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USA Insider Race to Survive: Alaska

'Race to Survive: Alaska' Star Hunter Still Can't Even Talk About the Clams

Hunter from "Race To Survive: Alaska" and his father opened up about their first night in the wild and his bad reaction to the clam rations.

By Tyler McCarthy
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It’s been the better part of a year since “Race to Survive: Alaska” was filmed and, after his horrible experience with the provided rations in Episode one, Hunter Leininger still can’t even talk about clams without being reminded of one of the worst nights of his life. 

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Hunter, an avid adventure racer, went on the show with his father, Jeff, to experience the greatest race of this kind in the world. Although their experience sets them apart from the other teams in the competition, so does their unique and somewhat surprising diet for survivalists. Hunter and Jeff are vegetarians.

As a result, when it came time to eat their provided clam rations in the wilderness, they didn’t sit well with Hunter, who spent the first night of the competition throwing up about 100 times. 

RELATED: Jeff Has Difficulty, Gets Injured In 'Race To Survive: Alaska' Episode 2

“Coming into this, even though we were vegetarians, we kind of started eating a little bit of meat products before we got into the event so that we could basically get our stomachs used to it,” Jeff told USAInsider in a recent interview. “We knew we were going to eat a lot of fish, so we were eating a lot of salmon prior to the show… But it still caught us by surprise, the rations that we got.” 

Hunter noted that the typical adventure races they do allow them to bring their own rations. However, having to live off the land and the provided clams ended up being the most difficult part of the journey — and that was about all he could stomach in terms of discussing clams. 

“The mileage, on paper, it sounds like it’s right up our alley,” he explained. “Just adventure race through the woods, nonstop, that’s what we do. That’s what we love doing. That’s what we’ve done for 15 years. So we didn’t think it would challenge us as much as it did, but once we got out there, it took us way outside our comfort zones.”

He added: “We’re used to having good race gels and protein bars and Clif bars, all this great stuff, but not being able to eat anything except clams, which I can’t eat. I’m allergic to them, which we find out. That was a big awakening. The distance didn’t intimidate us, but actually, the stopping and having to survive was something that caught us off guard because every adventure race we’ve done is just, you race through the night nonstop, you don’t sleep. You just keep pushing through. This, you actually have to stop every single night, set up a shelter, catch some fish, go get water, cook some food, all that stuff, and then get ready to go in the morning.

When asked if he’d been diagnosed with an allergy to clams since the show, Hunter said he hadn't gone to the doctor about it but his initial reaction to them was not something he’d like to repeat. In fact, talking about clams in general is not something he’s ready to do yet after that horrible, horrible night. 

“I don’t even wanna talk about clams anymore,” he politely requested with a laugh. 

His father then chimed in to note that the subject is officially off-limits in the Leininger household.

“Clams and mussels, we don’t talk about,” Jeff said. “That’s unspoken here in this family, yeah. We don’t talk about it.”

Although Hunter’s not-to-be-spoken-of-night may have initially made it seem like their vegetarian diets put them at a disadvantage, the pair told USA Insider that their stomach conditioning actually helped them in the long run.

“When you think of a survivor show, the worst thing you can do is be a vegetarian, in theory, because the only way you’re going to get a lot of food is to eat meat and fish and hunt for food. But that actually ended up being our biggest advantage and disadvantage,” Hunter explained. “You saw it was the biggest disadvantage because our bodies couldn’t handle the meat we were eating out there, but it was a big advantage for us because we didn’t need a big steak dinner to feel full. We could eat a few blueberries, a little mushroom, some plants here and there, and we were full the entire day.” 

He singled out the Alaska Bros, Oliver and Wilson Hoogendorn, who he said struggled with hunger and finding enough food to fuel them.

“They needed a full moose is what they needed,” Jeff joked. “They wanted a full moose each night to keep going.” 

See how Jeff and Hunter fare in the remainder of the competition on “Race To Survive: Alaska” every Monday at 11/10c on USA Network. You can catch more survival shows on Peacock now. 

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