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Running an ultra trail race on cupcakes

Let’s talk about nutrition. Let’s talk about sweets. Let’s talk about something yummy and nutritious. Let’s talk about running an ultra marathon on cupcakes. Cupcakes made for … um … cyclists.

Okay, I didn’t finish the Grand Trail du Saint-Jacques, the 80 kilometres long (3.200m+) ultra trail in the South of France. But that had nothing to do with my nutrition, but all with a bad fall. One with a knee injury as result. However, I did run more than 66 kilometres, and climbed almost 3.000 metres, as the last 14 kilometres were just downhill. And I spent almost 11 hours on the trails.

For the first time, I did that, without my belly protesting. And more importantly, without a loss in energy. So running on cupcakes worked for me. However, these cupcakes aren’t your regular cupcakes. That has nothing to do with the fact that they aren’t round, but all with the fact that they are made for cyclists. To be precise for the cyclist of Team Jumbo-Visma; now called Team Visma | Lease a bike, a team that’s always ahead of its time when it comes down to optimizing performance.

Dutch bakery 

The cupcakes are made by Dutch bakery De Bisschopsmolen in Maastricht. That’s the city Tom Dumoulin lives; the winner of the Giro d’Italia of 2017. But that’s a different story. Dumoulin has nothing to do with these cupcakes. Except maybe for eating them.

Who has something to do with the energy bars are the nutritionists of Jumbo-Visma and the specialists of the Maxima Hospital in Veldhoven. Together they created a cupcake that’s not just nice to eat alongside a cup of coffee, but also nutritious for athletes.


A big plus for me – besides the yummy taste – is that I can swallow them away easily. Okay, this might sound weird, but if you’ve ever run 10 hours in the sun, you probably know you don’t have much saliva anymore. I tried lots of energy bars, but I just can’t get them away, after 5 hours of running. That’s why I always switch to gels at the end of a race.

Not everything is great about the cupcakes from De Bisschopsmolen. According to their packaging they contain 51,23 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams. As one cupcake is 60 grams, that means roughly 31 grams of carbs per cupcake. That’s not a lot. To get 60 grams of carbs per hour, you need to eat one every half hour.

A kilo of cupcakes

Banana cupcake from bakery De BisschopsmolenAs I was running the Grand Trail du Saint-Jacques without crew, it meant I had 16 cupcakes with me. That’s almost a kilo of cupcakes. On top of that I had five Maurten gels of 160 grams with me for the last couple of hours. Not the lightest solution. But I prefer to eat, what my stomach can handle. These cupcakes go down well.

It does mean, I didn’t eat anything at the refreshments posts, except for a piece of orange at post three – 31 kilometres into the race – and some lentil soup with plain macaroni at refreshment post four – 47 kilometres into the race. Just to have some real food in my belly.

Isostar and Näak

To drink, I started out with Isostar, as I prefer their lemon flavoured sports drink. At every refreshment post I refilled one soft flask with water and the other one with Näak, as that’s the sports drink offered at UTMB races.

If mixed correctly Näak says half a litre of their sports drink is good for 55 grams of carbohydrates. I had roughly 4 half litres of Näak during my 10+ hours of running. That’s another 22 grams of carbs per hour. Making it a total of 80 grams.

Four varieties

But let’s get back to the cupcakes. They come in four different tastes: banana-chocolate, chocolate, muesli-nuts and muesli-fruits. Chocolate is my favourite, but too sticky during hot days, so I only had banana-chocolate (pieces) with me.

I generally order them online. If you do – and can, depending on where you live – keep in mind that they can only be kept outside the refrigerator for 7 days. In the refrigerator they will last 21 days. If you freeze them, you can keep them for 26 weeks. I generally have a bunch in my freezer and move them over to my fridge if I’ve made my training plan for the week.

Train your gut

Last, but not least; we all react differently to different types of food and have (or hopefully for you not) our own sensitivity to food. These cupcakes from De Bisschopsmolen work for me. They don’t have to work for you. The only way to find out, is to use them in your training first. Never try something new in a race. Always train your gut and let your stomach get familiar with food you want to use during the race.

That’s it. Keep on running.


Disclaimer: This is an independent review. I've paid for the cupcakes of de Bisschopsmolen myself and I have no connection with the bakery.

Always try new food in training first, never try something new during a race


Olive Oil
Cocoa Mass
Cocoa Butter
Natural Vanilla
Soy lecithin
Soy milk
Baking powder

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