On February 5, 8:30 a.m., 7,500 people lined up in thick masses at the starting line by NCSU’s Bell Tower, pumped and excited to begin the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
The race began seven years ago as a dare by a group of college guys, the winner of which finished in a little over half an hour. Fame ensued; the college, and even Sports Illustrated, took interest in what the students did, placing it as 85 on the list of 101 things to do be before graduating. From there it evolved into an event open to the public, and all proceeds are given to the North Carolina’s Children Hospital.
Although popularity has increased throughout the years, the goal remains the same: run 2.25 miles to Krispy Kreme, consume a dozen doughnuts, and run the same distance back under an hour. One more thing–don’t puke. If the doughnuts come back up, it constitutes as an automatic loss.
Before the race that morning, the temperature had dropped below 40 degrees, and rain sent most of the crowd seeking refuge under ponchos and rain jackets.
Despite the less than desirable running conditions, people sill dressed in ridiculous costumes. I saw a girl in a red and white polka dot bikini, several guys without shirts and their name painted across the back, and many people in shorts and T-shirts. Apparently racers left their common sense at home with their warm clothes.
Music blasted over speakers as the competitors awaited the arrival of 8:30, when the hoards would be released. Finally the crowd chanted, counting down the remaining seconds until finally the masses were released.
People tried not to trip over themselves as we spread out, and within the first 30 seconds several people slipped on the slick cement, a warning of caution to the rest of us.
Words of encouragement passed between participants during each leg of the race, shouts which announced, “You’re almost there! Don’t give up!” They pumped their arms and beamed as fans along the side of the road shouted enthusiastically and cheered on the runners as they pressed on towards their goal.
As I jogged along Hillsborough Street, I saw a group of guys in footie pajamas with sombreros, a man with a large doughnut on his head, a man dressed as a cob of corn, and a girl dressed as Minnie Mouse. Wackjobs and serious runners alike come together to attempt the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
As we struggled up the last hill, the smell of sugar saturated the air. Just the sickly sweet smell made me feel nauseous–a bad omen.
I wove my way through the throng of people which slowed to pick up their square box of Krispy Kreme fundraiser doughnuts. A task easy enough, considering I have to navigate through the crowded halls and cafeteria at school everyday.
Once I put my hands on my own box, I grabbed the first two doughnuts, squeezed them together in my fist and shoved it into my mouth. I added another ring of fried dough to my clump, hoping that if I continued this way I wouldn’t realize how many I had eaten and would be done before I knew it.
The first half dozen were delicious. Normally I’m more of a Boston-Creme sort of girl, but these glazed were soft and sweet, albeit cold from sitting out in the freezing weather.
At seven doughnuts, I felt that I had reached my limit, but still I took another bite of my doughnut clump. I drank a cup of water, which washed everything down my throat, allowing me to take another bite.
As I forced down yet another bite, I walked around, surveying the hundreds of cups, boxes, and doughnut scraps strewn around Krispy Kreme’s parking lot. People stacked doughnuts on top of each other and flattened them, others washed off the glaze with water in order to be able to eat more. The water only made the doughnuts less appealing, making them harder to eat. By the time I put the last doughnut in my mouth, I was so full and so sick that I wanted to take it back out.
At the other side of the parking lot were two lanes leading back to the Bell Tower: the first was decorated with a large sign reading ‘Challengers’, the other for casual runners who didn’t finish all twelve donuts.
Casual runners are those who sign up just for the heck of it and are not obligated to finish their whole box, while challengers finish the whole dozen and attempt to run back in under and hour. A mountain of empty boxes sat next to the latter lane, remnants of their accomplishment.
I threw my box in the stack next to the challenger’s lane and started my run back. Well, it was more of a walk. I was focused on not throwing up, and jogging only made me more nauseous. I walked most of the way back, but on the flip side I ran all of the way there, so it evened out. Even though I didn’t make it under an hour, that’s still something to work on for next year.
Each doughnut is 200 calories, and the average person needs to run about twenty minutes to burn that off. Having consumed 2400 calories, I ate my fill for the day. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday morning… at least, that’s how I felt after the nausea faded away.
The Krispy Kreme Challenge, beside being a fun event to prepare for with friends or family, is a great cause; all proceeds benefit sick children. Free doughnuts, a free T-shirt, a crazy morning with crazy people, all to help out a sick child? Even if you don’t complete all of the goals, it’s a fantastic race.