6633 Arctic Ultra: planning my food and hydration

 

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Much like my comments in one of my previous blog posts, 6633 Arctic Ultra: researching the route, prior planning is vital for my Arctic adventure and food and hydration is no different. Having spoken to previous competitors and after having done a fair amount of number crunching, I've come to the conclusion that I'll burning between 8,000 and 10,000 calories a day, depending on the amount of time on feet (which could be up to 18 hours a day), the terrain, the weather and where I am in the race (I mean whether it's day 2 or day 9). Unfortunatly it's not logistally possible to haul around this amonut of food, so I'll be aiming to eat between 5,000 and 6,000 calories per day; so it's fair to say that everyday I'll be in a severe calorie deficit. Managing this will be key, as the more cold and tired you get, the less likely you'll be to want to eat, hence the beginning of a dangerous downward spiral. Many very talented athletes have DNF'd this race due to this downward spiral, so this will be a huge factor for me to consider throughout the whole of the race. 

For hydration, I'll be carrying with me two 2 litre Stanley flasks which will hold my hot water (mainly for food, but also for hot drinks), one 500ml flask (for coffee and hot chocolate), 2 litres of water (either in a Camelbak or two 1 litre Nalgene bottles) and on one or two of the bigger stages (where we'll have no access to check points for well over 24 hours) I'll also be carrying two 600ml soft flasks with water in. If I run out of water at any stage, then I'll be forced to boil snow with my JetBoil cooking system (pictured above & right); this will be far from ideal, but I have to be prepared for that scenario. 

My food prepartion is 99% done and the back bone of my food will be:

  • FirePot meals: I've been testing FirePot meals for many months now and these dehydrated meals (made in Dorset) are extremely tasty. If you've ever used freeze dried expedition meals (any brand), the FirePot meals are on another level. I'll be taking their vegan range with me as taking meat through Canadian customs can be an issue. I plan to use 3 meals every 24 hours (approx 2,210 calories). 
  • Primal Pantry bars: I'll be using the Primal bars and the Primal high-protein bars in the Arctic. As I'll be eating a fair amount of processed foods (sweets, cheese, salami, etc) I need a bar that's as natural as possible (these use only raw natural ingredients) and with a decent amount of calories (approx 200 calories per bar), so these bars are perfect. I plan to eat 2 bars every 24 hours (approx 400 calories).
  • Huel: I'll be using Huel almost as a meal replacement drink. Huel (mixed with water) will be perfect for an on-the-go drink and a good way to get in 400 calories quickly (one serving) and stay hydrated at the same time. I plan to use 3 servings every 24 hours (approx 1,200 calories). 
  • Nuts and chocolate: I'll be mixing mixed nuts with chocolate M&M's and placing them in a drinks bottle which will be in my bumbag (worn to the front, rather the rear), each bottle will hold approximately 900 calories and I plan on using 2 bottles every 24 hours (approx 1,800 calories).
  • Jelly sweets (Haribo, Jelly Babies, etc): I'll be using a selection of jelly sweets (what I can buy in Canada), these will be used throughout the day as snacks but I'll also have some in my drop bags as treats for when I arrive at certain check points (you get 2 drop bags during the whole race). 
  • Beef Jerky/Biltong/Salami: like the jelly sweets, I'll buy whatever I can in Canada, but I would like a selection of dry meats, to use as snacks during each day of the race (approx 300 calories per day). 
  • Pringles: Pringles will act as a treat and as an easy way to get in some calories, I plan to eat approx 60g of Pringles per day which equates to roughly 300 calories. 
  • Cheese: I will buy cheese in Canada, but I hope to get hold of Babybel as it's easy to work out calories for each portion eaten. If I budget for 2 Babybel's each day, that'll equate to approx 120 calories. 

 For my hydration I will be using:

  • Water (carrying hot & cold water)
  • Electrolyte tablets (SIS tablets and some Precision Hydration powder as required)
  • Energy powder (Tailwind as required)
  • Coffee (sachets)
  • Hot chocolate (sachets)

image2You can see from the information above, a lot of research has gone into choosing the right products for me. I need a lot of calorie dense foods and foods that not only I like and are tasty, but foods that will be easily absorbed by the body. Another consideration when choosing food is whether the food will freeze when stored in the pulk (sled), as most foods will invariably freeze solid. This will certainly happen with some of my choices, however the plan will be to pre-place some of the food next to the body to thaw it out before planning to eat it (otherwise I might loose some teeth!).   

The photo on the left shows what a full days amount of food will look like and it works out to be approximately 6,330 calories. I'm pretty sure I will miss some planned food stops and not quite hit the full 6,330 calories during each 24-hour period, but if I get anywhere near this amount I should be OK. As the race is 9 days long, I'll have 9 times the amount shown in the photo, but I can split that up into three 3-day supply bags and leave two of those three bags with the race support team (to drop of at two of the check points), so I only have to carry 3 days worth of rations at any one point (plus some extras for emergencies).

And that's about it for the food and hydration required for the race. The only other items I may consider adding is some shortbread (full of calories and doesn't freeze) and a few more treats for the drop bags, which of course will mean some full-fat Coke and more tubes of Pringles!!!  

If you missed the first few blog posts in this 6633 Arctic Ultra series, check out the blog post "6633 Arctic Ultra.....setting the scene" (you can check it out HERE) this post lets you know what I'm doing and why.

My next 6633 Arctic Ultra blog update will be my last training blog update (detailing the training done in February), then I might be able to squeeze in one more post before heading out to Canada on the 3rd March. In the meantime,  if you have any questions about the 6633 Arctic Ultra, the training required for such an epic event or the specialist equipment required, please send them over to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.