DURHAM — Mac-and-cheese with crab and bacon and a fried egg on top might make a nice breakfast -- unless you have to eat quickly, then run two miles and swim a lap around a pool.
That dish, called Diablo del Mar, was the first step Saturday of the 2009 Doughman competition, a team-relay quadrathlon combining competitive eating with a traditional triathlon. The food and physical exertion tested the competitors, who risked a time penalty and the indignity of cleaning up after themselves if the food proved hard to keep down.
"I'm a little bit nauseous," said Jessica Phipps, 25, of Durham, exhausted after completing the first leg. "I didn't think I would be until they put the food in front of us. It was delicious if I hadn't had to wolf it down."
More people than ever are willing to put their bodies and stomachs on the line in Durham's version of Raleigh's Krispy Kreme race. Krispy Kreme Challenge entrants run four miles and consume a dozen doughnuts; Doughman has teams of four eating and running, swimming or biking.
Highlighting food from several Durham establishments, this year's competition drew 50 teams, up from 14 last year. Pae Wu, an organizer, said the surge in interest will raise at least $10,000 this year to benefit SEEDS, a program that lets inner-city kids grow food to sell at the Durham Farmers Market.
Eating star shows up
This year's event included some celebrity appeal: a team that included Adam Richman, the star of The Travel Channel's "Man v. Food" show. Richman's team, which finished 19th, was targeted by several other squads.
"We finished ahead of the 'Man v. Food' Team," said James Beck, 31, a postdoctoral student at Duke University and member of "The Donner Party," the team that came in 18th. "It wouldn't have mattered if we were 50th as long as were ahead of them."
Beating the TV team was also a goal of a squad that had "Durhamites v. Man. v. Food" on the backs of their T-shirts. Alas, the team finished 32nd, well behind the "Man v. Food" squad.
"We had a blast," said Joey Zielazinski, 33, who works at Carrboro Elementary School's library. "But they got the best of us."
The competition was heavily male-dominated, with four Duke biological science students making up one of the few all-female teams. Their squad, HEATing It Up, finished 30th, well ahead of some all-male teams,
"I'm small, but I eat a lot," said team member Kristin Maloney, 28, a 5-foot graduate student.
The battle for first this year came down to a frantic sprint, with 6 seconds separating the top two teams.
A key to the first-place finish by the "The Not-So Fantastic Four" was team member Patrick Badolato's ability to keep it together while running 2.3 miles after quickly consuming a loaded quarter-pound burger and hot dog.
"This is what I do all the time - eat and run," said Badolato, 28, a graduate student at Duke.
Badolato's team finished just ahead of Team Dain, which was trying to defend its 2008 title. But Dain Phelan, 30, a member of Team Dain and owner of Dain's Place restaurant, kept it in perspective.
"What's important is it's benefitting the community," he said.
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