• Janie Crouch

Meals, Ready to...Eat?

One of the biggest challenges of the Fire & Ice Ultramarathon is calories and nutrition. I have to carry in my pack enough food for walking/running 25 miles/day for six days. All that will end up making up about 1/3 of my pack weight (around 8.5 lbs).

The Fire & Ice race coordinators provide us all our water (hot and cold) as well as the tents. Everything else gets carried in the packs. As you can imagine, carrying all your food for both 6 days of camping, plus running/walking a marathon every day, is pretty daunting.

I basically burn about 90 calories/mile, plus 1500 "regular" calories a day, just, you know... living.

So, I should be burning:

90 calories x 25 miles = 2250

+ 1500 "regular" daily calories

TOTAL = 3750 calories per day.

Just FYI...I'd need a wagon to haul that much, not a pack.

Packing calories for a marathon x 6

Race requires us to bring at least 2300 calories a day. Ahem. Seeing as I don't want to starve, I'm aiming for 2800 calories a day. Which may still leave me hungry.

My food will be made up of (estimated):


• 1 pack instant grits + Complan enriched soup mix + beef jerky + chia seeds = 325 calories

• Dirty chai tea (chai + shot coffee) = 100 calories

•Endurance fuel drink = 200 calories

TOTAL = 625 calories


• Liquid "Ultra Fuel" meal = 450 calories

• Pretzel pieces = 100 calories

• Slim Jims = 120 calories

• Payday bar = 150 calories

• Run gels/GUs = 200 calories

TOTAL = 1000 calories

Immediately after run

• Endurance fuel drink = 200 calories


• MRE = 800 calories

• Dirty chai tea (chai + shot coffee) = 100 calories

TOTAL = 1000 calories

GRAND TOTAL: 2825 calories Am I sure this is going to work and give me enough energy? Not at all. I'm not even sure it's going to fit.

Is any of it going to taste good? Probably not by day 3.

I'll let you know.

The good news is that I've been running long enough to know what sort of items work well and what doesn't. For example, I know I can't tolerate sweet stuff in the morning, so oatmeal (the most popular choice) is out. Grits was the best solution I could come up with.

Protein is always a concern. I'm getting mine in my jerky and MREs. The soup mix for my grits also contains protein.

Here's me taste-testing and choosing which actual MREs to go with: