Calorie Counter

As you recently heard Dr. Mike Davis say, there's been a lot of scientific research on how much energy sled dogs burn during the Iditarod, and the numbers are consistently in the 10,000-12,000 calories per day range. That is a huge number of calories, and it helps explain the massive piles of dog food you've seen us packing into checkpoint drop bags over the past couple of days. The dogs will consume over a ton of food during the race and convert it to energy to be burned. When you think about it, it's really pretty amazing.

Something else that's amazing is how much food the mushers will eat. Although there isn't any research that I know of which calculates their caloric intake and conversion, it's a good bet that between being out in the cold for 10 days straight, working constantly, plus all the poling, kicking and running they do to help the teams, they burn a huge amount of energy as well. Although Aliy and Allen pack freeze-dried meals into the drop bags for themselves -- and at some checkpoints they can sometimes get hot meals -- these require time that they often do not have available. Besides, at their levels of exertion it is impossible to keep up on calories without snacking heavily in between.

For this reason, Aliy and Allen also pack a supply of snacks to eat along the trail. Accordingly, the workshop at the kennel currently looks remarkably like the check-out at a convenience store... and give a whole new meaning to the term "calorie counter"!

Right after I shot the photo above, Aliy chided me, "Don't go telling people that's all my stuff! That's all Allen's stuff. I've got good stuff over here in my little corner. See! Look at this bag of healthy nuts!" Well, I've been around the Kennel long enough to know when the good-natured bantering is starting, so I decided to play along.

Sure enough, on Aliy's "little corner" of the calorie counter there were a number of healthy snacks -- smoked salmon, dried fruit, nuts, green algae bars and vitamin drink -- to go with a reasonable assortment of Pringles, Peanut M&M's and Combos. All in all, I guess you'd have to give her a pretty good score for balancing the snack equation, but she was feeling so proud of herself that all I gave her was a "Not too bad" review.

By comparison, Allen's rather larger portion of the calorie counter was indeed pretty well chockablock with candy and chips, garnished ever so sparingly with a few small bags of nuts. I glanced over at Allen with an inquisitive look and he said, in a way that only Allen could say it, "What? I have to eat all the time out there! I'll eat all that and I'll still be hungry. But... I spent all the allowance she gave me, and that's all I could get!"

At which point, of course, Aliy gave him "the look." Such is how it goes around here, that even in the middle of all there is to do, running dogs, packing gear, filling out forms, tuning up sleds, etc., etc., there's still plenty of good humor and fun to go around.

So, it occurred to me that maybe you'd like to join in the fun, too, and help "Fill Allen's Snack Sack!" Clicking the button below will take you to a page where you can enter any amount you would like to contribute and pay online. You can even write a message with special instructions on what healthy -- yeah, right! -- snacks you want him to get. I will run a separate tab for him and make sure he gets the additional "allowance" directly!

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