Confession: I Ran and Ate My Way Through the Krispy Kreme Challenge

By , SparkPeople Blogger
A couple years ago, I saw a news story about the annual Krispy Kreme Challenge held in Raleigh, NC. Runners from across the country show up and pay good money (for a good cause, of course) to run a couple miles, eat a dozen doughnuts, then scurry their way back to the finish line within 60 minutes—without losing their doughnuts, if you know what I mean. I realize that everyone may react differently to the idea behind this race. My initial reaction was more like "Ew! Pure gluttony!" Then I immediately calculated the calories in a dozen doughnuts and no, running 4 miles doesn't even burn off three of them. "Only in America," I thought.

The following year, when I saw news coverage about the Challenge again, something came over me. I suddenly wanted to do this race. Yes, I am an advocate for healthy eating and sensible exercise habits. And yes you're right in thinking that combining competitive running with competitive doughnut eating doesn't net out to "healthy," but you have to admit…it sure sounds fun!

I’m a girl who can eat. I have a healthy appetite and I've always been able to eat a lot of food—there is no food that's ever been "too rich" for me—without feeling sick. (It's a curse.) I was up for the challenge! I signed up as soon as registration opened for the 2011 race, and last weekend, I ran and ate my way through the Krispy Kreme Challenge. Now I'm reporting back from the glaze-filled trenches.

On race day, the weather was dreary: low 40s and pouring down rain. That took a little bit of fun out of the race, but I was still eager. And people came out for the race by the thousands, some donning crazy costumes, and many wearing little to nothing at all (body paint, bikinis, tiny race shorts)!

Runners trying to stay warm and dry before the race

I did not expect to eat all dozen doughnuts. I played it safe. But I did have a realistic goal in mind: 4-6. That's what I thought I could actually eat and still be able to run without losing my doughnuts. You don't have to eat all dozen—only to truly "win" the race. Many people just eat one or two. Some try for all 12. Others just run and carry their box of goodies with them to enjoy later. How did I fare? Here's how it broke down that day:

By the Numbers: My 2011 Krispy Kreme Challenge
6:45 a.m. Wake up call for Saturday's race
8: Average minute-per-mile pace I ran on my way to the Krispy Kreme store
2.3: Miles from the starting line to the Krispy Kreme store
12: Number of doughnuts each runner was given to eat upon arrival
1,140: Number of calories in the 6 doughnuts I ate during the race

Simply the most flattering picture I've ever taken haha!

13: Minutes it took me to down 1,140 calories worth of doughnuts
20: Seconds per mile I slowed down while running with a belly full of doughnuts
6: How many doughnuts I carried with me to the finish line

Ready to eat my 6th doughnut!

4.7: Total miles ran during the race
45:29: My finish time for the race (running plus eating)
29:31: Top finishing time for the race winner (he ate all dozen within that time frame, too!)
0: Number of people I saw losing their doughnuts (this really surprised me)
6: Number of doughnuts I ate after the race was over—no joke! I ate all dozen, just not during the race!
2,280: Total doughnut calories consumed within 3 hours
540: Approximate number of calories burned during 4.7-mile race

Scarfing down six doughnuts was surprisingly easy for me. I had my technique down: I folded each one in half, squeezed out the air, and then ate. I stayed away from the water, fearing water + doughnuts would = one upset (and very full) stomach. I expected to feel nauseous and get cramps in my stomach on the return trip back. I fully expected to run much slower than I started the race, but surprisingly, I maintained a good clip all the way to the finish. I carried my remaining six doughnuts back to the car, back to my hotel, and then enjoyed every last one of them on the trip back to Ohio.

Proof! I carried these remaining 6 to the finish line and ate them later.

During the race, I saw kids, parents, strollers, dogs, costumes, runners of all shapes and sizes, walkers, supporters holding signs (the most popular being "Don't Puke!"). Mostly, I saw a lot of smiles. Everyone was having fun despite the bad weather. We were all there to enjoy the experience and check this crazy race off our bucket lists. Most of us, anyway.

During the first half of the race, a woman was standing by and watching, but she was actually chastising the runners saying (in a not so nice way), "Yeah, how many calories are in just ONE of those doughnuts, runners?!"

I get where she's coming from. One doughnut has 190 trans fats, sugar, carbs, and no real nutritional value. Her reaction was much like my own reaction when I first heard about this crazy race a few years ago. I thought it was disgusting. I thought it was just advocating horrible eating habits and making people believe that it's OK to binge on junk food as long as you do a little exercise.

I guess I've lightened up more over the years, especially as I've learned to accept my imperfections and balance out my healthy habits with my not-so-healthy ones. But to me, the Krispy Kreme Challenge is all in good fun. Healthy living is important. Eating right is important. Exercising is important. But you know what's not important: Being perfect in these areas every single day. We also have to LIVE our lives and enjoy ourselves! Too often, people become way too obsessed with being healthy. In my experience, these "health saints" judge others with a healthier-than-thou attitude, much like the lady who yelled at the runners from the sidelines. I don't feel sorry for anyone who joined this race; I feel sorry for her for being too obsessed with health and afraid of calories to join in on the fun herself. And I can say that, because I know what it's like to be that way—I've been there myself, and since I've overcome it, my life is so much fuller and happier.

No one is perfect. Sometimes I eat ice cream for dinner. Sometimes I skip my workouts. Sometimes I choose junk food over health food. (I love broccoli but I don't want to live without the occasional Twizzler.) But a truly healthy lifestyle—if it's truly sustainable—includes rest days, lazy days, indulgences, birthday cake and the occasional doughnut run. One day and one dozen doughnuts aren't going to make or break my fitness habits, my weight, my diet, or my health in the long run—and it's not going to for you either. And you know what: I would do it again in a heartbeat!

For your viewing pleasure, here's a fun video about the Krispy Kreme Challenge from a couple of years ago:

What's your reaction to the Krispy Kreme Challenge? Would you ever try it? Do you think I'm a bad example for eating so many doughnuts?

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I'm not a runner, so this is no temptation for me, but my local grocer carries Krispy Kreme doughnuts. But my taste buds say the doughnuts are really wonderful only the first two days, so not a purchase temptation - the grocer sells only boxes of 6 & 12. Report
JUSTJ2014 4/18/2021
I just love Nicole's perspective. Report
I love them, so I don't buy them because I would eat them all. Report
We buy them to give away. We don’t eat them ourselves but others love them. Report
My first thought also was "oh yuck". Thanks for a fun and well written blog. I'm glad I don't live too close to a Krispy Kreme store! Report
For years, groups brought up cases from Seattle to sell on roadsides to fund their folks. These quick sales were not always advertised ahead of time. No need, as they were assured of a sell-out simply by word of mouth. Mind, these were cold and often day-old, and we have several great bakeries here. Such was the love of Krispie Kreme. The only store in the state is now open. Report
OMG- I will swerve across three lanes of traffic if the Hot Donuts Now sign is lit up. Will have to put this race on my bucket list. Report
Oh how I laugh at this it was so much fun to read

Nicole, thank you for sharing. Excellent blog post. I like your comment, I do not have to be perfect in all the areas of my life all the time (summarized in my words). I need to learn to apply and practice this. Report
What a fun experience, and thank you for sharing it. Everything comes at a cost, and it is so important to find that sweet spot where we balance our health with a price we are willing to pay in order to achieve it. Thank you for the reminder that we are in this to live abundantly and joyfully! Report
I have never attempted to run a race (not yet) but sometimes when picking up my son, there is a Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop in the shopping center.
I tell myself, 'no you don't need the calories, no you don't need the sugar or fat'
Then my son jumps and in asks the dreaded question - Can we please go get a doughnut.
Long story short - I end up being right behind him getting at least 2. :o)
No more of that. I chew gum now if I get that desire. Report
I love you and thanks for the 28 day boot camp. I just love it. I think you did a great thing with this challenge, Spark on, my friend. Report
Coach Nicole, what great fun you had! Thank you for sharing it with us.
Let me just say - if you do your own workouts that I have been doing, you can eat all the donuts you want! Your routines are fantastic. Thanks for your inspiration and knowledge, you are helping many, many of us reach our goals.
Thanks again for kicking my behind on a regular basis!!! Spark On! Report
Loved reading about your race. Have heard about this run for several years and it intrigues me. Maybe one of these days..... Thanks again for your report! Report
This blog made me smile :-) What a great attitude you have! Fun is important!

This isn't a challenge that I would undertake as the thought of eating donuts (which causes me to experience a huge 'sugar crash' in no time) and running just don't mix to me. Donuts and sleeping off my crash mix well, but of course doesn't make me feel very good. The whole thing reminds me of drinking on a boat in the afternoon hot sun. Two good things that don't mix!

Love the message behind this blog, though! Thanks! Report
Personally I don't really enjoy doughnuts or running, so this is not for me :-) However I do enjoy cake and zumba, perhaps someone can combine those two! More seriously, I agree with the principle behind Coach Nicole's post but I'm not sure I would find this fun because I think 12 doughnuts would make me feel a bit sick. Each to their own! Report
Love it! Sounds like you ENJOY life. You really are a natural beauty. I especially like the pic of you with the donut in your mouth. :) Report
I don't run, but I do like the idea of mapping out about a dozen or so Krispy Kreme and/or other doughnut establishments and then *driving* from one to the next, ingesting about six doughnuts at each stop. Yes...I think I could very much get into a day spent like that ;) Report
that was hilarious . I have to admit that's the one thing i am battling right now,is not try to be to anal about my diet and exercise. I know their going to be days,mornings that i might want that donut or chocolate chip pancake.i know that this is for the long haul. Report
Awesome. Love krispy kremes and used to have one once in awhile.
Great article. Some would not try. Me, wouldn't at this time not because of the donuts but I'm not a runner.... yet. Perhaps a new goal of mine. :) Totally agree with AGILLASPIE60. Report
OMG!!! I love running and I love doughnuts!! I think I will try to run this race next year!!! Report
I don't like Krispy kreme donuts but if it is for a good cause I might have considered it if I lived closer :) Report
Okay, I know why you couldn't eat all 12.

They weren't HOT DONUTS NOW.

WHen they're hot and fresh off the line? You can eat them in one BITE. Nummy.

You know, I have a friend who comes from England and has to get Krispy Kremes every year? She says they don't have anything like them in Cornwall.

Congrats on your race, and just plain having FUN. Report
I think I would probably do it, expect i dont think i can run 4 miles yet! lol....still working on 2 Report
I think this does sound like a Blast! (minus the cold part)

I personally wouldnt be able to do anything like it for a while as I am still learning and changing my lifestyle. If I had been at this longer and had a full handle on things I would definitly allow myself the reward. "Everything in moderation" and "eat less, move more" are what keep me going. is why I will succeed.

but more importantly while maintaining a healthy lifestyle you need to maintain a healthy balance- rewarding yourself helps you stay motivated in your healthier a box of donuts...or if you're like me get some steak!

For most people, eating a box of donuts while dieting would invoke extreme guilt and frustration. If you are living a healthy lifestyle and consuming the correct foods on a regular basis, then there is nothing wrong with treating yourself once in a while. Report
It sounds fun! I'm a doughnut lover (yummy!), but I don't think I could run after eating even 6 of them. If i'm ever there i'll try though!
I love it! I've run many races where things like beer, huge muffins, even BBQ is waiting for the runners at the finish line. These races are meant to have a relaxed, party atmosphere for folks who love to combine fitness and fun. Throw charity into the mix and it's even better! Report
Wow that sounds so cool!! Doubt that I could (or maybe would) eat a dozen donuts in one sitting, but it would still be fun to do. You find the neatest races!! Such an inspiration. Hey - at least you keep your butt moving!! Good job. Report
Hats off to you Nicole for playing "both sides of the fence"--previously and now. You are such a balanced lady with LOTS of variety. I love your spunk and your down-to-earth view of this LIFESTYLE! -- The things you wrote are where I've been heading in my head as I experience birthdays, graduations, weddings, and the many other joyous occasions in life. Is it something to do every day of the week/month? NO! But it IS a part of life and must be worked with in balance to really LIVE.

Way to go!
...(And no, I wouldn't have done the race because I just don't have that "crazy" streak in me. Maybe when I was in my 20's it would have been a hoot!!?) Report
I LOVE donuts. I don't know if I could eat a dozen and still finish a race, but it sure sounds like fun!! Report
Gross. I ate a donut yesterday. One. Three images come to mind:
- an autopsy on a man in his thirties (murdered) who's coronary arteries were so gunked up, it squeezed out like toothpaste.
- How the body can't process trans-fats; I envision them as poison and avoid them as such. Some people are lobbying to have them made illegal.
- I ate six donuts twice in college. It gave me the worst, hot gas. My boyfriend's roommate came home & thought someone had s**t in there (had a BM).

I'll pass. Did SP get paid by KK to run this story? Report
Never saw this event before, was just trolling the boards for company lol. Looks fun, see nothing wrong with it in the context of attitude you present. I would have eaten one or two and after reaching the end probably would have taken the box home and tossed it as sadly KK is just not a healthy donut, but I like donuts. :) Report
Very interesting. I have never heard of anything like this before. Report

I am not a runner but that would make me run!!! Maybe we will see you in 2012! Report
Sounds like it was a lot of fun! Glad you didn't loose your donuts! :) Report
Running is the one thing I hate to do and don't do. Who knew you could do it while having donuts - I just may have given running a chance :) Report
Nicole, Thanks for such a fun and honest blog post! And you are so right, it's easy to become a healthy living zealot! Report
An even better event would be to make the runners run far enough to burn off however many calories they ate-- you could really attract the marathoners! It would be educational, but probably injurious! The winner of that race seemed pretty fat-less; he looks like he logs tons of miles per week. Report
Good for you. Everybody needs a day off. It's like having a rainy day to really appreciate the sunny ones. Unfortunately since I have stopped eating doughnuts every weekend I usually find one too sweet. Report
sounds like you had a lot of fun, and I hope all the other runners had a blast too. this sounds like something I could definitely give a try! Report
Great Blog! It reminded me not to take health so seriously all the time. It looked like fun! Report
This has to be one the best blogs I have read since being a member of SparkPeople. I love the occasional donut and I love running, so this race is a great addition to my "bucket list." Thanks so much! Report
"Healthier-than-thou attitude" - LOL! Thanks for this fun blog. BTW, I'm not perfect either. Report
"Healthier-than-thou attitude" - LOL! Thanks for this fun blog. BTW, I'm not perfect either. Report
Thank you SOO much for this blog! I've been beating myself up over a Bud light and peanuts at the baseball game yesterday. This balanced view was truly what the Dr. ordered! Report
Love the doughnut race story! Keep up the running! Report
Great blog! Thanks for sharing. Report
Sounds like a great time! Wonder if they'll ever have one in Ohio??? I'm sure I could talk my daughters into running that race with me! Report
I heard about the race a year ago when my bf mentioned it to me. The kicker for was that I am from the area and the school (NC State) rivals my school (UNC-Chapel Hill) in sport. So, naturally, I quipped about how it just a Wolfpack student thing. I was also disgusted by the eating of doughnuts in a run b/c I didn't think it was healthy thing to do while running (and while not running), even though it was for a cause. (A cause is as far as I knew). I think my reaction was due to the fact that I am not a big fan of doughnuts. I'll eat them sparingly, but I can easily bypass them as I rather have cake and/or muffins over doughnuts. Reading your blog and watching the video actually gave me a better perspective of what they are doing. Plus, I learned that the runners don't have to eat all or any of the doughnuts, which is something I can handle if for some crazy reason I was ever in that race. I was also surprised no one got sick in your race and in the video's race a few did. I guess it depends on the people and how they handle eating them. Though I will never condone eating doughnuts (as I believe there are other things that you can eat with the same texture but more flavor and less calories) and the runners won't burn the doughnuts in a four mile run, if they are not eating doughnuts everyday and some are avid runners, then one day of that indulgence should hurt them. Plus, I'm all for putting North Carolina on the map for a good cause. (I heard about this year's race all the way in TX! Yay!) Report
can't fix stupid!!! Report