So what do you take to snack on when setting off for an extreme sport weekend or outing?
Extreme sportsmen need three things:
- good training
- sturdy equipment
- and food that is nutricious, lightweight and provides plenty of energy
But how’s about this for a refreshingly down-to-earth approach to the nutrition required for an extraodinary tale of sporting endurance…
Angela Mudge, an unknown Scottish athlete, broke the women’s record for the fastest time in the toughest running race in the world – the Everest Marathon in December. She takes an eccentric approach to her diet. Instead of consuming expensive sports supplements, health drinks, energy bars and caffeine gels which she regards as a waste of money, she swears by jelly babies, Bounty bars, water and diluted orange juice!
Angela was born with her feet pointing backwards and had to wear casts in the early years of her childhood. Despite this, and despite the tragedy of her twin sister dying in 2006, she has gone on to beat the long-standing record for the Everest Marathon by 13 minutes.
The annual event, which takes place in the shadow of the highest mountain in the world, is so demanding that competitors are required to acclimatize in Nepal for 26 days prior to taking part. “The big challenge wasn’t the race,” says Angela, 37, “it was getting to the starting line fit.” About 80% of this year’s Everest Marathon athletes suffered diarrhoea, altitude sickness, deep-vein thrombosis, reduced lung capacity or chest infections en route to the starting line which is located near Everest’s base camp – 5,200m above sea level.
The race includes 2,000m of descents and ascents, with temperatures shifting between -20C (-4F) and 20C (68F). “Many runners competed wearing down-filled jackets.”
Between Ronald Reagan and Angela Mudge, the history of jelly beans is being re-defined!
This video is from the 2005 marathon and rather long but gives a very good idea as to how extreme the race is.
There are a vast quantity of sports foods on the market pandering to all types of tastes and time scales from energy bars to lightweight, hi-tech food.
People who engage in extreme sports mostly rely on freeze-dried food that comes in foil pouches, simply adding water to make a complete meal-in-a-bag. Although it might sound unpalatable to many, the ingredients are actually dry-frozen directly after harvest so they retain their cell structure and is both light in weight and tasty.
Mountaineer, Alexander Huber, has definite criteria for the food he takes with him: “Well, basically, good nutrition is important because it gives you strength, especially for these activities, so it’s important for the food to be good. Of course it should taste good as well …You lose your appetite at great heights, so if the food isn’t tasty, you’re unable to do anything. So it’s important for the food to taste good.”
However,freeze-drying is expensive, complicated and uses enormous quantities of electricity for shock freezing and vacuum drying. A mountaineer’s meal in a bag costs almost as much as a meal in a restaurant. So this high tech meal is really only for extreme conditions.