With our first stage race rapidly approaching, we’ve finally narrowed down and organized our dining menu that we’ll be bringing with us on our 7 day stage race through Madagascar. The only requirements that we had to work with from the race organizers were the following:
- Minimum 2000 calories per day
- Enough electrolyte powder mix or tabs to 30 hours of running
- Being able to carry a minimum of 2.5L of water at any given time
With that, and no previous stage running experience, we weren’t quite sure where to start. First thing is first we planned out our main meals. For this we received some awesome advise and support from two great Canadian companies.
Prairie Naturals make a wide range of all natural supplements, tons of which we will use before, during and after the race. From they wide range of organic vegan proteins to mix in with breakfast oatmeal, to their clean L-Glutamine to keep our muscles from breaking down too much, and of course their organic spirulina and chlorella supplements to help get us some greens while we’re out in the middle of nowhere.
Based out of Ontario, Harvest Foodworks offers a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan dehydrated food options. Yes the recommended way to prepare their meals requires some short cooking, however we experimented with many of their entrees and found quite a few that cook quite well by simply mixing in hot/boiling water and letting it soak it all up. They are jam packed full of protein, carbs and fats with some desirable ingredients such as curcumin, ginger or ghee to help keep fight off inflammation. And who could forget, like with almost all dehydrated foods, a high salt content is a huge perk for nutrition planning while running through the heat of Madagascar.
Next up, we needed to find some high calorie, stomach friendly energy bars! There are actually a whole bunch of vegan energy bars out there to choose from, the catch however is that most vegan eaters, ironically aren’t huge fans of super high calorie bars. After an extensive trial and error process during all types and lengths of workouts, we narrowed it down to two varieties that we will be packing with us:
These little guys are made from so few ingredients (some as little as 4!!), its comforting to know that we’re not eating a chemistry lab each time we chomp one down. With a primary ingredient of dates, these are high in natural sugars and offer some sweetness to the race menu. Each bar is small in size but brings with it just over 200 calories each.
These guys have been around for a long time, however we just discovered Halvah Bars recently. Again an all natural bar with simple ingredients, though these ones are mostly made up of sesame seeds. This gives them a super high fat content, however its a healthy fat that can be utilized by the body quite well for energy, and in fact will sustain you for longer than a sugar based bar. Topping the charts as the highest calorie bar we could find anywhere we looked, each one contains between 400-480 calories per bar. These also have a little bit more of a savory flavour for when we’ve had enough sweet for the day.
Next step was one we weren’t too familiar with, thats the drink mixes. We do our best to keep our diet as natural as possible so downing artificial supplements isn’t a daily things for us. We sought some tried and tested advise from our friend Ray Zahab (Co-star in the documentary Running the Sahara) who has competed in some of the most extreme stage races and running expeditions, so he’s figured it all out!!
We’ll be packing two kinds of drink powders with us, a carb loaded one called Vitargo, and a electrolyte rich on known as EFS. The Vitargo simply helps you pack down the easily digestable calories to keep you going, with less of a sugar spike/crash effect that sports drinks bring with them. EFS carries the claim to fame that it has the highest amount of electrolytes per volume, leaps and bounds higher than simple gatorade or powerade will provide. While yes these are both chemically made, the alternatives would leave us with simply WAY to much food packed in our tiny packs to carry.
Lasty, a couple of treats to look forward too and a couple emergency items for along the way, when the going gets tough. Ray told us that on the ladder stages of the race, you might fall a bit too far behind in calories, so pack a gel or two for a rescue shot of calories. Also bring one or two treats with you that you can crave and have after a tough stage, our plan for these is a couple Honey Stinger Waffles (our favs!) and a small pack of salted almonds!
All this tallied up rolls in right around 18,000 calories, well above the minimum 14,000 required. We feel confident in all of our food choices and have tested them our while running at different paces, in different temperatures and in different amounts. All fuel us well, digest well and will hopefully push up towards completing this race!
Follow along here or on our facebook page “Ultra Mel & Jon“, as we write quick updates after each stage of our race!
As always, live dirty, eat clean and run free! 🙂
Mel and Jon