Gel, gummy, granola bar, gel, gummy, granola, bar…. Repeat. M&M’s, licorice, corn nuts, jerky, sour patch kid, swig-o-water…. Repeat. The fueling cycle for ultra endurance pursuits is a necessary part of maintaining forward progress, but it can get pretty damn disgusting after awhile. Garbage gut, sugar belly, and scanty poos that resemble wee tar balls are the unfortunate side effects of even a single day’s worth of calories in the form of typical performance foods. Last summer during the Adventure Racing World Championships, a 500 mile human powered effort spanning nearly 6 days of continuous racing, Team Quest developed a solid case of the performance-food blues. Our tongues were raw from the steady intake of sugary foods, and we had not anticipated how quickly flavor-fatigue would set in, making it near impossible to keep forcing ourselves to eat the food we needed to fuel us forward.
Enter: Heather’s Choice!
HOORAY!! We had saved our precious Heather’s Choice meals for later in the race, to supplement our many many calories worth of easily digested and sugar-rich snacks. Therefore, we didn’t get to taste the savory manna of Smoked Salmon Chowder or the lightly spiced and nourishing Banana Nutmeg Buckwheat Breakfast until we had 48 hours of racing (with no sleep) already under our belts. Picture this: After trekking by foot through the alpine for 40 miles at 9000+ feet, then covering a cool 86 miles of trail by mountainbike, you descend to a transition area in the chilly low point of a foggy valley at 5 am. What better reward to warm you from the core than a well earned breakfast (can you really call it breakfast when you haven’t slept for two nights? Let’s just say “dawn meal”) of smoked salmon chowder, shared between teammates. Knowing that we had at least another 50 miles of trekking, 200 miles of mountainbiking, class III whitewater by packraft, and a lengthy river paddle ahead of us, we felt energized and emboldened with hot food in our bellies. We also knew that we had 8 more Heather’s Choice meals between the 4 of us, and those served as our ports in the storm of cloyingly sweet and gut busting energy food we carried with us for the race.
Nothing more grounding than a real meal, my parents used to say. And it’s true. Whether you plan to cover 5 miles or 500, if your adventure takes you far afield, a Heather’s Choice Meal can deliver taste and nourishment that simply crushes any other food you might care to throw in your pack. Not to mention, if wee tar balls are not your idea of a respectable morning constitution, look no further.
Out of the 60 teams from around the world that lined up to race at Adventure Racing Worlds, Team Quest finished 24th after five and a half days of continuous racing. The post-race numbers were pretty sobering:
Total Distance: 500 miles
Hours Racing: 128
Hours Slept: 7.5
Pounds Lost: 27.2!!!
In adventure racing, each team races together for the entire race, unlike a relay event. Our 4 person team lost a combined total of nearly 30 pounds during the race, despite a constant intake of 200-300 calories per hour by each person. That’s some serious damage, but I can only imagine that it would have been worse without our Heather’s Choice food. We dedicate our continued existence to the calories, protein, and nutrients we got in each meal and packaroon. We are so thankful that we didn’t wither away to nothing on the race course!