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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Coach Nicole: Thanks for sharing such a fun experience with us. Who would have thought donut and running can be done at the same time?! I love Krispy Kreme, but I've learned to stay away from it. However, I will totally eat a dozen of donuts for a good cause. Report
I love your attitude! I live near Raleigh and have friends who have run the Challenge. Although I never had any interest in joining the fray, I sure didn't begrudge anyone who did. There is a balance, and learning it is what makes one successful. Congratulations on completing the Krispy Kreme Challenge! Report
What a wonderful post. I think having balance in everything we do is important. Too many time I've tried to approach my healthy life style with a militant force & of course I fail every time. Life is a gift meant to be celebrated. Thanks for the post. Report
It sounded so strange when I first read this bit fun regardless.
LOL Report
I just read about this race in last months Runner's World magazine and it sounds like crazy fun! I'm glad you took the race as what it was meant to be fun and didn't take it too seriously. That is awesome! Report
I think it sounds like SO much fun!! :-) Great job and I'm glad you enjoyed yourself and overcame some objections in your life! Report
Great Blog! Thanks for posting. Report
Thank you, for sharing your experience and the fact that there is a multitude of shades of gray…..I say this because so often I myself get very caught up in the ping pong game of life where I feel that being perfect is the only way to stay safe. So I embrace your enthusiasm and sense of zest to take on this zany challenge and allow it to add some fun to your life! Thank you. Report
Welcome to the wonderful world of college antics! The Krispy Kreme run began with some NCSU students running to the local donut shop from campus and back. As you described, there are lots of tips for eating the donuts (like squishing them before biting). And it is supposed to be FUN. So glad you dared make the trip, sorry for the rain, and come back any time! Raleigh, NC - the City of Oaks. Report
Live life and have Fun! My reaction to the KKC is GO FOR IT! Yes, I would try IT! No, you are not a bad example for eating so many doughnuts. You are a good example for getting out and moving, doing something fun and outside of the box.

Sounds fun to me! I could probably easily eat all 12 donuts at the half-way mark. I am like you, I'm a girl who can hold her food. I always tell people I have a stomach of iron and that you know I am gravely ill when I don't want to eat. It is definitely a curse. :) Way to find good balance! I liked what you said, it isn't about perfection. Sometimes I think we all forget that. Report
Thanks for sharing the experience. Sounds like fun. Report
HOT DONUTS NOW-What a fabulous post-this is my favorite thing about SP-I thought it sounded crazy-read it-absorbed it-took what I needed-fondly remembered being introduced to Krispy Kremes by my skinny sister when I first got out of the Navy-"We are going to split this hot dozen!"she gleeful told me-sure enough they melt in your mouth! Now my mind seems to be hopping to alternatives instead of dumps ; ) Report
Sounds like a light-hearted bit of fun--and I don't see the harm in a controlled binge like that one once in a (great!) while! Report
I like your attitude toward a healthy lifestyle! It's ok to indulge once in a while and have a day off once in a while! A few months ago, I was at a brunch at our church and banked some calories and carbs so I could enjoy a donut. One of the members at our church commented to me that she didn't know that donuts were in my diet. I replied that EVERYTHING is allowed in moderation and as long as I include it in my meal plan. (I am diabetic.) What I really wanted to say is "MYOB do you not see how I've lost 30 lbs?" Good for you for having fun in your life! I certainly have some fun in mine and poopoo the nay sayers! Report
Sounds like a fun day! I could never eat a dozen doughnuts though! Report
This is too cute! I love Krispy Kremes, but if I ate a dozen, I would be soooo sick! Sounds like a lot of fun, though. It's not all serious. Have some fun! Report
Ugh - too much sugar for me but I'm glad you had success. Report
I don't like running and I don't much care for donuts but good for you for getting into the spirit and having some fun! Report
Thanks, Coach Nicole! This is a great blog post!

I run into a lot of the dieting "Holier than thou" on this site. I don't think people MEAN to do it, and if it works for them to really police every single tiny morsel that goes into their mouths... then great, different strokes for different folks! However, when I read their advice on posts and the forums, maybe bragging about never licking spoons when baking or how they skipped their own birthday cake for the past fifteen years... I feel myself starting to freak out. My inner monologue goes something like, "Do I have to be THAT up tight to achieve my fitness goals? Life will be bleak! It will be soulless! I can't do this! I might as well just give up!"

But with sixty pounds at least left to go (I'm currently down 80+ lbs) and a pregnancy to get through... "giving up" isn't an option for me. Food IS to be enjoyed. This isn't "America's" fault. Culturally, everywhere, we break bread together. We prepare special foods for holidays. The big lesson to be learned is that food can be celebrated in moderation. It doesn't have to be black and white. It doesn't have to be complete hedonistic abandon OR complete unbroken control and banishment of everything sinful. THAT was the lesson I, personally, had to learn... because trying it the "up tight" way just led to an unhappy me who fell off the bandwagon after a few weeks. Now I'm nine months healthy living and counting! Report
I like you Nicole, you have spunk, and your honest. It is important to relax, and enjoy life. One can do that and still maintain healthy eating habits. This was your first race for Krispy Cream, and you contributed to a good cause. It's not like you eat donuts every week-end. Good for you! Report
Sounds like a blast!!! Good for you!! Report
Sounds like lots of fun! And thats what it is all about. Don't feel bad about eating those doughnuts, you are nto doing it every day. I am not a doughnut person, so I would end up carrying most and giving them away afterwards......
I take part in our annual Pupcrawl and those drinks are lots of calories and I have fun. After all we do enough serious runs to make up for the overindulgence on this one.
Also if the douhgnut run is for a good cause it is a good reason to do it!

Steph Report
I think if someone is gonna binge, it won't be because they read this blog. And, surprise to some of you, to the average working class person, eating IS one of the last fun things left to do, unless you guys with the snobby noses make it against the law. Nothing worse than a skinny, whiny, hungry person out in public. With almond milk stains on their shirt....... Report
Awesome story about having a healthy relationship with food, sounds like a fun time too! Report
I get what you are trying to say here, but personally I don't think blogging about this was a good idea. Yes, there are many people here who loved the blog and took it with a sense of humor, but there are probably many more who will now use this as an excuse to binge. Having a donut here and there is totally fine but 6? I think it sends the wrong message.

I don't agree with the woman yelling at the runners, that's like the preacher's on the street corners, no one is interested in your opinion. But as a leader in a healthy living community there ARE people who are going to want to do just what you do. And what if this causes someone to binge and derails their progress? Report
Maybe I would do the race but not eat the donuts -- that is one food that I can truly say never sucks me in-- I need a few more like that :-) Report
We don't get Krispy Kreme, in this part of Canada. I don't know if we get these doughnuts at all. I have had one though, and did find if I nuked it, it was much better. I'm not a big doughnut fan, so just as well for me. good blog.

Hahaha...way to keep it real coach Nicole! Too bad that small percentage doesn't see the healthy mental attitude...being too focused on anything isn't healthy, for you or the people around you. Loved the blog! Report
I think you are a great influence. I am more likely to listen to you than someone who makes me feel like a failure if I "cheat" on my eating or exercise. I've always said "anything in moderation" is okay. You just pick up where you left off! Just don't make it a habit running to Krispy Kreme! I like doing the Reggae Run every year and there is about 30 booths of food, drink and goodies at the end of the race! Thanks for being "real". Report
Wow never heard of the Krispy Kreme Challenge and I don't see it in my future. I think it is great that you were able to participate in this run. You demonstrate what one can do when in great health. I applaud you! Report
Oh to be so Young and have the pounds stay off so easy..... I Remember that.....
Give it a few years and you will realize "Crap" those pounds don't melt away so easy any more.... LOL
But once in a while....
Hey you did great... Loved this blog.
I swear I just have to sniff a KK Donut and I put on 10 pounds.... LOL
So they are a rare treat for me anymore.
Thanks for sharing! Report
If I was a runner, I would do it! I think I could eat all 12 donuts with no problem.
Thanks for the reality check -that none of us eats perfectly healthy all the time, nor should we be expected to.
I LOVE donuts.
Martha Report
Great blog Coach Nicole! I love to know that people who are in great shape are still willing to have fun & indulge once in a while. I know some people who have recently lost a lot of weight & are now regular 5K,10K, & 1/2 Marathon participants, & they say the ones that are most fun are the ones that have a beer tent at the finish line! Exercise & a healthy lifestyle isn't always "fun," but if you don't have fun with it once in a while you won't want to continue down that path. Thanks for the post, it made my day! Report
This was a hilarious description of what sounded like an very fun event!
I'm with you, do your best to eat healthy but it is ok to have that occasional "unhealthy" item. Thank you for putting it all in perspective. Report
Would you believe, at 40 yrs. old, I have never in my life eaten a Krispy Kreme Doughnut? Now I want one. Fun Blog Nicole! Report
I love Krispy Kreme doughnuts, but I don't think I could do this race & eat the doughnuts- one or the other for me! It's good that it was for a good cause too! Report
LOL Krispi Kremes are one of the few carb/fat combos that I don't really care for. But I have lots of other vices in that department! LOVED the blog and the reminder not to take ourselves and our diets too seriously. Report
I've had Krispy Kreme doughnuts and they are soooo sweet I don't think I could do a run like this, but I love the idea! I'm finding the more healthy I become, the less I'm able to consume rich and/or sweet foods. There are times I *want* to, but then I feel so sick after, which is probably not a bad thing :)
No, I don't think you're a bad influence, Nicole. If anything, I think you've shown that even the healthiest of people have potentially unhealthy moments, but that is perfectly healthy (does that make sense?) I admire you for getting out there and doing it *and* admitting it to all of us. It's all about accountability, right?
Thanks for sharing; glad you had fun! Report
This is too funny! I love Krispy Creme this is exactly the kind of thing I could see myself doing once I reach my goal weight. For now though i'll stick to more "traditional" races. :) Thanks for sharing what a great blog! Report
I totally agree with you, Nicole! It's all in fun, a little indulgence here and there won't make or break most people, and you've got to enjoy yourself once in a while, or life's dull.

And everyone's different. Some love the sweets and junk food and can eat it anytime, anywhere (that's me! Nothing is "too rich" or sweet for me, either). Some can't stand the stuff - it really does make them sick or they know they'll go overboard and must avoid it altogether. And it's all fine, each person must figure out what works for them. Report
Krispy Kreme Donuts are tooooo sweet for me, but I work all my indulgences into my daily intake on my Nutrition Tracker. One thing I never do is substitute a meal for junk food. Report
I learned that I can't follow any diet for long if it makes me feel deprived. So I structured mine around allowing myself treats when I want them. I love your sense of fun and that you are sharing it with us through your blog. I think if Dunkin Donuts ever sponsored one of these I might have to turn into a race-runner! Report
Never! OMG but for a few reasons. I never really cared for the donuts actually and they are so sweet, they make my teeth rattle! Now being Gluten Free, I can't eat them if I wanted to! Report
Well, it was for a good cause!! Report
That was a great blog post!!! Nicole, you have a great attitude and I commend you for being able to enjoy life and stay healthy!!! Report
I enjoyed this - what a balanced, healthy approach! I think I would do it, though I might only eat one or 2. What fun!!! (a reformed "judgmentalist" myself!) Report
I love your attitude! I think once your past the point of of food being the end all be all to your life, you can do this and laugh about it. Not sure I could eat them but I would get one or two down I'm sure. Thanks for the blog. It was very good. Report
Great blog. I happen to love Krispy Kreme donuts, BUT thankfully we don't have any close to us and I don't care for them unless they are fresh off the "press" so to speak. I get to indulge about once annually-we live in FL and go to MO to visit kids/grandkids and pass a KK shop in AL on our way up and THAT is our breakfast on that one day a year-hubby and I share a dozen-I usually get 4 and he gets the rest or sometimes-some make it to the kids-we have found that we can't handle that sugar/grease overload anymore, but as you say the occasionall indulgence is good. It gives us something to look forward to and we don't do it often enough that it undoes the healthy eating we try to practice most of the time. Report
My reaction when I heard about this race on the news was the same as yours- yuck! But your blog is wonderful! One thing some of my friends don't understand about my Spark journey is that I'm not on a diet. Sure, I've lost weight, but not through deprivation. The most important thing all of us need to learn is to ENJOY LIFE! Thank you, Coach Nicole, for a good laugh- and a good lesson! Report