I have a new favorite race! Let me back up…
When I first started working at Sweet Relish my co-workers quickly tried to convince me to run the Krispy Kreme Challenge with them. Having graduated from NC State, home of the KKC, I knew all about the race, and my immediate answer was “No way!” When I lived in Raleigh I was part of a local run club that would always pass the Krispy Kreme, and just the smell of doughnuts always made my stomach turn. Since I couldn’t even handle the smell, I knew there was no way I could complete the challenge.
You see, the Krispy Kreme Challenge isn’t your average road race. You run 2.5 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 cold doughnuts, then run 2.5 miles back to the finish… and you have to do it in under an hour. Bonus points if you don’t puke. So that’s 5 miles and 2,400 calories in under 60 minutes. Like I said, no way I was signing up for that.
But, when one of my co-workers broke his ankle few weeks before the race, somebody had to step in. When I found out that I could change the registration to be a “casual runner” instead of a “challenger” – meaning I could just run and not eat the doughnuts, I agreed to do it. After all, it was a big road race, it was in my favorite city, and it was a chance to get to know my co-workers a little better outside of the office.
Even still, I was feeling reluctant the night before the race. Not gonna lie, I kind of hoped something would go wrong with my registration and I wouldn’t be able to run. I had nightmares of the race course looking like the stage in Pitch Perfect, basically a skating rink of vomit.
Eventually I got over myself and stopped by KK on Friday night to pick up my race bib and t-shirt. I stayed with my friend Sally that night which ended up being perfect because she lives just about .5 miles from the starting line. The race didn’t start until 8:30 am (I love late start times!) so I took my time and walked to the bell tower around 8:00 am. I was surprised by how many people there were – 8,000 – that’s 8 times more than my last half marathon. I was also super impressed by the organization of the event. I was expecting it to be a mess, but it was really well put together from packet pickup to pace groups .
The gun fired right at 8:30 and all 8,000 of us were off! You can’t tell from the above picture, but there were so many people in costumes. Evidently there was a costume contest and the best dressed won a prize. There was anything and everything you can imagine – hamsters, dudes in wedding dresses, Spartans, Pac-Man, the Mario Kart Crew… the list goes on and on. I didn’t dress up but I loved everyone that did because it kept me entertained the entire 5 miles. There were multiple occasions that I laughed out loud when I came up on a really funny costume.
When I made it to Krispy Kreme, it was like running head on into a brick wall. Thousands of people were standing around eating their doughnuts and I had no clue where to go. I definitely lost some minutes while navigating through the sea of people. Watching everyone stuff smushed up doughnuts in their mouths made me so glad I decided not to eat them.
Finally I found out where I was supposed to go (challengers went one way and casual runners went another) and got back to running. I knew the last 2.5 miles would be mostly uphill but that was the least of my worries. Now that everyone had been eating doughnuts I was more concerned about getting puked on.
Thankfully I only saw one active vommiter while I was running. I think that most of them must have been behind me since they had all stopped to eat. My goal for the race was to finish in under an hour. It was only 5 total miles but (1) I run slow and (2) I had no idea how long it would take me to get past all of the people at Krispy Kreme. When I looked at my Garmin when I got to Krispy Kreme (2.5 miles) and saw that I completed the first half in 21 minutes, I knew I was golden. I crossed the line at 54:14 and was really happy with that. In the past I’ve been disappointed with my race performances, so it was encouraging to see that I’m improving.
Props to the winner who ate all 12 doughnuts and crossed the finish line in 31:31. Seriously that’s impressive. 3 of my co-workers ate all of the doughnuts and managed to keep them all down. Anna (above) was a casual runner like me, but she ran back with her doughnuts and ate a few after she crossed the finish line. Apologies for the nearly naked dudes below… no idea who they are, just the only team photo we got after finishing.
So, would I do the Krispy Kreme Challenge again? Absolutely! But I’d do it just the same and wouldn’t eat the doughnuts… that would seriously kill me. I think 8k and 10k races are going to be my new favorite distance because they are long enough to be challenging but not so long that you finish and swear you’ll never run again.
What do you think? Would you take on the Krispy Kreme Challenge?