Hold the butter

Date: Feb. 12
Mileage: 20.1
February mileage: 258.3
Temperature upon departure: 28

I set out today for one last ride on my fully loaded bike. For some reason, it was really tough. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve reduced my mileage, or because I haven’t reduced it enough, but I just couldn’t get warmed up. My legs were pumping lactic acid, and I could feel the metallic pangs of an old repetitive motion injury in my knees. Probably just a bad day. But I’ve decided to settle into some real rest. Tomorrow, I’m planning a short session at the gym, but I'll probably cut back on all other physical activity for the rest of the week.

I have just about all of my gear gathered for the race, with the exception of one thing - food. Since I’m one of those people that hates eating on the trail (I consider it a necessary chore akin to changing a flat tire), I’ve predictably put off deciding what I’m going to bring. The race rules require carrying 3,000 calories for the duration of the race. Lots of people just carry a pound of butter because it’s one of the lightest ways to pack 3,000 calories, but I think that’s a bad idea. I’ve tried to envision possible scenarios on the dark wilderness trail, and I can’t, for the life of me, come up with any situation that would compel me to bite into a frozen stick of butter. If I need food to save my life, it should probably be something I can actually eat. So I’m going to carry 20 ounces of chocolate, knowing those four extra ounces could make all the difference. And they're pretty negligible in the grand (60-pound) scheme of things.

As for food I actually plan to eat, I’m probably going to pack between 3,500 and 4,500 calories, knowing that this race could take me 16 hours to finish, or it could take me 40. There is food at three of the checkpoints along the way, but I’m not planning to rely on it. Most likely, I’ll bring: peanut butter and jam sandwiches; a homemade trail mix with raw walnuts, Craisens and dried cherries; turkey jerky; fruit leathers; fruit snacks (Shrek brand, my favorite); fig bars and Power Bars (I realize Power Bars freeze. But since they’re one of my best sources of complex carbohydrates, I’ll probably just carry them next to my torso to keep them warm.) The reason for all of this random, sugar-laden stuff is that it’s all been trail tested and approved for stomachache-free consumption.

I also will probably carry some Cytomax powder and maybe a few Clif Shot Bloks for good measure. Geoff is trying to convince me to take a bottle of Hammer Perpetuem. But the last time I tried to take a swig of that stuff, I was stopped cold by the smell of what is, to me, the most disgusting food ever to be manufactured and sold in a standard grocery store: Vanilla Soy Milk. Honestly, I think I’d have more luck getting the butter down.

If anyone has any last-minute suggestions, I’ll hear them out. I just discovered that also entered in the Susitna 100 this year is John “The Guy Who Drinks Vegetable Oil” Stamstad. So I guess there’s no end to the possibilities.


  1. I'm with you on the Vanilla Soy milk. That stuff destroys my stomach. Good luck. I have my 1st race of the year this weekend also. Though it's nothing compared to what your doing.

  2. A nice single malt warms me right up in the woods.

  3. Good luck at the race! You sound pretty prepared, so you should do fine. And the chocolate is a much better idea than the butter, I must say.

  4. JoeDell7:17 AM

    what are you planning on doing with the stove? Cooking anything? or just used as emergency heat or for melting snow?

  5. What people carry for food is a very personal choice. Yours looks good. A nice mix of carbs (complex and simple sugars), protein and fat. I think you're as prepared as possible. You are going to do great! So how is Geoff's foot?

  6. Good luck! Did I mention, good luck! Hope you get a PBR. Personal best record? Hellz naw, an ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon at the finish line! Okay, that was dumb. ...would you expect anything less?

  7. Good luck, Jill. I have to side with Geoff on the HammerGel in the little plastic bottles. I don't know if it will eventually freeze at temps down around zero F, but it's kept me going many times. I often bring PowerBars more as insurance when it's cold because they really are hard to eat once they get below 35F or so.

  8. One of the guys I rode with this year at the Arrowhead carried a small thermos full of coffee. That was the best. I'm definitely considering making that a part of my mandatory gear next year. If you don't like coffee, you could also fill it with your choice of hot soup. Good luck!

  9. I really like hot tea with lots of honey did that last night.... Go for a box of little debbie's there 12 of them in a box, lots of flavors, fairly light, cheap and should net you anywhere from 2000-2600 cals of simple sugar dependent on witch snack you choose =)

  10. From winter mountaineering experience, hot flask is good, fresh brew is better if you're carrying a stove anyway. And banoffee fudge.

  11. Jenny, Just found your blog. Good luck on the Susitana! Tabbed you on my blog. I enjoy your lovely photography, and writing style too!

    Just a note from a Utah Rookie endurance cyclist.


  12. Anonymous8:42 PM

    Long time lurker, filled with awe at your determination and spirit. Good luck, on long cold trips I like cheese and plain rolls neither gives my sensitive stomache any pain. It always helps to carry some Tums, no real caloric value but definitely a worthy aid when the snack fights back. Good luck and go go go! Gerard

  13. Anonymous10:03 PM

    Food looks good. You need some salt. I love salt and vinegar potato chips! Go get 'em girl!
    St. Louis MO

  14. I like butter, but I'm weird. Be safe out there, Jill.


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