There you have it, recommendations from 300cals in Gels to 2,600cals!
Well you did ask for input... and here's my best, most dialed-in, self supported, training run nutrition from last year.
During this training run I PR'd, including the Ascent races I've done, because I didn't have to wait for the herd in the early going, nor dodge zombies at the top. Yeah, this is a tough race, and for more than one reason!
Breakfast was 739Cals of 4 Scoops Heavyweight Gainer 900 + Banana. That's
71.5% Carbs, 19.5% Protein, 9% Fat.
Drank a 90 Calorie Can of FRS on way to Manitou finishing just before getting out of car across street from the start.
Ate 120 Cals in the form of 1/2 a pre-broken PowerBar, as early as the first series of tiny downhills.
Drank another 460 Cals throughout the Ascent, in the form of 5 Scoops of Ironman Recovery in a handheld 24oz Bottle. 87% Carbs 13% Protein, and a ton of Sodium.
Had another 400 Cals in the form of 3 PowerBar Gels throughout, plus 1 Clif-Shot Gel with 50mg Caffeine at Barr Camp, the halfway point.
That's 980 on-trail Calories. Plus Breakfast & the FRS for a grand total of 1809Cals, before I got Donuts at the top!
Also took 4 Endurolyte Tabs (If I wasn't using the Powerbar Recovery with 250mg of Sodium a serving I would have taken SaltStick Tabs).
And drank ~65oz Water, (in overfilled 50oz Pack) and Drank it ALL.
You can get away with carrying 'less' water during the race (though you still need a bottle to carry SOME especially after Barr Camp to A-Frame) because they HAVE water on the course, but I finished in 4:2X, very near the midway point of overall time for the Ascent last year, and they were OUT of Gatorade at the Cirque when I got there, and for everyone behind me. So you better have your own nutrition when you need it most- and bonking at 13,000ft with no sports drink at the aid station and another Mile (35mins to an hour+) to go IS WHEN YOU NEED IT THE MOST!
The last 3 miles can take 1.5 to 3Hours+ for mid-to-back-of-packers so plan accordingly!
Best of Luck!
It is not a complaint that the Cirque is out of Gatorade, or that it is crowded in the W's, but it is (often if not always) true and you should plan for it. The Volunteers do incredible work to get ANYTHING to the middle of the Mtn and us and it all back off. So the crowding, and aid stations running out, and the date of the race being on the cusp of bad weather on the Peak, those are givens.
I've worked hard to dial in a nearly self-sufficient Nutrition strategy, and I think the HydraPour system is a winner and hope it is adopted with multiple pour-stations per Aid Station.
All told this race goes off unbelievably well, and I always say "Thanks for coming out" to the volunteers & Search and Rescue folks... cause someday we may actually need 'em!
In response to:
Do folks have recommendations for calorie/food intake during (and I guess pre-race on race day) the Ascent?
I will be a flatlander Ascent rookie in August. I'll done a fair number of half and trail half marathons, but only 1 full maration and rarely take more than gatorade for the halfs. In the full, the first 20 were remarkably comfortable, but I bonked pretty good at around 22. I slowly consumed 3 gels over between miles 6 and 18 and have no idea if that was an appropriate amount. Thoughts are appreciated.