RACE: Krispy Kreme Challenge
WHERE HELD: Raleigh, NC. Starts and finishes at the NC State Belltower. Turn around point is the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Store 2.5 Miles from the start.
COURSE: Closed Roads, some hills, mostly out and back
WHAT THE RACE BENEFITS: North Carolina Children’s Hospital
SWAG: You get a shirt and bib, but have to purchase your medal and anything else that you may want. They offer gloves, sweatshirt, beanies and more. In the final two weeks before the race, you can enter drawings via Facebook to win some merchandise.
LONG-DISTANCE DEDICATION: I dedicated my race to three people who benefited from pediatric medicine. All have died. Wendy, a Type 1 diabetic, died our freshman year of college of complications from the disease. Kevin, my dad, was born with one functioning kidney. He died two years ago after a long life. Clarice was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 13. The tumor kept coming back throughout her life until she died in her 60s.
How can you see Smokey and the Bandit, a bottle of Sriracha, and fans of the Patriots and Eagles in one place? Where can you see them eat a dozen doughnuts?
You attend the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh.
Held in February, the challenge is a 5-mile race organized by North Carolina State students. Proceeds of the race, now in its 14th year, help North Carolina Children’s Hospital.
The Krispy Kreme Challenge offers prospective racers various ways to participate. In order to fully participate, and be eligible for a race prize for your efforts, you must sign up as a challenger. Participants in this category must run the 5-mile course, eat a dozen doughnuts and finish within the one-hour time limit.
You can also do the challenge with a friend as a team, splitting the doughnuts, but you still have to cross in an hour.
Casual runners, can pick up a box of doughnuts, have as many as they’d like. They run the same five-miles just as everyone else, but usually have a box of doughnuts cradled in their arm or in a backpack.
Then you can just run. You just run the five-mile course and not have any doughnuts. That’s such as waste of a challenge. I’m joking, but everything is the same price.
I signed up as a competitor because, how long can it really take someone to eat a dozen doughnuts? I spent time training — the running part, not the eating part — since November in an effort to cut my mile times down a bit. I figured if I went faster than usual, I could make up time for the doughnut eating. I did look up some competitive eating articles and tried some of their techniques before the race.
Come race day though, those plans went out the window. There were more than 5,0000people signed up for this race, ranging from babies in strollers with their parents to master runners. Of those, about 2,000 were signed up as challengers.
There was Smokey and the Bandit, complete with cardboard vehicles that hung off suspenders. There were ninja turtles and people in various food costumes. There was even a chef who rolled a large doughnut that was about 5 feet tall throughout the course. Of those signed up for the race, 1,546 finished.
As we stood at the NC State Belltower waiting for the start, we counted down the seconds until the start. Then we walked. When you are moving 5,000-plus people down Hillsborough Street, it takes a while to get the momentum going. While I wasn’t at the back of the pack, it took a good two minutes before I actually crossed the start line.
Then we ran down Hillsborough Street to the State Capitol.
We turn and ended up on a street with a familiar name — Edenton Street. Edenton took us to the doughnut tables. Two rows of tables funneled the participants into three lanes. I grabbed my doughnuts and opened the box immediately. A friend of mine who has done the race before suggested squeezing the doughnuts to get the air out of them. I did, and proceeded to get sugar glaze on my hands. I found a tent set up by some of Krispy Kreme’s neighbors with some water and a space heater. I warmed up a little as I ate my doughnuts and then looked for the challengers’ shoot. As a challenger, you have to verify with course officials that you ate your doughnuts.
In the process I found participant 1917, Troy Smith. Earlier in the race, he ran beside me and told me I was doing a good job and to keep it up. Across from the Krispy Kreme, we were enjoying our doughnuts as best we could. And he was still encouraging me. I love that about races — how total strangers can come together as friends because they shared this experience together.
It took me 15 minutes to eat a dozen doughnuts, way more time than I thought. I headed back to Edenton Street and eventually to the NC State Belltower. Among the sights I saw were the State Capitol Building, the North Carolina Executive Mansion, Edenton Street United Methodist Church and St. Mary’s School.
Somewhere near the 4-mile marker, I could see the finish line. It was mostly uphill, but a worthwhile climb. Near the finish line, my sons and husband were cheering me on. I finished five minutes after the hour-time limit. The average challenge participant finished over the hour time limit.
I left the race with a new appreciation for odd events like the Krispy Kreme Challenge. It was fun, scary and exciting all at the same time. It was friendly from start to finish — from the spectators to the police officer playing Imagine Dragon’s “Thunder” on his vehicle’s speaker to the participants. I didn’t throw up, and had an awesome time. It’s a great family event (kids under 9 can participate with a paying adult for free).
This was a bucket list race for me — one I have wanted to run since 2013. I was scared and excited when I signed up. I felt that way at the starting line. But once we started run, it was one of the funnest events I’ve ever attended.