Professional ultra-runner Scotty Hawker has credited CurraNZ for his sensational career revival, leading him to ditch thoughts of retirement at 36.
The Christchurch athlete was considering stepping down from professional running as recently as June before a sensational turnaround in form reignited his career ambitions of reaching World No1.
He says: “CurraNZ has been a great find that has absolutely changed my capacity to do the work required and it’s shown me that my best days may be yet to come as a professional athlete.”
A top-15 finish in the 100-mile UTMB World Series Final in Europe and a record-breaking win in the 250km six-day stage race across the Atacama Desert in Chile three weeks later has proven to Scotty there’s more to come in his career.
The ultra-marathoner has been a regular on the global running scene for the last decade, having mixed it with the best and competed in six renewals of Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc, the holy grail in ultra-endurance running, held in France every September.
Scotty has made his name as one of the world’s leading trail runners, finishing second at the UTMB – the ‘World Cup’ of trail running - CCC (100km) in 2021 and third in the UTMB 100-miler in 2019.
But a ‘DNF’ in last year’s UTMB and poor early-season form in the first half of 2023 had led him to think seriously about stepping down, until discovering CurraNZ.
Scotty says: “I was definitely having doubts about continuing my professional career in the first half of this year, when several poor performances had me questioning my body’s ability to train and race at the level required. It forced me to regroup and change my season focus.
“It doesn’t matter what sport you’re in, everyone has a shelf life and you get to the point when you can’t compete at the top level – and I thought I’d reached that stage.”
After observing US and Kiwi professional athletes and close friends Hayden Hawks, Ruth Croft, Dan Jones and Caitlin Fielder using the CurraNZ supplement in the lead-up to UTMB, Scotty followed suit - and his blackcurrant revival began. Despite a late race blow up with 10km to go, he still finished 15th in a field of 1,757 in the 100-miler.
He says: “I was looking at a top-five finish until dehydration and lack of calories meant I self-destructed on the final climb, having been sitting in seventh, but that result has given me confidence to come back next year.
“Without a doubt CurraNZ legitimately works – the benefits became apparent soon after starting it in July. I had one of my best training blocks ever going into UTMB and now my training metrics are showing that I’m actually getting faster. But the recovery has been 100% better, which is huge for my training. I have no doubt this is enabling me to get back to the level required and I know the other pros swear by it too.”
After UTMB, came domination in the desert
With his sights also set on trying ‘something new’ in multi-day stage ultra-endurance marathons, Scotty needed to qualify for the iconic Last Desert race in Antarctica by completing the Atacama Crossing just three weeks after UTMB.
Adding to the lack of recovery time, he returned to New Zealand with a bout of Gastro which added in several trips to his GP in Christchurch and then the challenges continued to mount when a heatwave struck Chile.
“At the Atacama Crossing race briefing we were told we were heading for a heat wave and temperatures would be close to 10 degrees hotter than normal.
“On day four it reached 54 degrees and the organisers had to cancel one of the stages, because it became apparent it wasn’t safe, although I was leading the field and managed to cover this particularly brutal 11km section in an hour and a half. The organisers realised it could take other runners up to six hours, they’d likely run out of water and had to stop the race.”
His initial ambition to ’just complete’ was turned on its head when he realised his body was responding impressively and the records seemed achievable.
“I ended up being quite a long way ahead in the race rankings, and it kept me motivated to try and break the records every day and keep things interesting, despite the heat wave.
‘I should’ve felt destroyed but I led the race from start to finish’
“I got carried away on the first day and blitzed it half an hour faster than expected. I got to the finish line, only to find it hadn’t been set it up yet. I ran in asking where the finish was, because the banners were on the ground and I wasn’t sure where to stop. The crew couldn’t believe it – it kept us laughing for the rest of the race.”
Fortunately for Scotty, CurraNZ became his secret weapon across the six days.
“I was taking six CurraNZ capsules each day and like UTMB, I felt really consistent, had fast recovery and felt great physically and mentally. Day after day I seemed to get stronger, which really got my competitive juices flowing – so I couldn’t help but attack the records.
“I was expecting to feel destroyed after UTMB but I was able to push hard, get the food in, wake up and go again every day. I’ve also seen improvements to my carb intake and tolerance too. I didn’t have a moment’s worry with the usual GI issues, which is unbelievable really, given how hard I pushed myself and the intensity of the conditions.
”I genuinely feel if I have my best day out at UTMB and it all flowed, there’s no doubt I can stand on top of that podium again and be the best in the world – and that’s my main goal for next year.”