Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Glazed and Confused -- The Krispy Kreme Challenge Race Report

The late American distance running phenom Steve Prefontaine once said, "A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts." "Pre" probably never ran an event quite like the Krispy Kreme Challenge, but it's a race that definitely puts his adage to the test.

Part race, part eating contest, the challenge is the ultimate test of gastrointestinal fortitude. Run two miles from the NC State University Belltower on Hillsborough Street to the Krispy Kreme store on Person and Peace streets in downtown Raleigh. Eat a dozen glazed doughnuts, then run two miles back to campus – all in under an hour.

Since the event combined two things I absolutely love – running and doughnuts – I joined the 3,000 other participants this past Saturday to take part in the challenge.

When I first heard of the challenge last year, it seemed like the perfect kind of quirky running event that I look for when searching the local race calendars. The Krispy Kreme Challenge became a must-run event for me on my 2008 racing schedule. And besides, the student-organized fundraising event helped raise $20,000 for the N.C. Children's Hospital, so I was doing it for the kids.

My year's worth of anticipation and excitement gave way to a case of the nerves in the days leading up to the race. As an avid runner, I figured the four miles wouldn't be a problem. Stopping in the middle to eat a dozen doughnuts? That's where the anxiety came in. How exactly do you train for an event that combines a runner's high with a sugar rush?

In preparing for my first marathon two years ago, I researched all the available information about staying properly hydrated and fueled over the course of 26.2 miles. I practiced drinking fluids and consuming energy gels on my long training runs until I knew my preparation would get me through the marathon. But there wasn't a tried and true training method for the challenge, as eating doughnuts while running isn't a technique you'll find in a copy of Runner's World.

So I showed up on Saturday confident in my legs, but uncertain about my stomach. I was more nervous prior to start of the Krispy Kreme Challenge than I had been before any of the other 52 previous road races I'd run.

At the sound of the starting gun, the mass of runners sprinted down Hillsborough Street, led to the Krispy Kreme store by – what else? – an escort from the Raleigh police. I set a leisurely pace, arriving at Krispy Kreme in a little over 20 minutes. I confidently grabbed my box of doughnuts, tossed open the lid, and was confronted by 12 innocent-looking, glazed rings of dough. A dozen Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts contain 2,400 calories. This was carb-loading taken to a new level.

I downed my first doughnut by squeezing it into a compact mass, a technique I'd heard described as timely and efficient. This technique wasn't for me, however, so I opted for a more traditional approach – eat them one at a time, try to enjoy them and try not to think about the run back.

The first five or six went down surprisingly easy. After the first half-dozen though, I felt the mass of dough and glaze settling and growing in my midsection. With time and space running out, my bites became smaller and more laborious as my insides became larger and more expansive. It felt like a helium balloon was being blown up inside my stomach. I still don't know how I got the last three down.

After downing a bit of water, I proudly showed my empty box to a race volunteer who checked my race bib as proof that I'd completed my dozen. As I took my first feeble steps back to the Belltower, I glanced at my watch and learned that I only had about 10 minutes to make it back in order to complete the feat in under an hour. That wasn't happening. My new challenge became keeping the doughnuts down.

"Oh, I didn't need to see that!" I exclaimed just a short ways past the Krispy Kreme on the return route. I'll spare you the description, but it was the first of several such patches of pastries that were scattered (and splattered) along the road.

By design and necessity, I settled into a slower pace on my trek back to campus. Despite some rumblings, I kept the load of lard down for the two miles back, joyfully ascending the Belltower steps with an unofficial time of 1 hour and 12 minutes.

In the final analysis, I underestimated how long it would take to consume a dozen doughnuts. Mentally, I divided this race into thirds – allotting 20 minutes for the run down, 20 minutes to eat the doughnuts and 20 minutes for the run back. I was close on the running, but eating the doughnuts took me closer to half an hour.

So looking ahead to next year, I'll be eager to take 12 minutes off my finishing time to earn the coveted challenge finisher shirt. I'll just need to shave off one minute for every doughnut consumed. That's doable, right? Besides, no guts, no glory. "Pre" most certainly would agree.

See you at next year's challenge, a race that certainly puts the "nuts" in doughnuts.

For more on the Krispy Kreme Challenge visit my friend Ashely's blog, my coworker David's on-the-spot reporting, the official race Web site or search "Krispy Kreme Challenge" on YouTube for no shortage of video accounts.

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At 12:59 PM, Blogger AfterShock said...

Congratulations on finishing the challenge without "losing your lunch" so-to-speak. I wish Chris and I could've been there to film it. There is always next year though! :)

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Ashely said...

I love your recap! Be proud! You didn't puke!

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous feistync said...

way to hang in there! i'll definitely be back next year as well. what a fun time!

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Molly said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger wetcat0104 said...

I am Jaime Trunick's brother. I am not an avid runner any more, but I must say that this race may be the motivation I was looking for. I will check out the details of the race, and plan to be their next year. Tell Jaime I said Hello

At 7:01 PM, Blogger Chris Knight said...

It's so fascinating that you can blog about running while eating donuts, but when it comes to something else REALLY important like (ahem) GETTING ENGAGED...?!?


At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Kristel Reid Faris said...

Hello Chad. I believe, if I am not mistaken, that you are engaged to my long lost friend Koren. If I have this right, then please let her know that her friend Kristel in NH is trying to reconnect with her! :) I am so happy you both found each other and I want to hear all about could you please pass along this message? My email addy is Thanks!!!

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