Monday, November 26, 2007

Iditaconsumption: by the numbers

Below is a list of the consumables that I, errr, consumed en route to completing the 1,100 mile Iditasport Impossible race in February, 2000.

240 Clif Bars (do the math--that's an average of 16 bars per day...)
30 lbs of cookies (mostly fudge stripe, plus some chocolate covered grahams)
16 lbs of black licorice
10 tall cans of Pringles
10 lbs of red licorice
16 lbs of turkey jerky
30 lbs of candy bars; Twix, Snickers, Milky Way, Butterfinger, Three Musketeers, etc... (at this point of re-typing this list, my teeth are starting to hurt, and I'm no longer wondering why my dental bills have been steadily increasing...)
90 fruit roll ups
80 peanut butter and nutella burritos
15 lbs of cashews
15 lbs of turkey bacon
45 Pop Tarts

And while I wouldn't exactly call them consumables, the above could not have been ingested without these:
3 lbs of Tums
3 lbs of Flintstones childrens chewables.

To this day I have no idea how I ate all that in 15 days. It makes me feel bloated thinking about it. Even basic math skills can come up with an average of over 8 pounds of solid food per day. 8 pounds. Good god!

For those whose minds instantly leapt ahead to the next logical question, NO, I had no trouble staying regular out there... I credit the oil in the licorice for that...

And at the end of the race, once I'd checked into a room in Nome, showered, called home, and ditched all my extra clothing, I sought out a scale to learn that I had lost one pound in that 15 days. One.

In 2002 I used a very, very similar diet (but didn't write it down) to again complete the 1,100 miles to Nome. The only details that leap out from my hazy memory of that event are that I replaced the PB & N burritos from Y2K with bacon and Velveeta burritos. Typing that DOES elicit a gag reflex...

Oh yeah--in 2K2 I ditched the licorice in favor of an equal amount of gummy worms, and that was a stroke of brilliance. Of course they were frozen solid upon removing them from my pack, and of course if I accidentally dropped one on ice (which totally constitutes food abuse) it would shatter like glass. But if I could somehow wedge them into my mouth, a few short seconds in there would thaw them into their 'normal' chewy state, and that memory brings back a grin and not just a little bit of salivation.

Great stuff.




  1. That is incredible you almost ate your body weight.

  2. 16 clif bars per day!!! i've had about 16 of them i've been trying to use up for the past three months.

    that's pretty amazing you did the race to nome and lost only 1 pound.

    was this everything you were eating or were you also eating meals at lodges along the trail?

  3. That is a great list. I especially like the idea of frozen licorice. When I rode in the Susitna 100 I had a bunch frozen baggies of fruit snacks. I would stick the whole gob of them in my mouth and wait for the sugar to dissolve, because even the thawed mass was too big to chew. Once, I forgot I had stuffed some in my mouth and accidently drooled all those slobbery, sticky Shrek shapes down the front of my coat. Good times.

  4. own experience was not being able to taste anything after 10 days because my tongue was raw.

  5. Holy tooth rot!

    So let me get this ate no less than 120 lbs of...not sure I'd call it food...but somethin' ;) gave the same route a shot last year fully self-supported? And this 120 lbs is only the edible consumables, not to mention the fixed weight. Last year you must have started with a 200 lb rig - minimum. And you poked fun at my 18 lb pack at the GLR start, shame on you!

    Your definition of a challenge rings true.

  6. You left out one crucial detail....

    You listed 80 nutella/PB burritos. Were these gooey bits of heaven pre-fabbed or slathered in-situ?

    When you get around to writing a book.....I hope there is a chapter dedicated to diet.


  7. Did you have to do some sort of jaw muscle/gut endurance training prior to this?)

    Really amazing, I want to gag reading that list.

  8. That place looks slightly cold. I'm assuming your brought arm warmers? =)

    p.s. what did you use as a tortilla in your nutella and peanutbutter burritos?

  9. Mike, how much water, liquids do you think you drank?

    My teeth are still shaking from that list!

  10. I'm impressed you kept track at all. A very interesting piece for posterity (us).

  11. Ha! I remember eating a lot of that same sort of stuff on my self supported tours. You get that engine fired up and she just burns right through that stuff. Amazing, yes, but if you've done this sort of deal, not unthinkable.

    Your gummy bear dropped on the frozen surface and shattering brings me to a place where I was once in SoDak and I dropped a corner of a Pop Tart on the dirt. I wanted to cry! It was my last one in the bag that day!

  12. Maybe this is taking it too far - but calculating in the listed weight of things like Pringles and PopTars, and presuming each PB and Nutella Burrito was at least 4-6oz - that means 1 pound of food was consumed for ever 5.5 miles ridden - or 3oz of food per mile (which is a little more than the weight of one Clif Bar/mile).

    I'm going to put away my calculator now and just be bemused.

  13. well - at least it was all junk food.

    still cant believe you changed nutella for velvita

    whats the total calorie count?

  14. Mike - what about the tens of thousands of calories consumed at the cabins in town?!

    So, let's see, given the amount of crap you give me for eating one cliff bar every four hours on the Colorado Trail, I calculate that I'd need to eat about double what you've listed here. . . just to get to McGrath.

    Is your Snoots trailer available?

  15. Glad to know there is someone out there who has the same food intake as me =)

    we could trade packs food wise! I do like to throw in a bit of jerky and summer sausge and a bit of cheese...

    Does spray cheese work in below -0 weather? what about cookie dough?

  16. Now that is impressive. I must eat like a horse too. My physique is that of Ichabod Crane (sp?). I feel for you on this journey. I bonk really easily and have funky blood sugar. I know that certain flavor Clif Bars turn into bricks at cold temps. I had a couple while snowshoeing this past winter and I thought I was going to chip a tooth. Do you have to put them in your pants to thaw them first? ;-)

  17. Geoff: I remember a burger at Skwentna, a bowl of rice and chicken at Finger, a "Peter-sized" omelette at McGrath, a slushy Capri Sun in Ophir (!), leftover lunch from Lucy in Ruby, a grody slice of pizza in Unk, a coke and a burger in Koyuk, a cup of tea and a grilled cheese in Elim, and a small Sunny D in White Mtn. Then a fish-n-chips gorge-a-thon in Nome.

    Carl: You Brits can't taste anything anyway.

    DH: It is still a challenge, but my menu last year and this year (and next...) is vastly different. No sugar, and I'm leaving all the moisture at home--plenty of snow to melt out there to stick back into the food each day. Much, much lighter.

    B: Pre-fab.

    Padre: Homemade tortillas from a local lady.

    Scoty: Shut up.

    GT: Please tell me the dirt didn't dissuade you?!

    ScottM: See the list above to Geoff. One key to going fast on that route is to not get sucked into the cabins/villages along the way. I'd poke my head in and sign in where I had to, but I rarely stayed in a warm place, which means that I rarely got a meal other than the crap I carried. Look again at that list and realize that that is an AWFUL way to do that trail if you want to feel good and recover fast. Never having done a 1000-mile winter race before, I had no idea, I merely knew that I didn't want to carry a stove and waste time cooking/finding fuel, and I needed quick calories that could be kept at room temp in a PO for ~a month before I got there, then still be edible straight outta the bags at -40. A tall order. I was never hungry along the way, but I was never satiated either.

    Cocheese: I precut the Clif Bars and licorice into bite-sized pieces before leaving. So I could throw 3-4 hunks in my mouth at once, let 'em thaw, then chew 'em up as normal.

    Scoty: God you're high maintenance. Probably less than 100oz/day. Plus a few handfuls of snow when I'd run out of water. I didn't carry a stove that year, and I ran out of water four times between villages. On one of those occasions I found a bottle of water jettisoned out of a snowmachine trailer (it actually landed, literally, at my feet), on another I filled my bladder from overflow, and on the last I ate snow for ~30 hours until I came to a creek where I could kick/break through the fast ice to get at the flow beneath. That one gave me the gift that keeps on giving: giardia.

  18. Ah, PO boxes of course...duh.

    It never occured to me mail reaches that godforesaken winter madness.

  19. giardia?

    Symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, explosive diarrhea, loose or watery stool, stomach cramps, upset stomach, projectile vomiting (uncommon), bloating, and flatulence. Symptoms typically begin 1–2 weeks after infection and may wane and reappear cyclically. Symptoms are caused largely by the thick coating of Giardia organisms coating the inside of the small intestine and blocking nutrient absorption. Most people are asymptomatic; only about a third of infected people exhibit symptoms.

  20. Good info. I will be taking on the journey to Nome this year. Last year in the race to McGrath I learned that in sub-freezing temps your body burns tons more fuel then one can imagine which kept me off my game a bit.
    Taking that info to the GDR this past year I fully enjoyed my double bacon cheeseburger, ice cream, food indulging tour.
    I have been thinking of my menu to Nome since last year and it will be similiar to yours but with less sugars and more fats and proteins. I will also be sacrificing the wieght and challenges of a stove to make sure my energy level and hydration stay on top.
    Food is King!

  21. Giardia sucks. I had it when I was in 4th grade and almost had to repeat the year. The meds made me feel worse than the disease.

  22. I'm surprised you didn't opt for any MREs. It would seem to be the perfect thing to have at the end of the day.

    I think Discovery Channel has to hook you up with either Les Stroud or Bear Griddles for your next expedition. It would kinda be a "This old House" for extreme adventure athletes. It would make an excellent special.