The Artisan Travel Blog

Dog Mushing - Could this be the latest weight loss craze?

We've got a few cycling fans here in the Artisan Travel offices and we're regularly looking at ways of keeping the weight off to heighten our performances on our bikes.

We'll never get anywhere near the professionals however who, despite being skinny as the thinnest rake you ever did see, consume a massive 6000 to 7000 calories per day (roughly 15 Big Macs with medium fries) during stage races: that's three times the daily intake of an average male!

There's little wonder therefore that cyclists tend to be pretty lean but their daily food consumption is peanuts compared to that of a racing sled dog. These incredible animals are about one third the weight of an average human being and yet, during epic races like The Yukon Quest Trail or The Iditarod, they will consume up to 12,000 calories in a day. 12,000 calories!!! That's something in the region of 26 Big Macs with medium fries and makes the cyclists look like mere amateurs in the calorie burning stakes.

Admittedly, there is something hideously complicated and scientific about the dogs' metabolism which leads to them burning so much energy but you have to witness the competitive canines in action before you can fully appreciate their astonishing consumption. Racing sled dogs can run for upwards of 100 miles per day often in temperatures dropping well below -25°C. Consider that the 2014 Iditarod (a 1000 mile race across the wildest, most rugged and toughest terrain Alaska can throw at you) was won (in highly dramatic fashion) by Dallas Seavey in a record time of 8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes and 19 seconds and you begin to understand why these dogs have to eat so much.

It did occur to us briefly that we might design some kind of Arctic Boot Camp for anybody desperate to lose a bit of weight. We imagined our suppliers getting hold of some human rather than dog harnesses which we could hook up to a fully loaded sled and then with a yell of whatever is the Homo Sapien equivalent of "mush!" off they would go into the snowy, arctic wilderness. We could pretty much guarantee a pretty considerable weight loss during a five day wilderness safari but in the end we realised that we would be denying the dogs the thing they love most.....running.

Instead, we've hooked up with some great mushers and allowed the dogs to take the strain while you drive the team and sled. Don't be fooled into thinking it will be an easy ride however. Long-distance dog mushers have to be reasonably fit, they have to be strong enough to control those powerful canines and they have to concentrate for hour after hour. A multi-day adventure is no walk in the park and as one client remarked after returning from one of our wilderness dog sled safaris:

"It was a bit more Ray Mears than I imagined".

That's long distance dog sledding for you. It can be basic, it can be tough, it can be tiring but that is life on the trail, an adventure, a real adventure where you might just lose some weight too.

Read 3610 times Last modified on Tuesday, 20 February 2018

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