Krispy Kreme Challenge 2012 Race Report

After my shocking defeat at last year’s Krispy Kreme Challenge, I was back this year for some revenge… in a wussier division. HERE is my report from last year for your amusement.

The original challenge is:

  • Run 2 miles.
  • Eat one dozen Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts.
  • Run 2 miles.

Last year, I registered for the more illustrious “Doughnutman” Division, which was:

  • Run 2 miles.
  • Eat one dozen doughnuts.
  • Run 2 miles.
  • Eat ANOTHER dozen doughnuts.
  • Run 2 miles.

I couldn’t do it. Not even close.

This year, I opted for the “Lite” Division:

  • Run 2 miles.
  • Eat half a dozen doughnuts.
  • Run 2 miles.

The race took place at DeAnza Cove at Mission Bay. It was a perfect morning for running: sunny and breezy. A vast improvement from last year’s pouring rain. We arrived in the RV with Shacky, Pat, and Ginger in tow. Pat was running to win, Shacky was running to finish, I was running to not puke, and Ginger was just running.

Group shot L to R: Pat, Rusty, me, Shacky

There was a great vibe at the race start and we warmed up by doing pull-ups. Except for Ginger because she doesn’t have any thumbs. I was thinking about running in shoes, but when I saw the flat, smooth sidewalk, I decided to go barefoot.

This is where we would be running.

This is where we would be eating doughnuts.

WOO pullup!

Pat almost sprained his pinkies.

So strong!!

The first two miles were great. We ran out one mile on Mission Bay, turned around, and came back. I was near the back of the pack. I was trying to push my speed, but it was still cold out and my feet were getting numb on the pavement. I tried to hop on to the grass, but that didn’t help much. So I just accepted a slower, comfortable pace, and finished up my first two miles.

The leaders fighting it out! (Lynne Cao Photography)

As I was finishing my miles, I saw the first place runner sprinting back out for his final laps, with his cheeks stuffed with doughnuts. He looked like death. He was grimacing, and his face looked white. Then I saw Pat heading out, not looking so hot either. His cheeks were also stuffed with doughnut.

When I got into the eater’s corral with my six doughnuts, most people were already munching. It was a somber, foul mood. Everyone had their heads down, overwhelmed in their own personal hells.

Yum? (Lynne Cao Photography)

Hitting the wall…. (Lynne Cao Photography)

Digging deep! (Lynne Cao Photography)

Last year, I imagined that I might actually enjoy the first couple of doughnuts. But this year I knew better. It sucks from the very beginning. As soon as you open that box and the smell of sugar and dough hits you, you immediately want to hurl. All you can do is take bite after bite, and hope to God that nobody starts puking around you.

Last year, there was so much vomiting, but this year people really held down their doughnuts. Pat and I developed a theory that when ONE person vomits, that sets off a chain reaction and everybody goes off after that. But if you don’t see anyone else throwing up, it’s easier to keep the doughnuts down.

Also last year you weren’t allowed to leave the corral until your mouth was empty, but this year you were allowed to stuff your face and finish chewing/swallowing on your final laps. I think this made for slightly faster times.

I flattened three doughnuts together into a pancake, and started eating. I tried to chew only as much as I needed to in order to manage a swallow, and I took two big bites at a time. In real life, I’m a super slow eater. I had to really concentrate on what I was doing to eat faster.

At first, I was looking around to see if anyone had a better strategy, but the eating was so disgusting that I would start gagging if I looked around for too long. People were stuffing and spewing and making terrible faces. So I just kept my head down and concentrated on my own doughnuts.

When I finished my three doughnuts, I flattened the other three in the same way and kept plugging away. I waited until I only had about four bites left, and walked over to the road again, tossing my doughnut box and stuffing the rest into my cheeks.

Just as I was getting ready to leave, Pat came in (finished the race) and asked how I was doing. At that moment, one piece of doughnut went a little too far down my throat, and I had to choose between keeping it down, or answering him. I just nodded and walked back to the eater’s corral—I couldn’t run with my cheeks this stuffed. I took a couple of extra minutes to chew and swallow, re-stuffed my cheeks, and took off.

Because I had only done six doughnuts, I was now ahead of Shacky and many others. It took me a good quarter mile at least to finish chewing and swallowing what I had in my mouth. The two miles went by more quickly, since I was concentrating on not throwing up. I kept a steady pace, but not sprinting. I didn’t want to make myself sick. There were two girls ahead of me, but one of them had done the dozen. There really weren’t many girls at this event to start with.

I saw Shacky on the out and back, and I had a good lead on him. Of course, he had eaten twice as many doughnuts as I did. Less than a mile to go, I spotted Pat who had run back to take pictures of us. I was feeling better and I knew I would be keeping the doughnuts down. It actually felt more comfortable to jog than to stand still with a belly full of glaze.

Doughnut high!

I finally swallowed!

We took some photos and then the finish line was right there! I sped up a little and ran it in: 48 minutes (second female in the Lite division, 5th Lite overall). Carlos was right behind me, and I watched Shacky come in. At the finish line, Shacky busted out some salt and vinegar crickets and some spiced larvae, which we ate and used to horrify the other runners.

Shacky running it in! (Lynne Cao Photography)

Me eating a cricket

More crickets…

… and worms!

It was a good day.

One thing I love about the Krispy Kreme Challenge is the high level of athletes that come out for this fun run. As Keith Kirby, the Race Director, pointed out: We had 100-mile finishers, Badwater finishers, and athletes of all levels. One of the competitors was Nickademus Anthony Hollon, who currently holds the record for being the youngest Badwater finisher. He confirmed that out of all the races he’s run, this easily ranks in the top five when it comes to difficulty.

I know exactly what he means.

There’s something about eating all those god-awful doughnuts that takes you straight to mile 75 at an ultra. Your body wants to shut down. You can’t remember why you registered for this. Every moment is terrible. You have no will to go on. And pushing through that gives you a good perspective of what it’s like to finish a 100-miler. The physical pain isn’t there, but the mental struggle is strikingly similar.

I also strongly recommend this race for anyone who needs some “sweets aversion” therapy. If you have a sweet tooth that challenges your diet year-round, this race might cure you of it. I used to like baked goods. I really did. But since the Krispy Kreme Challenge last year, I did not have a single craving, and was even sometimes repulsed by the thought of eating a cake or doughnut. You learn to hate even the smell of baked goods for at least a year.

Last year when I ate a dozen, I felt sick for three days. I could barely eat. With only six doughnuts this year, my recovery was much better. I felt good (and hungry again!) by the next day. It also really made me crave some fresh veggies. I am never more thankful for a clean, green diet than after the doughnut run. I’ve been vegan for almost a month now, and I wondered if this race would be a fun “cheat”. Instead, all it did was make me happy to be vegan and eager to go back to my regular diet.

Some people don’t want to sign up for the Krispy Kreme Challenge because it’s not a “serious” race. I assure you it’s not joke. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also incredibly horrifying and difficult. Completing this challenge will make you a stronger runner. It will teach you something valuable about your body, and it will make any stomach issues you get at future races seem that much easier to handle.

See you next year!

(Lynne Cao Photography)

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Krispy Kreme 2011 Race Report

Eat & Run Book Review

Why You Should Stop Rationalizing Running

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The Krispy Kreme Challenge Race Report

Death by doughnut. That should be the slogan for this race.

If you want to experience all the difficulty and hardships of an ultra marathon in only 4 miles, sign up for the Krispy Kreme Challenge.

If you want to hit the wall, simulate altitude sickness and test the true strength of your running mantras, sign up for the Krispy Kreme Doughnutman Challenge.

The Krispy Kreme Challenge is:

  • Run 2 miles
  • Eat one dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts
  • Run 2 miles

The Doughnutman Challenge is:

  • Run 2 miles
  • Eat one dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts
  • Run 2 miles
  • Eat another dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts
  • Run 2 miles

I signed up for the Doughnutman.

Before this, I had only eaten one Krispy Kreme doughnut in my life, and I remembered it was yummy. I figured the first dozen was probably mostly air, so if I could flatten them I could finish. Then the second dozen would be the real challenge.

At the time I registered, I was the only girl in that division and I was the favorite to win based on my rankings from previous races on Ultra Signup. I liked that I only had to finish the race to rank as first girl.

A couple of days before the event, another girl signed up. So I was eager to beat her. As race day approached, I slowly grew more and more nervous about this event.

My running buddy Christine (voice of reason) was telling me it was crazy which was the same thing she said about Los Pinos and turned out to be right. She also said we’d throw up, which made me nervous because I can’t remember the last time I threw up. Even when I try to, I can’t. So I decided one of my goals would be to get through this race without throwing up.

Race day morning was rainy and miserable. My favorite uncle Pat Sweeney had come from Los Angeles to try and win the Challenge. He’s a vegan ultra runner and it would be his first time willingly eating dairy. He slept at our place the night before and in the morning we drove over.

It was freezing in the rain, so we stayed in the car until it was time to race. The event was attended by two groups of people: teenagers and ultra runners. A lot of the teens were racing and a lot of the ultra runners were either competing or watching and cheering. I thought it was an odd race to be so well attended by so many endurance athletes. But later I would understand why.

Pat decided to go barefoot, I wore my ninja shoes (Zem 360s), and Shacky wore his Vibrams. In the pre-race speech, they mentioned that the first place girl in each category would get a free running skirt from runningskirts.com. The running skirt twins were there for the race too. So my goal was to beat that other girl in my division to win—without puking. I didn’t know what she looked like or who she was, so I started out fast hoping to get a good lead.

The course was a 1-mile loop that we ran twice before eating. I ran the first 2 miles at seven minutes each, but later found out that we (and many others) had accidentally cut one part of the course. After the first 2 miles, I ran into the “aid” station and picked up my box of doughnuts. There was corral set up on the side full of people already eating. I opened my doughnut box and immediately knew this was going to be tougher than I thought.

I instantly felt sick at the smell and sight. It was like on The Biggest Loser where they display all the junk food that a person has been eating and instead of looking appetizing, it looks disgusting. That’s what these doughnuts were like. They smelled overwhelming, heavy, and revolting.

In the research I had done at home (that’s right, I researched this), I found out that there were two common techniques for eating a dozen doughnuts. One was to flatten them and eat them like pancakes, three or four stacked on top of each other at a time. The other technique was to roll them into balls and eat them like timbits (American translation = doughnut holes).

I decided that I really needed these to NOT look like doughnuts. So I mushed them in my hand and made balls. Then I started eating. I was still in competitive mode, so my heart rate was elevated and I was trying to eat fast when I should have just slowed down and taken my time. It was stressful and I kept watching to course to see if any girls were finishing their doughnuts before me.

I wasn’t even half way through when the glaze was stuck all down my throat and in my mouth and on my hands. I wanted to drink water, but was warned not to because it would make the doughnuts sit heavier. So I just kept eating.

After a few more bites I couldn’t take the glaze anymore, so I grabbed a water bottle and started washing off some of the dough. The glaze came off, so they were easier to get down. But the result was a disgusting puke-like mush of nastiness in my doughnut box. It was hard to look at, much less eat.

Every time I raised my hand to my mouth, the smell of sugar made my stomach revolt. I slowed down, took a seat, and looked around. Los Pinos survivor Paul Hassett was on the sidelines laughing hysterically at us. His son was also in the corral suffering through his dozen and Paul said we all had the same tortured look.

Carlos was also eating and came over to try and encourage us. He said, “Would you rather be on the Los Pinos hill right now?” I actually had to think hard about it.

Shacky finished his doughnuts and took off, and that’s when I lost hope. I only had about three unrecognizable doughnuts left, but I felt that if I took one more bite, I’d lose it. I swore I never wanted to see another doughnut again as long as I lived, and decided to pull out. Even if I did win the running skirt, I figured I wouldn’t be able to fit into it after two dozen doughnuts.

After I was disqualified, I finished up my last 2 miles and stood around to watch the rest of the finishers. This was hands down the hardest race I’ve ever run after Los Pinos. Total despair and agony in the doughnut corral.

Pat Sweeney finished second place. Carlos also registered for Doughnutman and ended up being one of the 3 finishers in that division. His persistence was inspiring.

There was a new Doughnutman winner this year, followed shortly by last year’s winner. Both were ultra runners. Brian Recore took first place after running 135 miles in the Badwater ultra marathon this summer.

He thought this was harder.

In the end, I gained weight and I didn’t even get my name on the list of finishers. Would I do it again next year?

Yeah, probably.

Many thanks to all who came out to show support and cheer us on! It was so fun to see everyone there and thanks to all who took pictures and video.

Here’s my uncle Patrick’s recap:

Would you ever try this race?  

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