Thousands of people pounded the pavement between N.C. State University and Krispy Kreme on Saturday trying to run 5 miles and choke down a dozen doughnuts in less than an hour.
The Krispy Kreme Challenge, which is in its 13th year, dares runners to trek 2.5 miles to the Krispy Kreme store on North Person Street from the Memorial Belltower on N.C. State’s campus, eat a dozen doughnuts and run back. On Saturday temperatures hovered near 30 when the race began.
Eating roughly 2,400 calories worth of glazed confections and keeping them down has proved troublesome for some runners, but people come back every year for more — some wearing doughnut-themed attire, carrying props and in a variety of costumes.
Four-time racer Owais Patel was undeterred by the cold and ran shirtless, wearing a leather wrestling mask. Patel said he has completed marathons but liked running this race because it’s a good time.
“There’s so many people and costumes,” he said. “This is just for fun just to be with your friends.”
The top finishing male and female runner in this year’s challenge were 29-year-old Nick Oltman from Arlington, Va., and Caroline Armstrong, 18, of Durham, according to race results.
Oltman completed the challenge in 30 minutes and 15 seconds, and Armstrong crossed the finish line in 35 minutes and 6 seconds.
About 7,000 people participated, said Maggie DeWeese, a race director. She said the number was about 100 higher than last year.
The event raises money for the UNC Children’s Hospital and is the hospital’s largest single source of unrestricted donations, which the hospital can use any way it chooses. By 2016, the event had generated $1.1 million for the hospital.
Runners arriving at the Krispy Kreme were greeted by the smell of doughnuts being fried at the shop to replace the thousands in white-and-green boxes being consumed by people sitting on the ground near the shop.
After being handed a box, Brii Keegan crushed her doughnuts into two stacks of six to make the biggest sandwiches she could.
“It’s the only way to do it,” she said. “It’s not going down any other way.”
Keegan, a Crossfit coach in New Jersey near Philadelphia area, said she and her husband drove down Friday to participate in Saturday’s race.
The couple found the race after searching for a run that involved doughnuts, and they have made it an annual event.
“We’re a little obsessed with doughnuts,” she said.
Husband Jimmy Keegan of Cherry Hill, N.J., finished his stack and took a few sips of water as he waited for his wife to finish hers.
There’s a secret to consuming doughnuts extremely fast, he said. “Get all 12 down before your brain can figure out how full you are.”