Not many brands, let alone a biltong and jerky brand, can say they have been rowed 3000 miles across the Atlantic and played a small part in the setting of a world record!
In 2021 Raging Bull Snacks was contacted by Scott Pollock, a Captain in The Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC) and team leader for Army Force Atlantic 21, the official British Army Mixed team entry into the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Scott wanted to know if Raging Bull Snacks would be able to supply Raging Bull biltong and Raging Bull jerky to help fuel his crew as they attempted what is acknowledged, for very good reasons, as the world’s toughest row.
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge starts in La Gomera in the Canary Islands and the crews have to row unsupported 3000 miles to Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua & Barbuda. Teams race not only against each other, but against the deterioration of their bodies and minds. Each crew member has to row for 2 hours and then rest for 2 hours constantly for between forty and fifty days! They will notch up in excess of one and a half million oar strokes hauling an 8.5m boat through waves up to 20 feet high. Along the way they have to deal with extreme fatigue (no surprise there!), salt sores, muscle wastage, sea sickness, blisters and many other medical issues caused by extreme ocean rowing. When you put all that together it comes as little surprise that more people have climbed Everest than have rowed the Atlantic Ocean.
What was unique about Army Force Atlantic was that it was the first mixed boat to be entered into the race by the army. Captain Scott’s fellow rowers included Warrant Officer Class 1 Victoria Blackburn, Staff Sergeant Phillip Welch and Sergeant Laura Barrigan. Like Scott all were from the Royal Army Physical Training Corp and were Army Physical Performance Specialists. Which basically means they are responsible for developing and maintaining physical fitness across the army. You can learn more about RAPTC at the end of this blog and why these four individuals were so well prepared for taking on this gruelling challenge.
There were two primary aims.
Firstly, they wanted to highlight the opportunities that exist to everyone in the Army regardless of their gender, social class or their level of sporting ability.
Secondly, they wanted to raise as much money as they could for The Royal British Legion who have helped members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, veterans and their families. We all know this incredible charity through their annual poppy appeal.
There was also one more goal the team had their eyes on – beating the world record for the fastest mixed crew to row the Atlantic.
It will come as no surprise that extreme levels of preparation go into attempting a challenge of this nature. The team spent hours and hours deliberating as to what could go wrong and formulating action plans and then action plans on action plans (in case the first fails). If anything goes wrong mid-Atlantic, you could be days from rescue. Previous teams that have attempted the crossing have spoken of encounters with whales, being tossed about in gale force winds, individuals experiencing hallucinations and in one case a team arriving at the finish line with a marlin’s beak pierced through the hull of the boat!
All boats in the challenge are required to carry 220 days of food (remember they are unsupported) and each rower is likely to burn over 5000 calories per day. When your boat is only 8.5m long and there are four of you on it, every item on the boat has to add maximum benefit. Nutritional planning is therefore a critical part of the whole challenge and getting enough protein into the team was a major consideration. This is one of the reasons why Captain Scott contacted the team at Raging Bull Snacks because our biltong and jerky is very high in protein. The other consideration for the team was taste and enjoyment. He wanted a delicious snack the team could look forward to that wasn’t going to be repetitive. That’s why they wanted to take three different biltong flavours – Raging Bull Original Beef Biltong, Raging Bull Chilli Beef Biltong and Raging Bull Teriyaki Beef Biltong.
Biltong is typically made from meat of a high quality. For instance, at Raging Bull Snacks, we use prime cuts of grass-fed silverside beef. The meat is cut into strips and marinated in vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices. Recipes and combinations can vary greatly and it’s not unusual in South Africa for family recipes to be passed down through the generations. Once marinated the meat is hung to dry for several days, preferably in a dry humid environment. This will be naturally achieved in some countries (think Southern Africa for example) otherwise fans and heating can replicate the drying process. It is a versatile snack that allows for many different flavours depending on taste. At Raging Bull Snacks for example, along with our more traditional tasting Original Biltong we also make Chilli Biltong and Teriyaki Biltong. Learn more by visiting “What Is Biltong? 10 Facts About Biltong”
Raging Bull snacks are packed full of natural protein. Crafted in the UK from ethically sourced silverside beef 100g of Raging Bull Biltong contains nearly 60g of protein. That is because 100g of biltong starts off as 200g of beef before it is cured and dried using our traditional family techniques. You are in effect getting twice as much protein in half the serving.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which act like building blocks for the body. When you eat protein after exercise, it gives your muscles the amino acids necessary to repair and rebuild. Repetitive muscle contractions from physical exercise whether it be rowing, jumping, running, body building, gym workouts etc can break down muscle cells and cause damage. As the body does not store protein, consuming high quality protein around exercise is central to providing the muscle with the key elements it needs to optimise recovery. And that recovery becomes pretty important when you are rowing over a million strokes two hours on and two hours off for over 40 days. You of course don’t have to be a high calibre athlete to benefit from the benefits of protein and a number of diets, Keto for example, will involve of a high protein intake. You can read more about high protein diets further down this blog.
At Raging Bull Snacks we only use premium cuts of responsibly sourced grass-fed beef. Beef is a natural source of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B12, Iron and Zinc.
Also known as cobalamin, is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in many aspects of health, including red blood cell production, energy levels, nervous system function, brain function, bone health, heart health, and mood regulation. It is important to consume adequate amounts of vitamin B12 through a balanced diet or supplements to ensure optimal health and wellbeing.
Is a mineral that is essential for many vital functions in the body. It is a trace mineral, meaning that the body requires it in small amounts, but it is still crucial for maintaining good health. Iron is found naturally in many foods, including meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, tofu, spinach, and fortified breakfast cereals. Iron plays a key role in the production of hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. Iron is also important for the proper functioning of enzymes that are involved in various metabolic processes, including energy production, DNA synthesis, and immune system function.
Is a mineral that is essential for many important functions in the body. It too is a trace mineral. Zinc is found naturally in many foods, including meat, seafood, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Zinc plays a role in various physiological processes in the body, including immune system function, protein synthesis, wound healing, growth and development, reproductive health, skin health, hormone regulation, and antioxidant defence. It is required for the synthesis of enzymes, hormones, and other proteins, and is involved in the regulation of cell growth and division.
So after months of meticulous preparation and a years’ worth of training how did the “Oarsome Foursome” do? Well, they crossed the finishing line in an official time of 40 days 23 hours and 57 minutes beating the world record that had stood at 42 days and 10 hours! Even more remarkable they weren’t helped by the weather. If the conditions are right, then wind and currents can help the boats along. As Captain Scott explained;
“We had to row the whole way – no surfing off the waves, no ‘free’ mileage.”
Summing up the whole experience Scott speaks of his abiding memory of taking on the Atlantic Ocean;
“It’s always going to be the team; the unity and the way we have engaged with each other has been second to none. For the last two years we’ve done lots of research. We’ve looked at how to tackle it and when we’ve come to do it, we’ve done exactly what we said we were going to do. We have done it in the manner which we said we wanted to do it in.”
And the greatest challenge they faced? Not surprisingly, the lack of sleep with the 2 hour on 2 hour off rotation.
“The sleep deprivation is probably the biggest challenge. We got about three hours sleep every night for the last 40 nights and that is hard to get over. You go through all sorts of mood issues, hydration issues, feeding issues because you’re so tired”.
A truly remarkable challenge and one Raging Bull Snacks was very proud to support. It is of course a great endorsement for the nutritional value of our biltong and is why so many of our customers already eat Raging Bull Biltong before and after their workouts.
Some people consume biltong as part of a high protein diet. We would would always advise our customers to seek professional nutritional advice before eating biltong as part of a high protein diet. Some popular examples of high-protein diets include the Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, and the South Beach diet.
High protein diets work by increasing the intake of protein while reducing the intake of carbohydrates and/or fats. When the body consumes more protein than it needs, the excess protein is broken down into amino acids, which can then be used for a variety of functions, including building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and supporting immune function.
One of the main ways that high protein diets are thought to promote weight loss is by increasing feelings of fullness and satiety. Protein is more filling than carbohydrates or fats, and it takes longer for the body to digest and absorb protein, which can help to reduce appetite and prevent overeating.
High protein diets may also help to boost metabolism and increase fat burning. The body requires more energy to digest and metabolise protein than it does for carbohydrates or fats, a process known as the thermic effect of food. This increased energy expenditure may help to promote weight loss and fat burning.
Additionally, high protein diets may help to preserve lean muscle mass while promoting fat loss. When the body is in a calorie deficit, which is necessary for weight loss, it may also break down muscle tissue for energy. However, consuming a high protein diet can help to prevent muscle loss while promoting fat loss.
It is important to note that high protein diets may not be appropriate for everyone, particularly those with certain medical conditions such as kidney disease. Additionally, it is important to choose healthy sources of protein and to maintain a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all food groups. When it comes to matters of your health and diet you should always consult with a medical professional.
The Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC) is a specialised corps within the British Army that is responsible for maintaining the physical and mental fitness of soldiers. The RAPTC plays a crucial role in ensuring that soldiers are ready to meet the challenges of modern warfare.
The RAPTC was established in 1860 and has a long and proud history of providing elite fitness training to soldiers. The corps is staffed by highly trained and experienced instructors who are experts in their field. They use a range of techniques to develop soldiers’ physical fitness, including weightlifting, running, swimming, and martial arts.
The RAPTC’s training programs are designed to challenge soldiers both physically and mentally, preparing them for the rigours of military life. The corps places a strong emphasis on teamwork and leadership, helping soldiers to work together and develop the skills needed to lead and inspire others.
The RAPTC’s training is not just about physical fitness; it is also about mental toughness. The corps recognizes that soldiers need to be mentally resilient to cope with the stresses and pressures of military life. The RAPTC provides training in areas such as stress management, mental preparation, and goal setting, helping soldiers to develop the mental toughness needed to succeed in the military.
In addition to its training programs, the RAPTC also provides specialist advice and support to commanders and other military units. The corps works closely with other military units, such as the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Royal Army Physical Training Corps Association, to provide a comprehensive and integrated approach to military fitness training.
The RAPTC is one of the most respected and admired organisations in the British Army, and its contributions to military fitness training are essential. The corps’s commitment to keeping soldiers physically and mentally fit has made it an integral part of the British Army, and its work will continue to be essential in the years to come.
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