I've just found a really interesting blog out there in the running blogoshere - Rich Merry's account of the Marathon des Sables and the training involved - take a look at his blog.
Click here for an inspirational video on the Marathon des Sables
So what does the average person take for a six day, 151 mile endurance race in the desert when he has to carry all his own stuff and needs at least 200 calories a day? The last person I spoke to was an Italian guy, Alberto, from Victoria Park Harriers, who was planning on taking a parma ham and lump of parmesan cheese in his backpack, plus some dried pasta and rice - good for protein, salt and carbs, but not sure about carrying all that weight...
Rich doesn't talk too much about nutrition in his blog, so I asked him to give me an account of what he took with him. It sounds like he got it pretty well organised, especially as it was his first time. This is what he said:
"Food-wise on the Mds was a mixed bag (not literally). My menu was divided up into days depending on the expected calorie expenditure and that we needed to have at least 2000kcal everyday. The weight was also an issue and my total food for the trip weighed in at 5kg.
I took mainly boil in bag meals (expedition foods), which covered breakfast (800kcal), food for when I stopped (about same - Spag Bol, Tikka, chilli etc) and then a dessert in the evening before sleep. Having said that by the end of the week we were swapping meals as we got a bit fed up with them and most started to taste the same.
Snack-wise I took honey roasted cashew nuts, beef jerky, skittles and these again were shared out as the week progressed. I also took pouches of coffee and hot chocolate, which made a big difference and lifted the day when it got tough.
Dehydration wasn’t a problem for me, however I started to struggle drinking water and nuun drinks halfway through the long stage (91km non stop), as I found I couldn’t keep it down. This wasn’t an initial problem as it was 11pm when I started but, by the end of the stage I was really dry and ended up having an expedition foods muesli with extra water added to the milk powder just to get fluids in, and had to use this method as well as try to sip what I could. I never expected to be sick (literally) of water, after all the training I had done.
The only thing I would change about my time out there would be to have changed my variety of snacks and food. What seemed a nice snack back home soon became boring and not enjoyable eating day-in day-out. Also a small bottle cordial would have been nice, just to add flavour to water, but it is all a matter of weight that stopped me initially."