Phil Cook isn’t much of a breakfast eater. He’s not much for sugar either.
So, when his buddy Jeremy Sanders convinced him to come to Raleigh at dawn on Saturday, run five miles and eat a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Cook had one word for it: challenge.
“This is gonna be tough, a little grosser than I thought,” said Cook, who teaches high school in South Carolina.
Cook and Sanders were among thousands of runners who joined the 12th annual Krispy Kreme Challenge. The race is one part exercise and 12 parts gluttony. From start to finish, it’s a spectacle.
After leaving the Bell Tower, 2.5 miles away at N.C. State’s campus, the first runners began racing through a maze of tables stacked high with boxes of doughnuts at about 8:40 a.m. They came wearing spandex Iron Man costumes and Superman shirts. One racer wore pajamas decorated with Big Mac burgers; another runner dressed as a banana. One man ran the course backwards. Another wore nothing but his briefs.
Bridgette Sullivan and Grant Hall of Cary are runners; high school track stars in fact. They also like a good doughnut now and again. The thought of combining the two seemed a no-brainer. Sullivan, a senior at Panther Creek High School in Cary, decided to up the ante by wearing a inner tube around her midsection; she decorated it with pink icing and sprinkles.
“It’s like ‘Why not?’ ” Hall, a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said. “Running is fun, and doughnuts are good.”
For most of the participants, running was the easy part. The first 2.5 miles at least. To truly complete the challenge, racers must run 2.5 miles to the Krispy Kreme at the intersection of Person and Peace streets, eat a dozen doughnuts, then run 2.5 more miles to the finish line. Keeping the doughnuts down on the return is the real test.
Graham Carter, 16, of Holly Springs, had his doubts about being able to avoid vomiting. Three years ago, he managed to complete the challenge without getting sick. As he stared at his dozen Saturday morning, he shook his head.
“There’s a good chance these won’t stay down,” Carter said. He did come prepared though. Carter stuffed several doughnuts into a Ziploc bag he brought and stomped on them to try to make them smaller.
It’s like a doughnut smoothie.
Almost every runner had a strategy. Dunking a fist full of glazed goodness into a cup of water was a popular approach. Mashing a stack of three so hard that the glaze cracked away was another.
Cook tried another plan. He dumped a bottle of water into his box and massaged the doughnuts into a soup.
“It’s like a doughnut smoothie,” he said.
The mixture was so unappetizing, his friend Justin Page of Durham couldn’t watch. Page turned his back to his friend and slowly and methodically attacked his box, one bite at a time. And, while Page wasn’t looking, runner Demi Martin of Fayetteville snuck one of her doughnuts into Page’s box. Guilt overtook her, though, and she grabbed it back.
“Man, you got to pay attention. I was trying to cheat. I almost made you eat one of my doughnuts,” Martin told Page.
“Well, 12 doughnuts. What’s one more?” he said.
Locke: 919-829-8927 or @MandyLockeNews