Fueling up with beef

Amanda Radke
for Tri-State Livestock News

Although beef is sometimes blamed for the obesity epidemic and chronic diseases, this animal protein is power-packed with nutrients, including zinc, iron and protein, as well as B vitamins and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Despite the negative rhetoric spouted by the media and some nutritionists, the tides are turning, and athletes are now more likely to turn to beef for their pre-race meal than pasta.

Taking advantage of this new trend, the first ever Beefin’ It Up: Fuel For The Finish 5K/10K Run and Walk, sponsored by the North Dakota Cattle Women (NDCW), was held on Oct. 6, in Mandan, ND. Proceeds of the race will be used to purchase beef nutrition books and materials for the state’s elementary schools.

More than 175 runners competed in the event, with several representing beef producers and Team Beef, including Daren Williams, executive director of communications for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) from Denver, CO, Calli Thorne, a rancher and NDSU Extension agent from Watford City, ND and Dani Beer, a director on the U.S. Cattlemen’s Beef Board and rancher from Lemmon, SD.

One of the event’s coordinators, Sheila Ressler, recapped the event.

“Every participant received a ‘Beef it’s what’s for Dinner’ reusable grocery bag, along with various recipes and beef information from the North Dakota Beef Commission along with a ‘Beefin’ It Up; Fuel for the Finish’ moisture wick t-shirt with their registration packet,” said Ressler. “When they crossed the finish line, runners received a ‘Beefin’ It Up’ medal, beef stick and string cheese. In addition, there were seven division winners for both the runs, each receiving a copy of “The Healthy Beef Cookbook’. Winners for the walk each received ‘I Heart Beef’ aprons. We also had various beef door prizes, such as cutting boards, meat thermometer, basting brushes and pins.”

NDCW invited local CBS and NBC TV stations to cover the event, and Facebook was widely utilized to promote the event.

“I think for me, this event has really helped me gain the confidence in what beef can do for your body,” she said. “When I had beef for supper after the next day’s workout, I felt like I really killed it; the protein really gave me the edge to complete a workout and feel awesome when I was done!”

Another NDCW member and event coordinator, Kathy Tokach from Saint Anthony, ND, added her thoughts from the event.

“The overall feel of the runners and walkers was that it was a great event,” said Tokach. “I was really excited with all the positive comments by everyone; they truly had fun; they loved the scenery and thought the trail was a little more challenging than they were used to. Despite the tough course and strong winds, we are proud that the runners were able to accomplish the race to the finish.”

Undoubtedly, NDCW promoted beef in a positive light to the participating athletes.

“We need to promote beef and exercise because of all the significant research that has been done on the nutritional value of beef and the calorie comparison with other proteins,” she added. “Daren Williams encouraged us to tell each runner when they received their beef stick that it is ‘nature’s protein bar,” and that is so true. We need to find more ways to promote beef nutrition, and I think the run/walk is a way to have consumers see beef in a new light. By getting new or current beef books in the elementary schools, we will hopefully be able to help the students understand the life of farmers and ranchers and where their food comes from – that students just like them live on the ranch and go to school everyday like they do, but the rancher students are the ones helping with the food we eat everyday.”

Now that NDCW has one race under their belt, they hope to make this an annual tradition, where they focus on healthy eating and daily exercise, as well as promoting beef and agriculture to racers, community members, students and parents.