For long distance races (eg. half/full marathons), where runners are at risk of depleting their gylcogen reserves, what you are really looking for is simple carbs that are easy to digest, and will start releasing energy into the bloodstream in as little as 20 minutes.
Bananas are mid-range in the gylcemic index (mix of simple and complex carbs), and protein bars take hours to digest.
Both have considerable merits in terms of supporting exercise in general, but in the specific context of the original posters question about topping up their tank mid-race, gummy bears and the like are probably a better solution to that specific problem.
To the original poster - can you do some digging and find out what the glycemic index of the tabs is? You should be looking for something above 70 for your purposes.
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