Level with 4 miles to go and finished 4 minutes ahead of him says poor training on his part than you winning with gels! Or did you run the last 4 a minute per mile quicker than your average pace before then? I doubt it..
I'm not against gels, i use them myself for marathons only but never see them as a shortcut to proper nutrition and carbo loading.
It's as simple as a big pasta meal with some garlic bread on a Saturday night, a bowl of porridge & honey 2 hours before my long run Sunday morning and I'm good to go for a 2 & half hour 20 miler with just a 500ml bottle of water to keep me going on the way round.
Gels / drinks / sachets / fuels etc are all a fad and convenience for not preparing in advance. What do you think they did in the days of a few cups of water around the London marathon course?!
Build up your miles and prepare in advance and your body will soon adapt.
For just running in I've got adidas, 2XU and Nike. All the same, these are for winter training only and just serve a purpose to keep the legs warm.
I did shell out about £60 this year during marathon training for a pair of Skins recovery and travel compression tights which seem to make a difference after a long run, race or fast session. I dont run in these.
I'm neutral and had Asics Cumulus series from 11 to 13 and found them very good but now the last 3 pairs I've bought are adidas Supernova Glide series.
I've found the adidas runners lighter with less cushioning so it took a while to adapt from the Asics which now feel too soft.
I did accidently buy a pair of Adidas Supernova 'Sequence' which are structured and support, as a neutral runner these were no good, felt awful and gave me real problems. So I would advise you to avoid these..