Thousands of runners take on Krispy Kreme Challenge

Posted February 7, 2009 6:40 a.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2011 7:54 a.m. EST

— More than 5,200 intrepid "athletes" warmed up and ran in the fifth annual Krispy Kreme Challenge in downtown Raleigh Saturday.

From a starting line at North Carolina State University's bell tower, participants took off at 9:30 a.m. on a two-mile run to the Krispy Kreme at Peace and Person streets. They tried to consume a dozen of the shop's signature donuts and then race back to the start – in less than an hour.

"Luckily I had some water with me to keep the juices flowing downward and not upward," said senior physics major Brian Vlastakis, noting that others weren't so lucky. "I saw some people run across the street to the gas station and go behind the bushes for some privacy."

Waves of runners spilled into the store's parking lot about 30 minutes after the race began, with the veterans shoving doughnuts into cups of water and quickly eating several at a time. A few with sensitive stomachs dashed behind the gas station across the street.

Runners ate 48,000 doughnuts and raised $35,000 for the North Carolina Children's Hospital.

The tone of the event is evident in the costumed participants and the prominent mention of regurgitation on the event's Web site

It all began on a dare among college friends in December 2004. Then-freshman Ben Gaddy and a group of friends decided to take a challenge posed by friend Chris McCoy, a freshman basketball player who overslept that first Saturday stunt.

"I think he thought it would be funny," said Gaddy, who beat nine guys in 34:26 minutes after ingesting 2,400 calories and 144 grams of fat. "I guess that's just sort of the thing that college kids try to do... Eating challenges seem to be more popular."

Interest ballooned after a mention in Sports Illustrated On Campus, and about 150 racers signed up in January 2006. Gaddy said the next year about 1,500 people registered, and 3,300 turned out last year.

"There's always been discussions about how do you make it more challenging," Gaddy said. "Maybe cream filled?" had a photographer at the Krispy Kreme Challenge, and we encourage you to help us cover the chaos by sending your photos as well.

 Submit your photos from the Krispy Kreme Challenge.