Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail with Honey Stinger Ambassador Jeff a.k.a. “Toes”

Every year, thousands of hikers attempt to thru-hike the 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.); yet only one in four makes it the entire way. We had the pleasure of conducting a Q&A with Jeff, a.k.a. Toes, who recently completed this adventure. He shares with us his experience and the role that Honey Stinger played along the way.

What prompted you to hike the AT?

  • I was about 12 years old when I saw a sign along the road for the Appalachian Trail. Someone explained to me that there was a hiking trail that went from Georgia to Maine, and I was hooked. I knew someday I would make that journey. 25 years later, I was spending some time traveling in Brazil. After a pleasant day of hiking, I was watching the sun set over the hills and I thought to myself, “I need more of this in my life.” The next year I was on the trail.

What were some key moments?

  • Leaving the Smokies, coming out onto the first bald (Snowbird) on a beautiful day, and just sitting in the grass enjoying life. That was about 3 weeks on the trail for me. It was the first time that I stopped, just to enjoy where I was. Until I got to Maine, that moment on Snowbird was the best part of my hike.
    Jeff Toes - the bald

    Toes as he approaches the first bald, Snowbird Mountain

    But the beauty and peacefulness of Maine can hardly be described in words. In Maine I would hike for hours and not hear the faintest sound of human civilization. I found that often the birds were respectful in keeping silent as well.

How did you come to find out about Honey Stinger?

  • While at Trail Days in Damascus I met a rep from Big Agnes [Honey Stinger’s sister company] who had some extra Honey Stinger waffles at the end of the day. Up to that point I had been hesitant to buy many energy snacks that I never tried before due to the cost/risk of not liking them. But the moment I tried the Honey Waffle from Honey Stinger (which reminded so much of the delicious Dutch stroopwafel), I knew I had been missing out.

Do you have a favorite product and flavor?

  • The Honey Waffle and Vanilla Waffle are probably my favorite, but I like them so much I had a tendency to hoard them so long that they lasted through multiple resupplies before I gave in and ate them. The Organic Energy Chews (Pink Lemonade, Fruit Smoothie, Orange Blossom) are my go-to favorite chew flavors. Once I started trying all the different energy snacks on the market, I found that the Honey Stinger chews are hands down the best.

What were your fueling strategies?

  • One of my strategies for big miles was to make sure to consume about 100 calories per hour. Equally important was to have a good snack just before a big climb. Some Organic Energy Chews were my favorite choice, and I’d make sure to have a pack ready in my hip belt before leaving camp in the morning.

Did you see Honey Stinger products on the trail with other hikers?

  • One of the things you learn early on when hiking is that your food is going to get smooshed. So when I first started buying the Organic Waffles I made sure to eat them the same day so they wouldn’t get crumbled and messy. I was hiking with another guy through the Shenandoah’s, and a few days into the park, he pulled out an Organic Waffle from his hip belt. I was shocked and asked him how he managed to keep it from getting crushed into a pile of crumbs. He informed me that he didn’t do anything special and that the waffles hold up well on their own. How right he was.

What did you learn from your time on the trail?

  • Hiking for 5 months is a long time
  • I’m highly adaptable. About halfway through my hike, I took a couple side trips to big cities (Chicago, and New York). Going from spending lots of time alone in the wilderness to taking subway trains packed with people made no difference to me. If it wasn’t for other people pointing out the peculiarity of it, I might not have even noticed at all.

Any other anecdotes you would like to share?

  • The “Half-Gallon Challenge” was an enjoyable experience. It was challenging to do it on a cold rainy day, soaking wet, and in under 20 minutes; but I still love ice cream as much as I did before, if not more so.

The famous toes, namesake to his trail name

To read more about “Toes” and his Appalachian Trail journey, visit his trail journal at http://www.trailjournals.com/toes .

 

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Honey Stinger Launches Online Dealer Portal For Convenient Product Ordering

We are excited to announce the launch of an online portal to be used by Honey Stinger retailers for easy and streamlined product ordering. Through the online portal, dealers may now order Honey Stinger product at their convenience without business-hour limitations, as well as access the Honey Stinger image bank, latest product catalog and press highlights.

Utilizing the new Quick Order Form, dealers can quickly and conveniently add any Honey Stinger food items to their shopping cart from a single screen. The checkout process will auto-populate a dealer’s billing and shipping addresses, allowing for expedited ordering.

“We understand that dealers want a simple and convenient way to order product on their schedules,” says Jennifer Shea, Honey Stinger national sales manager. “Staying customer-focused in all of our technology decisions, we’ve launched a user-friendly dealer portal using the same interface as http://honeystinger.com.”

Interested dealers should contact their account representatives in order to create an online account and login to the portal. To access the online portal, please visit: http://dealer.honeystinger.com.

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Honey Stinger Fuels University of Denver Athletics as an Official Nutrition Partner

Honey Stinger, the leading manufacturer of honey-based nutritional products, announces a sponsorship agreement with Denver Sports Properties, a division of OUTFRONT Media Sports, and the University of Denver Department of Athletics and Recreation for the 2015-2016 school year. As part of the agreement, Honey Stinger will fuel the University’s student athletes as one of the sports nutrition partners of the Denver Pioneers.

Honey Stinger is honored to partner with DU Athletics and fuel their student athletes with our nutrition products,” says Len Zanni, Honey Stinger marketing director. “From students using the Coors Fitness Center training and athletic facilities, to the aspiring professional and recreational athletes in the University’s distinguished Varsity and Club Sports programs, our products are well-suited to support any and all athletic pursuits.”

“We are excited to partner with Honey Stinger for the 2015-2016 season, as our student athletes have been using the their product since early fall,” said Brad Ferrell, Denver Sports Properties general manager.   “We have had a great response in regards to taste and effectiveness.”

Honey Stinger will acHoney Stinger DU scrimmagetivate with on-campus product sampling at DU and the Coors Fitness Center, as well as in-game promotions at one home game for the 2015 NCAA Div. I national champion men’s lacrosse team and three home games for the perennial NCAA tournament-qualifying men’s hockey team. As an official nutrition partner, Honey Stinger’s logo will appear in the Bowlen Training Center and in various highly visible locations at all home games held in Magness Arena. In addition, Honey Stinger branding will be visible at all men’s lacrosse home games at Peter Barton Stadium. Student athletes will have access to Honey Stinger products at the Bowlen Training Center and various locations on campus.

About OUTFRONT Media Sports

OUTFRONT Media Sports, a division of OUTFRONT Media Inc. (NYSE: OUT), is the marketing and multimedia rights holder for some of the most prestigious collegiate teams and sports venues across the country. The creative implementation of in-venue and on-campus digital displays, influence media, marketing affiliation, experiential entertainment, and game day domination benefit universities, alumni, students, and passionate fan bases. Bringing to life these valuable, eye-catching, engaging and results-driven assets attracts a highly sought-after audience for OUTFRONT Media Sports advertisers.

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Honey Stinger Teams Up With Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (October 15, 2015) — We are pleased to be the official gel sponsor of the 2015 Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco. Honey Stinger will provide gels for a training series leading up to the race, in Nike VIP and early-bird registration bags, and at on course at aid station number four along the scenic San Francisco race route, which starts downtown in Union Square and finishes in the Marina neighborhood on Sunday, October 18.

Gel flavors to be featured on course at Nike Women’s Half.

“We are thrilled to introduce the 25,000 runners on this stop of the Run Nike Women Series to our energy gels,” says Len Zanni, Honey Stinger marketing director. “Honey Stinger gels are dramatically different from other energy gels on the market, as they contain honey and other organic ingredients, making them easy to digest during exercise while providing the calories needed to perform.”

Honey Stinger’s Classic Energy Gels contain 95 percent honey, fortified with B vitamins and electrolytes in two flavors: Classic Gold and Caffeinated Ginsting. Stinger Organic Energy Gels combine a blend of organic tapioca syrup, organic honey, electrolytes, sodium and potassium in six flavors: Fruit Smoothie, Acai Pomegranate, Vanilla, Caffeinated Chocolate, Caffeinated Strawberry Kiwi and available January 1, new Mango Orange.

For more information on the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco, please visit: https://www.nike.com/events-registration/event?id=9264.

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Honey Stinger Now Accepting Hive Grassroots Sponsorship Applications

hive pic(STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.) October 12, 2015—Our Hive Grassroots Program is now open, and we are accepting applications for the 2015-16 season. Back for its 10th season, the Hive program supports professional and amateur athletes and teams with discounted Honey Stinger products and merchandise.

“Our Hive athletes are some of our most important brand ambassadors,” says Honey Stinger marketing director, Len Zanni. “We’re proud to fuel committed individuals and teams who are pushing themselves to be better every day and making a difference in their communities,”

Last year, nearly 1,400 athletes and 250 teams participated in the Hive program.

Those interested in Hive sponsorship may apply via an online form on the Honey Stinger website. In addition, Honey Stinger is also accepting applications on the digital sports platform, Hookit. Honey Stinger partnered with Hookit earlier this year to grow the Hive program and recruit influential athletes across a wide spectrum of sports, from cycling to motocross. Sting or Bee Stung!

 

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Honey Stinger Introduces New Product Categories at Interbike: Gluten Free Waffles and Protein Chews

Honey Stinger will unveil two new product lines, Gluten Free Organic Stinger Waffles and Protein Energy Chews, this week at the Interbike cycling trade show in Las Vegas. The company will also introduce a fifth flavor, Mango Orange, to its Organic Energy Gel line.

“We developed the line of Gluten Free Waffles in response to our most frequent customer request—to meet the nutritional needs of those avoiding gluten in training or dietary restrictions while maintaining the great taste of our original Stinger Waffles,” says Jennifer Shea, Honey Stinger national sales manager. “The addition of the Gluten Free Waffles and the Protein Energy Chews not only strengthens our roster of nutritious and great-tasting, honey-based foods, they set us apart from all other nutrition brands. Customer and consumer demand for an additional Organic Energy Gel flavor also drove the launch of Mango Orange.”

GFWaffle_CinnamonHoney Stinger Gluten Free Waffles will be available January 2016 in three flavors: Cinnamon, Salted Caramel and Maple. The traditional stroopwafel, a waffle made from two thin layers of baked batter with syrup filling, originated over 200 years ago in the Netherlands and remains popular today. Honey Stinger’s version uses organic honey and other organic ingredients rather than syrup, making Stinger Waffles certified USDA Organic. The Gluten Free Organic Waffle is the only product of its kind, available in a single serving wrapper, MSRP $1.49.

ProChews_RaspberryAvailable January, 2016 in Raspberry, Juneberry and Cherry-Lime flavors, Protein Energy Chews maintain the same size and similar texture of the original Organic Energy Chews, but are unique in that they are the first chews to include naturally occurring fiber plus five grams of plant-based protein for sustained energy and recovery. Protein Energy Chews provide 100% of the recommended dietary allowance of essential Vitamin C, and Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) for optimal energy absorption into the body pre and during activity. MSRP $2.49.MangoOrangeGel

New Mango Orange Organic Energy Gels will be available January 2016. Mango Orange Organic Energy Gels are certified gluten free with organic tapioca syrup, organic honey, added electrolytes and a blend of natural flavors, MSRP $1.39.

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Racers Return to Steamboat for Fifth Annual Steamboat Stinger

Honey Stinger hosted its popular mountain-bike and running event, the Steamboat Stinger, this past weekend. The event was the largest Stinger to date, drawing more than 900 competitors, with the mountain-bike race component reaching its maximum amount of 600 spaces back in late May.

“What started as a backyard fundraiser race and a vehicle to promote some of our local trails has truly become a cornerstone event for Honey Stinger and Steamboat Springs,” says Honey Stinger marketing director Len Zanni. “We’re humbled by the success of the race and the rave reviews we’ve received from competitors this year. Our hats are off to all of this year’s finishers and volunteers.”

The 50-mile mountain-bike race took place on Saturday, covering singletrack on Steamboat’s Emerald Mountain two 25-mile laps starting near the base of Howelsen Hill and ending via Lupine and Bluff’s Loop. Riders in Saturday’s race could opt to ride the course solo or in a duo team with riders alternating laps. Sunday’s running competitors raced either a marathon, covering the same trail as one lap of the mountain bike race, or a half marathon, covering a portion of the trail.

Back for his third win, Russell Finsterwald of Colorado Springs finished nearly six minutes ahead of the pro/open men’s field in 4:04:22, with Kerry Werner in second and Chris Baddick in third. Park City native Emma Garrand, won the pro/open women’s division with a time of 5:07:38, ahead of second place finisher, Jari Kirkland, and third place finisher, Jennifer Moos. In the citizen division, Robert Umland finished first among men while Megan Short won the women’s race. In the duo divisions, Ian Anderson and Spencer Powlinson took first for the men, while JB Brockman and Maura McGovern won for the women. Brad Bingham and Hannah Williams led the coed duo division.

Andrew Biglow of Littleton took first in Sunday’s trail marathon, finishing in 3:19:21, while James Johnson finished first for the fifth consecutive year in Sunday’s half marathon with a time of 1:33:21. Reese Ruland of Fort Collins won the women’s trail marathon with a time of 4:15:24, while Whitney Barrett led the women in Sunday’s half marathon with a time of 1:44:17. John Fitzgerald was crowned King Sting, completing the full bike race and marathon with a combined time of 8:40:21. Second-place pro division finisher, Jari Kirkland, took home the title of Queen Bee, finishing both events with a combined time of 10:04:09.

The 2015 Steamboat Stinger wrapped up a three-race mountain bike series that included the Firecracker 50 and the Gunnison Growler in addition to the Stinger. The two-day event also served as a prelude to the first stage of the USA Pro Challenge road cycling race, which began Monday in Steamboat. Proceeds from the Steamboat Stinger will benefit two local non-profits: Partners in Routt County, and local IMBA chapter, Routt County Riders

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Adventures in Fueling

Hive athlete, Adam Danks, shares his adventures in fueling during his beloved treadmill workouts ;):

Don’t do anything new on race day!  That’s the first answer that typically follows any question about fueling for a race, right?  There are pitfalls (not to mention porto-johns) that await you if you neglect this little golden nugget of conventional wisdom.  Sure, toward the end of a race, you may need to eschew all kinds of traditional thoughts on the matter and just throw random calories at the problem if you find your body in serious need.  But, if you’ve prepared properly, then you’re hammering your way toward victory lane with your favorite gel, chew, waffle, beverage, whatever, in your mouthparts. Honey Stinger gels

Following my own advice, I decided to use one BLISTERING day in Phoenix to try something new before an upcoming race.  Temps had hit 115 degrees for a few days in a row, and I needed to get my last strength interval session in before the Missoula Marathon.  So, I gritted my teeth, bought a month-to-month gym membership (not joking!) and proceeded to step onto a treadmill for a 2 x 5mi. interval session.  I would put in 15 total miles, listen to a couple hours of music from my “I Hate Treadmills” playlist, and inhale what I think was smoke coming off the motor of this hideous machine before I got out of there!  The beauty of it was… I had a way to distract myself from all of it!

My go-to fuel over the past few months has been the Pink Lemonade Honey Stinger Chews.  But, as is evidenced by my distain for treadmills, I don’t do so well with stagnation or monotony for very long.  So, I decided to give something else a try!  I would hit my stride and try out the Honey Stinger Ginsting and Vanilla Gels.  Controlled environment, known workout specifics, dreadmill negativity combated by conscious new fuel scrutiny?  It was a great combo!

I started with the Vanilla gel during my warm up miles and then started my first 5 mile effort.  I wanted to try to caffeinated burst from the Ginsting gels later in the workout just in case they happened to cause any stomach issues.  Good results on the first interval from the Vanilla, and then I hit the first Ginsting gel at the beginning of my mid-run rest mile.  Soon after that, I was off on my next 5 mile effort and really pushing.  I had a lot of energy and was able to push hard during the final couple of miles!  I took one final Ginsting gel right at the end of the workout so that I could evaluate the longer effects of the gels in my system.  They worked really well for me, and I was really glad I had put in a little research prior to my race.  Options are always good!

So, what did I learn?  1) still not a treadmill fan  2) I liked the Ginsting gels a lot and will definitely be using those for future racing  3) planning ahead works and it’s a good excuse for distracting yourself from any number of #runnerproblems !  #stingorbeestung

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A Year in the Life of the Haefeli Honey Bees

Honey

Honey Stinger at the Haefeli Honey Store in Del Norte

The Haefeli Honey Farm has been around for a long time. In fact, they have been great friends with Honey Stinger for a while. Tom Haefeli is a fifth generation beekeeper. He recently gave us a run down on his busy bees:

Our bees make a circuit. They are currently here in CO for the summer, which is for clover honey production. We ship them to West Texas (Presidio area) in October for the winter. Down there, they just hang out and get some rest.

Late January, we ship them to Central California for almond pollination. That lasts for a month and a half. No honey is made, just pollinating the trees. 1.6 million colonies of bees are needed in CA just for the almond crop!

Honey Stinger

Haefeli Honey Farm

By mid-March, the bees head back to TX where we set up half the colonies for spring honey production. The other half we split in two and introduce new queens. This makes up for colony losses over the past year. We used to split less, but yearly losses have climbed dramatically in the past ten years. You will read that even though yearly losses are way up, the colony population in the U.S. is stable. Beekeepers are keeping that population stable by making more “splits” every spring.

If you look at our Facebook page, there is a very cool video son John did two years ago. He set up his GoPro and did a time lapse of us unloading a semi load of bees.

For a plant to reproduce, an exchange of pollen is required. In some plants, this is done by the wind. Most plants require a visit by an insect and often birds. Plants have evolved a process in which they offer a reward to the insect: nectar. Insects use the nectar as their carbohydrate source and haul pollen (protein) back to the nest. We humans do everything on different scales than Ma Nature. We plant a bazzilion plants in relatively small areas. There are simply not enough indigenous pollinators to do the job. Bring in the Commercial Beekeeper! We can place several million pollinators in just one night.

As for the bees: honey bees are about the only pollinator out there that produces a surplus. That is where our honey comes from. We take some of that surplus and leave them enough to get through the winter.

Honeybees2Nectar is taken into the honey stomach, and transported back to the hive. While in the honey stomach, the nectar is infused with enzymes. Deposited in the honey comb, the nectar/enzyme mix is 80% water. The bees will allow the mix to dehydrate to around 15-17% water and you have honey! The bees then place a wax capping on the honeycomb cell, and that honey will remain at that moisture level, and fresh, until opened up again by the bees for consumption (or when we do it to extract the honey).

Learn more about the Haefeli Honey Farm by visiting www.haefelihoney.com.

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A Finish to Remember

Hive athlete, Kyle Burnell, reflects on his recent triathlon with a very memorable finish:

I’m often asked how being a new father impacts my ability to train and race at a high level. The question to how the new addition to our family would impact my racing has been a difficult one to answer simply because I haven’t raced much since his birth at the end of March. In my one attempt, a half marathon in May, things went exceptionally well. However, one instance doesn’t make a trend. So heading into the Sebago Lake Olympic Tri,  I wasn’t exactly sure how I would hold up to the demands of racing. My training indicated that I was ready for a fantastic season, but transforming that into actual race results is a difficult task.

Photo cred: race photographer

Photo cred: race photographer

Over the past two seasons I have been diligent with regards to my pre-race and race nutrition. For years I struggled to find nutrition solution that I could tolerate while racing near the red line. Similarly, I’ve never been able to eat the morning of a race due to nerves. I tried countless products with little success; what would work in training never held up to the conditions racing presents. Enter Honey Stinger. The waffles are amazing and provided the perfect pre race fuel. Add in a gel or two during warm up and a few more on the bike and I was able to eliminate any worry of nutritional issues. The ability to trust the fuel I’m putting in my body is key. It’s one less thing to worry about, allowing me to focus completely on the race itself.

Photo cred: race photographer

The race itself got off to a relatively boring start as two of us broke away early, making it a two man race from the gun. On the bike, I rode hard, but not irresponsibly. I made sure to keep the pace honest, knowing that I had a solid run in my pocket. By the mid point of the ride it was clear that things wouldn’t break apart until we were on the run so I remained patient.

Photo cred: race photographer

After exchanging our bikes for racing flats, we headed out on the run course where we ticked off splits in the 6:00-6:10 range for the first four miles. This pace was comfortable for me and I knew I had more to give, but I didn’t want to play my cards too early and blow up late in the race. It wasn’t until there were only two miles remaining that I made any significant move in order to secure the win. It took three mini moves for the elastic to finally snap. The first two surges, only about 10 seconds in length, took place on slight uphills. After each, I settled in and was rejoined. The third and final move came at an aid station where I skipped the fluids and my running mate went for water. A solid 60 second push into the mid 5:30s broke the race open and allowed me plenty of space and time to enjoy the victory during final mile of the race.

Photo cred: race photographer

As I neared the finish line I looked desperately for Eileen and Kellan. Since learning Eileen was pregnant I’ve wanted to win a race with my son in my arms and now I had the opportunity. Fortunately, they were at the start of the finishing chute and I had plenty of time to stop and make the handoff. I quickly found that running with a baby in my arms is more difficult that I’d imagined. So my celebratory stroll to the finish was more of a walk than a run. But I didn’t care. The time on the clock didn’t matter. I’d crossed first and I’d done so with my little buddy in my arms.

I’ve been fortunate to win a decent number of races in my career, but none was as special as this. To be able to share the moment with my son, even though he’ll never remember it, was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget.

Read about Kyle’s races on his blog: http://kyleburnell.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter: @tri3kb

 

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