Marathon - belt or no belt

Am doing my first marathon next year.

So far have only done half marathons and I usually fuel myself with a couple of Go-Gels and a Powerade drink, which I carry in my hands around the course.

Looking at the marathon, would probably need 4-5 gels - got big hands, but not that big !

Not sure I could run with a belt on - anyone use one ?



  • I run with a bumbag-type pouch, have no problem with it. My b-i-l has a SIS gel belt that hold about a dozen gels (I think) that he recommended, when he did his marathon.
  • I have seen a few people who tape their gels onto their arms with plaster and then rip them off as they use them. Haven't tried it myself but it seems like a good idea.
  • What about your arm hair !!!

    Maybe the pain of pulling the plaster off puts you off the pain of the marathon ???

  • I've used an SIS gel belt and an IronMan tri number belt and interestingly enough the IronMan belt was better for holding SIS gels because the loops were slightly tighter.  When I tried the SIS belt for the Paris marathon I thought I'd be using the pouch for holding a couple of gels but I found it bounced up and down too much.  They're a lot more stable in the loops.  Unfortunately I was standing on the start line on the Champs Elysees when I found out, so had some panic last minute gel reconfiguration to sort out!

    There's a lesson there - whatever gel carrying strategy you go for, try it out in a long run or preferably warm-up race before the marathon.

  • I just stuck some shot blox in the back pocket of my shorts.
  • I've used a (an?) SiS belt for a couple of marathons. Always worth checking the loops are all firmly stitched before race day - I've had to get out a sewing kit and refasten a couple on race eve (easy to fix). Only trouble I have is that it can get a bit uncomfortable as I tend to bloat up with all the sport drink. For that reason I prefer (when I'm proper trying for a time not ambling round) races where you can put your own drinks out. Attach a gel to each drink with a rubber band and then nothing to carry!

    London doesn't let you put your own drinks out but Berlin does, so does Abingdon (drinks tables not all that frequent, mind, but you can always put extra out on the course the night before I suppose), so does Eindhoven (an undiscovered jewel among marathons).

  • PS 4-5? I use 7!
  • Sports Beans are easier to carry in a key pocket and far easier to eat and digest.

  • I bought a SIS belt with my first marathon in mind next year, despite Wiggle saying it was fully adjustable it is too tight for me, I'm about 36" waist, so unless you are 34" or less I would try something else

    I also bought a Hilly armband that holds 3 or 4 which I may use, trouble is the gels felt a bit heavy when grouped together and I was worried the sweat would not escape easily from my upper arm

    I hope to have someone at the 17/18 mile point with 3 or 4 gels to pass to me so I won't need to carry more than 4 at any time

    I may even try safety pinning some to my shorts (or cap/hat/vest)

    I will try various things in the coming weeks as my training runs increase and hope to find a solution

  • Agree with MB ...... the jelly beans are far less messy!   Tried out gels on a longer run in pre HM training and I ended up a sticky mess!   Opted for the jelly beans on the day; easier to carry too as they fitted in my pocket.

  • I used a sis gel belt for my first (and only) marathon. I found it hung a little low but it was fine with a gel or two in training. But when fully loaded I also found it became far too bouncy and hoping for the best ended up with me losing half of my gels. Luckily managed to find the OH and get him to buy emergency jelly babies.
  • KeirKeir ✭✭✭

    So many different ways to carry gels. I must admit that I don't know how people manage carrying loads of them all in their hands the whole way!

    Lots of people slate the SiS belts, but they can be adapted and improved. Luckily for me my wife is handy with a needle and thread and she has sewn 2 elastic loops either side of my short, on the waist band over the hips. Unde these she has also sewn a small pocket. I can fit 2 gels either side in the loops with their bottom halves sitting in the pockets. I carry 2 other gels, 1 to neck 30 secs to go on the start line, 1 to have around the 6m mark.

    I echo PPs point of fully trying your intended strategy way in advance of the race.

  • A couple of safety pins through the sis belt into your waistband helps with the bouncing.
  • seems to me things would be much easier if the gel makers incorporated a loop on the gel wrapper that could be broken when force was applied to it

    would make for a far simpler belt that didn't need elastic loops that fall apart as soon as a gel goes near it

  • I carry my camelbak, 2 litres of water with nuun tabs, don't use gels and always carry jelly babies. Also means I can carry phone, keys .. etc
  • SIS belt for me too.  It is a bit tricky to load as you have to push the gels into elastic loops.  There is a little bounce if you fully load it (it takes upto 8 - so just load it with the amount you plan to use).  If it is carrying about 5 gels then it is stable on the pelvis, light and barely noticable.
  • Can anyone help with ideas for carrying water? Hate carrying those handheld bottle, but don't think those bumbag things with a space for a water bottle look very comfy!

    Training for first marathon and getting a bit thirsty after 14 miles!!! image

  • I have a Nathan balt. I also have a very small bottle that fits into the Nathan Belt. It is designed to carry 5 gels - you just squeeze them in before the start of the race. I have never actually used gels or any type of fueling for races. I just use it for water+electrolyte mix.

    The belts are fine - again, Nathan do a ladies belt which is obviously smaller than the mens belt, even so, I wear mine on my hips. They come with a variety of different number of water bottles. and bottle sizes.

    I don't bother with anything most of the time. Don't feel the need.


  • I really don't like the SiS belt, far too much bounce. Done a couple of maras using it then bought a Hilly waist pack. Only fits about 5 SiS gels but perfect for me.

  • Dill 1973 wrote (see)

    I really don't like the SiS belt, far too much bounce. Done a couple of maras using it then bought a Hilly waist pack. Only fits about 5 SiS gels but perfect for me.

    Agree with the bounce Dill. I got a SIS belt before London and thought I'd try it out as a few people had told me about them falling out. Someone even joked there was no need taking any gels with you as there will be loads strewn on the road in the first mile. I decided to try it out and none of them fell out, but I was amazed at the overall weight with 5 SIS gels in there. Interesting about the Hilly version - I'll check that one out.
  • Yea really don't like the SiS belt. This is the Hilly belt I wear.

  • I bought some tutu mesh off ebay, got a needle and thread out and sewed two gel shaped pockets down each side of an old base layer, worked a treat so far

    may not look pretty (especially my sewing) but seems to work and more secure and lighter than a belt and no bouncing so far, will have to try it out on a top layer before adding them to my best summer running tops

  • Another vote here for the Hilly belt. I've used mine nearly every day for the past three years including London mara when I squeezed about 7 gels into it. I would say though that the whole gel thing is a bit of a pain - I'm gonna try and find alternatives next year.
  • I saw a guy with a run & trail belt last month at the Stebbing 10 & thought it looked a good bit of kit so brought one - so far so good, it's basically a adjustable elasticated belt with 4 small flask type bottles and a couple of pouches for keys & such.I'm glad I have it, should have got one ages ago!  

  • Well I went for the SIS belt. Am about a 36" waist - would agree with an earlier comment that it is a bit snug !

    Hopefully as I've got a couple of months solid training until the marathon in March, will have slimmed down a bit so it fits better !!

    Will try it out on my long run this weekend and see how it goes.

  • Stop the SIS belt bouncing by tucking it into your shorts. Simples!
  • I take 4 and carry them in my hand with a drink as well.
  • Could you not use one of those waist belts that carry small bottles,and simply squeeze    

    4 or 5 gels into one of them or maybe water some down a bit..?

    any one do this?


  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    I had a high5 belt for MK mara on Monday, i was very wasteful once I had emptied it of gels I dumped it in a bin i was passing! silly but hey it cost £6 and it was worth it for the minscule psychological boost it gave me, dumping everything for the last push. Heheimage

  • 4 or 5 gels ain't a lot of liquid so don't know why not empty the lot into one small bottle..?


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