Thousands huff, puff and stuff
On a dreary Saturday morning when it would have been tempting to pull up the covers and drift back into cozy sleep, thousands of hardy or hungry runners awoke to eat on the run.
This was either going to be a sweet, sweet dream. Or it had the potential to be a stomach-turning nightmare.
People of all ages came from near and far to take part in the seventh annual Krispy Kreme Challenge in downtown Raleigh.
As the ritual demands, they lined up at the N.C. State University Memorial Bell Tower, sloshed two miles through a chilly rain to the Krispy Kreme store on Person Street, and wolfed down a dozen doughnuts, or as close to 12 as they could manage.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
With bellies bloated, they had two more miles to go to the finish line, and a good portion of that was a steep climb.
“I had to stop a few times,” said Nathan Hirscher, 10, a fourth-grader at Raleigh Christian Academy who managed to keep down the three doughnuts he ingested midway through the challenge. Still, he said, “it was fun.”
Others echoed his feelings.
For some, the lure was a workout in which 2,400 calories and 144 grams of fat could be consumed and condoned.
For others, the draw was a charitable notion.
The absurd eating, while on the run, was for a good cause.
The N.C. State students who organized the event this year handed over a $100,000 check Saturday morning to the N.C. Children’s Hospital. More money could be coming once they’ve calculated total sales from T-shirts and other race memorabilia.
What started as a dare in December 2004 among 10 NCSU students has turned into a zany fundraising event that has grown exponentially and gotten national attention. Sports Illustrated recently put the challenge on its list of “102 More Things You Gotta Do Before You Graduate.”
Former N.C. State basketball player Chris McCoy has been credited with dreaming up the idea. One morning in December 2004, he and nine others were going to meet at the Bell Tower off Hillsborough Street and run a couple of miles to the Krispy Kreme store, where glazed doughnuts roll off the conveyor belt, piping hot. The college pals were to eat the sugary treats, then return to their starting point within an hour.
The thing is, McCoy didn’t show.
He either overslept, as one version of the challenge lore has it, or was sick and chose not to attend.
But the run went on.
And continues to go on – in part, participants say, because it’s such a madcap idea.
“It’s a bunch of college boys saying I bet you can’t do this,” said Cyril Sagan, 44, a self-described computer geek who works at SAS. “It’s like daring somebody to do something their mother wouldn’t want them to do.”
Eva Reimann, 21 an au pair who came to Raleigh from Switzerland, had never had a Krispy Kreme doughnut before Saturday morning. But one was enough. She saw no need to gorge.
Paul Lipchak, 33, who lives in Raleigh’s Cameron Park neighborhood, was tempted to pass on the opportunity to run four miles with a doughnut break in the middle. The rain was only part of his reason for reluctance.
“I didn’t like the thought of seeing people vomit in the street,” he said.
But Reimann and others persuaded him to venture out into the rain and get in a good workout. They ran across very few people who had trouble holding down the sweets.
Winner breaks 30:00
Nearly 7,500 people were registered for the race, and more than 5,500 crossed the finish line.
Jeff Glick, 27, an Army captain based at Fort Bragg, was the first back. By his watch, he made it in just under 30 minutes. And yes, he ate all dozen doughnuts.
Borrowing a method from competitive eaters, he stacked them into three piles of four, smashed them together, took big bites, swallowed them quickly and chased them with water.
“A friend of mine told me about this and I just kind of signed up on a whim,” said Glick, a 2005 West Point graduate, after collecting his trophy – a real doughnut mounted on a small stand. “People like a challenge, and they like doing something stupid. It’s so ridiculous, it was a good time. Terrible weather, but it was fun.”