Unusual Fuel at Aid Stations Around the World
Racing is hard, and even some of the best athletes need a little incentive every once in a while to sign up, put in the training hours for, and compete in a race. And while plenty of races boast some killer post-race parties, we can’t forget about what is offered to runners during the race. Our list of aid stations from around the world and the food that is served at them goes way beyond a couple of orange slices, half a banana, and a half cup of Gatorade (that usually ends up down the front of your shirt anyway). Take a peek at our list, and then go complete your race registration! You won’t want to miss out on some of these.
Anko Sandwiches, Onigiri, and Mochi Soup (Japan)
Our first stop takes us all the way around the world to Japan. As you know, the foods that families and individuals gather around the table to enjoy together in Japan and other Eastern Countries are very different from their Western counterparts. But the differences do not just stop at the table. Race foods in Japan probably seem a bit strange and peculiar to the American runner.
The first food that you probably have never heard of are anko sandwiches. Ultra runners in America have been known to pack peanut butter and jelly or nutella or marmalade sandwiches and anko sandwiches actually compare quite nicely. Anko is a sweet red bean paste, and the “bread” is actually more like the western pancake. Like a classic peanut butter and jelly, an anko sandwich is an excellent source of both simple and complex carbohydrates, that will give you a short burst of energy and then continued, sustained energy as the complex carbs break down. And while some runners experience stomach pain from the protein in peanut butter, you can pretty much avoid that with an anko sandwich.
Onigiri translates to “sticky rice balls” and are served at the Saroma Lake 100K Ultramarathon in Japan (as are the anko sandwiches). You are probably used to incorporating rice into your pre-race evening dinner, but do not be afraid to pop these little balls along the course. The white rice offers quick digesting simple carbs, and the perfect amount of calories to sustain you for a few miles.
And then, when you are starting to really feel the intense heights of the Saroma Lake Ultramarathon and hitting the wall of fatigue and hydration, Mochi Soup is to the rescue! This soup contains a seaweed broth, which is perfect for helping keep you hydrated. Americans stick to salt tablets for helping replace electrolytes, but this flavorful broth is much more appealing. It has the flavor of “umami,” what has been dubbed the “fifth taste” (after sour, salty, sweet, and bitter) and is delicious. The broth is also a good source of protein, so this mochi soup really is a nutritional powerhouse for runners. Drink up!
Aguapanela and Pollo Sudado (Colombia)
At the Chicamocha Run, an ultra trail run in Malaga, Santander, Colombia, racers will spend three days running around urban areas, up mountains, and through the jungle, and stopping to enjoy Aguapanela along the way.
Aguapanela is simply a sugary water without carbonation– much like American sports drinks. Columbia natives love this tasty beverage as a refreshing meal drink, but its simplicity makes it a great drink for distance runners too. It has fast digesting carbs (sugar) and will help keep you hydrated. Its simplicity also makes it easy to digest to avoid stomach pain.
Also during the Chicamocha Run, if you need something a little more hearty but still brothy, pollo sudado (translated, ‘chicken stew’) can be found along the route at aid stations. It is basically hot chicken soup with onions and potatoes. You’ve probably heard of runners sipping chicken broth along ultra marathon race courses, because it gives electrolytes and helps hydrate. Pollo Sudado is that, plus additional carbs and protein sources. Be warned though – if you aren’t used to digesting protein-rich meats during a run as some of these local Colombian runners, this might be best saved to try at another time.
The Chocolate Race in Port Dalhousie, Canada is a sweet toothed runners paradise. Race distances include a 5k, a 10k, or a 10 mile route – all of which serve chocolate treats. Runners can take their pick from several different chocolate themed race stations that include such delectable items as chocolate fondue and chocolate covered strawberries and marshmallows.
And don’t worry about your race time; the emphasis is on joining with friends and having a great time so runners often stop and eat leisurely at the race stations. But save room for (even more) dessert! At the finish line, runners are greeted with chocolate milk, chocolate truffles, chocolate croissants, chocolate fudge, chocolate dipped apples, and even chocolate martinis for those of age.
You’re probably thinking that drinking alcohol during a race probably doesn’t sound like a good idea. And you’re probably right. But one doesn’t enter the Medoc Marathon without fully knowing what they’re getting themselves into anyways, so it sounds great to us!
The Medoc Wine Region is found near Bordeaux, France, and at the Medoc Marathon, runners can stop along 23 wine tasting drink stations to sample some of the area’s most robust wines. But the fund doesn’t stop there, because who wants to do a wine tasting without the appropriate foods to pair along with it? And no, we are not talking about bananas and bagels. Runners can stop to sample delicious cheeses and even expensive delicacies like fois gras and oysters.
- The 10 Weirdest Things You Can Eat at an Aid Station, Feb 04, 2015 ,
- America's craziest food races, Fox News Article, Mar 30, 2012 ,