A recent article on the Telegraph website reports that researchers at St Louis University in America found out that runners are about 3% faster on a 5 km treadmill run after having beetroot rather than cranberries. In fact, this has already been demonstrated in 2009 by researchers from Exeter, who compared beetroot to blackcurrent.

Nitrates in beetroot apparently dilate blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and making oxygen usage more efficient. This leads to being able to run longer (by 16% according the 2009 study) or faster, but both studies were limited to short runs/rides. What about marathons and beyond?

My main concern with eating a large amounts of beetroot before or during an ultramarathon is that beetroot colours the urine into red. What looks like a funny side effect might actually be problematic in diagnosing long distance running related injuries such as rhabdomyolysis (muscle destruction) and/or kidney failure, which are typically characterised by darker urine colour.

How long before a gel/bar/sport drink is marketed "with beetroot extract"?

Ultra root