A good friend/former training partner emailed me about a new product she came across: the Hydrapouch. Yes, that's "hydra" with an "a", as in a giant, mythical serpent, and not hydro with an "o." (Hydropouch was already taken by a company that seems to make either energy drinks or pouches for energy drinks or maybe both?)
From what I could glean off of the website, this is a product that is easier to drink from than traditional cups. Therefore, it will improve your race times (you'll have to spend less time stopping/walking at aid stations) and cut down on waste by reducing the number of disposable cups that are used at races. Saving money for race directors, saving time for runners, saving the environment - a win/win, no? Well... sort of. Unless the race is completely hydropouch/hydropour compatible, you'll still be taking a paper cup and pouring it into your hydropouch. And also? The pouch will set you back $17, so it doesn't really save money - it just passes the cost of cups onto the runner.
The website is full of that unique brand of business writing that uses too many words to say not much at all. For instance: "The patented HydraPouch® personal hydrator is the first beverage container of its kind. Its unique design has been specifically optimized to improve a racer’s entire “hydration experience” during a road or trail race." For what that means and how it works, you have to watch a series of youtube clips on the website.
I could see this system (hydropour and hydropouch) being useful at a smaller race, a trail race, or any other race where the runners might be spread out and staffing the water stations with several volunteers might be overkill. I'm biased in this regard, since even a small race in New York draws thousands of runners. Then again, the Bolder Boulder is going cup-free* this year, so I'll be curious to hear how that works out.
Again, though, my bottom line is price. At $17 for something you can only use while racing, the price is steep. I'm leery of the price creep that is effectively making racing cost-prohibitive for many people. Also, for me, in longer races I don't mind the break that the water stations provide, and in shorter races I don't need to stop for water. Still... I'll admit... I'm curious. I kind of want to try it. I've spent $17 on stupider things.
*Or not. From what I can understand, they're having Hydropour stations in addition to traditional aid stations.