year I really started racing (and traveling for work) outside of Colorado.  Remember that 2010 was facebook and blogging days for the internet too!

 


Camelia Mayfield

Proudest Accomplishment:

2018 was the year when I felt like I could retire. I met goals I had been working toward for YEARS. Someone asked me after that year what else I wanted to do, and I honestly couldn’t answer because I felt like I had “made it.”  I had a huge breakout season by qualifying for Western States with a golden ticket at Lake Sonoma, earning a top 10 finish at Western States, then ending the year with a Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier. Of course, now I can say that there are bigger and better races, and I know I can also improve a lot!

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

For my 19th birthday (in 2012), I wanted to go 19 miles, the longest I had ever run to that point.  Jenn Shelton offered to guide me on a trail loop outside Ashland which of course probably had a few thousand feet of climbing and ended up being 20+ miles. Being inexperienced, I didn’t even bring a water bottle or nutrition. luckily Jenn had me covered and saved me with probably my first ever GU at mile 14 or so. I realized then how important fueling was! 

 


Luke Nelson

Proudest Accomplishment:

One of the highlights for the last 10 years is probably setting the Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Linkup FKT in Utah.

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

Ten years ago, I turned 30, and in September I ran the Wasatch 100. During a rough patch in the race, I kept hoping my wife would call and force me to stop. She wasn’t at the race. While she is always there crewing, this time she was at home 39 weeks pregnant with our daughter.  Fortunately, she didn’t go into labor during the race and our daughter was born a couple of days later!


 


Rose Grant

Proudest Accomplishment / Thoughts on the Last Decade:
I can’t help but go back to how Layla [Rose’s daughter] has been so deeply integrated into my cycling journey. I found MTB in 2011, received my Pro license in 2012, and became pregnant in June on 2012. 

Layla was born in March of 2013, at the very beginning of what has turned out to be an amazing career. She is by far my biggest accomplishment of the last ten years, and there is nothing that better captures my growth and time passing.


 


Crystal Wright

Proudest Accomplishment:

My biggest accomplishment in the last 10 years is winning the free skiing world tour in 2012. Another big one was being pregnant and giving birth to my little girl in 2018. Both were big feats for me mentally and physically!

Thoughts on the Last Decade:

In 2009, I won the free skiing tour and then went on to crash and burn in 2010, smashing my face and hurting my knee and shoulder!