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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Backpacker editor hospitalized

Suffers glycemic shock from new GU product

Longtime Backpacker editor and adrenaline junkie Jonathan Dorn has been stabilized but remains in a coma at the Foothills Hospital ICU unit in Boulder, Colorado, announced AIM President Andrew Clurman in a short statement to the Outdoor Group's staff this morning. "Jon was rushed to emergency room last night after suffering sudden convulsions while training on an elliptical machine for the annual BAAR Brawl adventure race in San Francisco," Clurman said. "According to Dr. Wright of the Foothills endocrinological institute, it appears that he went into full liver shutdown due to a glycemic shock brought out but a sudden influx into his system of concentrated complex-chain carbodydrates, which is basically a fancy term for a sugar overdose. He has not regained consciousness, possibly because he hit his head on a Stairclimber while falling, but doctors say his vital functions, including brain activity, are stable."

When contacted by this reporter at the hospital, Dorn's wife, Heather, confirmed this account and told us that shortly before her husband started convulsing and stumbled from the machine, losing consciousness, he had applied liberal amounts of a prototype electrolyte cream developed by GU, the well-known energy-gel and energy-drink manufacturer. "I saw him spreading the stuff on his chest, then his belly and lower back, which he said would produce optimal absorption into the bloodstream," she recalls. "When he pulled off his compression sleeves and started spreading it on his arms and calves, I got a little worried. He's can take things a bit too far, you know? And who knows what the combination of transdermal electrolytes, compression, and threshold training can do? It's an untested area of physical endurance. But that's Jon--he wouldn't listen when I told him to stop lubricating."

This reporter has identified the working name of the product that Dorn was using as GU's Dermacharge Topical Electrolyte & Energy Infusion Gel. A half-empty tube of the "Intense Butter" flavor cream was found on the floor next to Dorn's body when paramedics arrived. It has the viscosity and slightly sticky texture of melted cream cheese. The taste is actually quite pleasant -- we could imagine spreading it on toast.

Dorn's current prognosis, according to his wife, is guardedly unknown but fairly optimistic. "Dr. Wright is telling us that his liver just needs time to flush all the aminos and sucrose, and shouldn't suffer any permanent damage. It's even possible that the systemic shock might boost his metabolism by resetting his tolerance for rapid cellular energy infusion. Again, we're in uncharted territory here, but this could actually wind up making Jon the athlete he always wanted to be. Until he wakes up, it won't be clear if he's lost some function or if this is his Peter Parker moment."

Colleagues in the Backpacker offices are worried and stunned. "Jon is a known GU-aholic," says executive editor Dennis Lewon. "I've seen him squeeze four packets at once into his mouth while racing, so I can easily see him slathering on too much Dermacharge." Senior editor Shannon Davis adds, "This stuff sounds like Four Loko for the adventure set. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on some."

At press time, GU representatives were unavailable for comment. We will continue trying to reach them, and to provide more details as Jon's condition improves. Until then, please join us in saying a prayer for his speedy recovery.

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