Hunter, Nordic Skier, and Mount Marathon Record Holder.
Photo Credit: Seward City News
With a population of just over 2,700 people, the town of Seward, Alaska is hardly bursting at the seams. The one exception to that rule is the week of July 4th when the great Mount Marathon race takes place.
Dubbed "the toughest 5K on the planet" by Outside magazine, the Mount Marathon pushes participants through a grueling route encased in everything from shaley rock to snow fields. It's roughly 3,000 feet of elevation in just over 3 miles from start to finish with an average slope steepness of 34 degrees. It seems any description outside of the one quoted by Outside Magazine would be a disservice to the race and participants alike.
Valley-to-Peak was fortunate to sit down with one of those participants, David Norris. Norris, by trade is an athlete. He's pursued a career as a Nordic skier in Alaska where he makes his home. He does; however, find time each summer to participate in the MMR. He's done more than just participate in the event, he's won it twice over while setting the current record.
Curious about his approach to nutrition, we sit down with David and talk everything from training and nutrition to hunting, fishing, and why he aims to fill his freezer year-after-year with only meat he's caught or taken himself.
▪️What are some of your beliefs and guidelines with nutrition and performance? Nutrition plays a huge role in how well I can perform during races and training. I try to keep my nutrition consistent leading into events so that I don't surprise my gut with something new. Some ideas in my nutrition plan that I focus on is purchasing full fat foods, low sugar, low GI, tons of vegetables, and lots of diversity. I used to plan my meals around a meat source, but now I think of my meals like a vegetarian who has a serving of meat on the side several days a week. I am extremely lucky that I don't buy any meat and consume salmon, moose, caribou, and birds I've got myself or given to me.
▪️Do you notice a correlation of training and nutrition, either good or bad? How? I can often feel if I have under ate for a few days when I lack the high end ability to dig deep in training and racing. It is a hard feeling to diagnose because it feels much like normal fatigue to me. If I bump up my fueling for a day or two and don't feel better than I know it is general fatigue.
▪️If we were to do a pack dump of your backcountry ski pack; what are some “absolutes” we’d find in regard to food and nutrition? This is kind of a funny one cause I am happy eating a big breakfast and nothing until 10pm when I am having fun in the backcountry. If I am backing for enjoyment I always try to have a PB&J on me. I try to avoid packaged foods, but I am in a rush running out the door I grab a Create 38 bar.
▪️What initially drew you to hunting and fishing as a means to get your food? I have always enjoyed camping and being outside so hunting with a goal to fill the freezer gives me an excuse to get out and pursue a goal. I have the goal each year to eat only the meat I or my friends have caught or taken ourselves. I know its healthier than meat from the store and I love cooking something that I am proud of.
▪Any other tips (training, nutrition, or otherwise) you’d pass along? I personally don't follow a strict diet and I encourage friends not to get too excited about the new 'greatest and latest' diet trend. It seems to me that if we avoid packaged and highly refined foods we will be pretty well off. I read something that suggested we just try to imagine what our great grandmother made for dinner each week and try to follow suit cause because it was probably all from scratch.
You can find David on Instagram @grandmasternorris