This article by Lex Treinen was originally published by Alaska Public Media. It was republished with permission through a partnership with KNOM.
While it might not be as important as keeping their canine athletes fed, staying up on calories is also key for Iditarod mushers who face long days behind the sled and cold temperatures.
We asked five mushers what’s fueling them out on the trail this year. Here’s what they said:
Bridgett Watkins, oatmeal bars
“We make these little oatmeal bars, they’ve got oats, bananas, white chocolate chips, peanut butter and agave and so they don’t freeze. It’s like a no-bake. I like those all times of day and I don’t throw one of those away. They get eaten. My friend Val made them for me. I love them. That’s my personal favorite snack.”
Matt Failor, chicken pot pie and fruit snacks
My wife made chicken pot pie — that’s one of my favorites, but I guess that’s not a snack, that’s a meal. For snacks, the fruit snacks from 3 Bears grocery store are pretty darn good and then the honey sticks you can just bite off the plastic tip and suck on some honey. And then some kid gave me a Twix bar at the start, and I was super thrilled because that’s one of my favorite snacks. I just send a variety to every checkpoint. What’s really funny is I usually end up seeing my friends out there and then I end up wanting their food more than mine.”
Dan Kaduce, dried mangoes
My go-to is dried mangoes. I always eat all of them out of my sled first. Just the Costco pack.
Ryan Redington, Carrs’ sweet and sour chicken
“I got Carrs’ fried rice and sweet and sour chicken. I vacuum seal it. A school in Baltimore sent me a bunch of snacks out on the trail. I got cookies, Reese’s is my favorite. I got some cake in a vacuum-sealed bag. Someone special made that for me. I have a bunch of candy, I’m not too picky.”
Jessie Royer, mom’s chocolate chip cookies
“I would never get to Nome without my mom’s chocolate chip cookies. They’re some of the best ones ever. Of course, your mom’s cookies are always the best, but I’ve been eating them since I was a kid. I love them. My mom actually does all my meals. She does my lasagna and stew and pizza and mac and cheese. She precooks them and vacuum seals them. She only lives about four hours away so I just pick ‘em up at some point and I use them for my food drop.”
Christian Turner, beef jerky
“I brought some beef jerky from home in Australia. I flew it all the way over for this. My father-in-law made it and it’s been a life saver. It’s really soft and really good, so hopefully he reads this. He dries out strips of rump steak with chili and teriyaki sauce. I haven’t been eating very many sweets, just trying to eat the meat and dried fruit like mangoes and apricots.”
Image at top: Richie Diehl’s trail snacks in Nikolai. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)