The Krispy Kreme Challenge

I realize most people haven’t heard of the Krispy Kreme Challenge unless you live in central North Carolina like I do. But around these parts, this race is well-known. For the best description, I’m going to quote from the website:

“Participants begin the Challenge at the Memorial Belltower on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Runners then travel 2.5 miles through historic downtown Raleigh to the Krispy Kreme [donut store] located at the intersection of Peace and Person Streets, where they attempt to consume one dozen original glazed doughnuts. The hardest part of the Challenge awaits them as they run 2.5 miles back to the Memorial Belltower.

This is the Krispy Kreme Challenge.

As you can imagine, many college students from NC State University and other local colleges participate in the challenge. That seems fitting but you may be asking why on earth anyone beyond college age would choose to do something so crazy as this? Well, in my case when I finished my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states in 2021, I wanted the following year to be filled with unique and fun races. I got in the lottery to run the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run in Washington, D.C. that April and I was signed up to run my first night race, a 5k, in May. I was always intrigued by the Krispy Kreme Challenge. It certainly fit the bill as a unique race. Fun would be another story. I signed up for the 2022 race but it was cancelled a few weeks prior due to rising COVID cases in the area so I deferred to 2023.

Race packet pickup on Friday, February 3 (from 9 am to 8 pm) would have been quick and easy had there not been a major accident on a road by the campus. Traffic was bottle-necked and didn’t move since the roads around the student union, where packet pickup was, were one-way roads so there literally was no other way to go. When I finally found a parking spot, I went into the huge student union building, which was well-marked with signs for packet pickup, got my bib, then my t-shirt, and was on my way. There was other merchandise for sale but I didn’t buy anything else or stick around since I knew it would be a nightmare getting out of the campus and back home given the current state.

Unfortunately for me, the weather did not cooperate for this year’s race. A rainy cold front moved in on Tuesday and continued all week before the race. From Friday morning through that night, the temperature fell from a high of 47 to a low of 23 degrees. At 8 am when the race started, it was 25 degrees. I know most people in the northern states are perfectly used to running in temperatures below freezing, but in these parts, that’s downright frigid especially for running. Never would I have gone out for a run on my own that morning had it not been for the race.

I had on wool thermal underwear (top and bottoms), a pullover, a fleece jacket, double-lined pants, two pairs of socks with a pair of wool socks on top, two pairs of gloves and hand warmers under the first pair, oh and two hats and a buff around my neck. All that and I was still cold. My feet were especially cold and I couldn’t feel them for most of the race. Many people wore costumes and the smart ones wore onesies or other warm gear. One of my favorites was a group running together dressed as bumble bees and one person wore a beekeeper outfit. I saw four guys wearing only their underwear- CRAZY!

The race started promptly at 8:00 and we ran the 2.5 miles from campus to the Krispy Kreme store in downtown Raleigh. It was a mix of downhill parts with some rolling hills but nothing too challenging. Since it was so cold and I don’t do well in the cold since it hurts my lungs, I took it easy and didn’t push too hard. I didn’t want to cause an asthma attack (I don’t have asthma but had cold-induced asthma as a child and had one near-asthma attack a few years ago when it was super cold out and I was on vacation in the mountains).

My plan was to run by feel so I didn’t look at my split times on my watch. I wanted to get to the Krispy Kreme in 22 minutes or less and I believe it was around 21 minutes. Since my watch died sometime during the race, I don’t know what my split times were exactly, especially for the last half of the race because that’s when my watch suddenly went black. My teenage daughter who said she had zero interest in running this race (smart girl) agreed to be my emotional support and photographer so after she snapped a quick photo of me at the start, she ran to the Krispy Kreme and waited for me.

A mouthful of donuts! This was when I was almost halfway through eating all 12 of them!

When I got to the Krispy Kreme store, it seemed like pure chaos but upon further examination, it was more like controlled chaos. There were stacks and stacks of boxes of donuts and volunteers handing them out to runners. Some runners were sitting on the curb or on the ground eating their donuts, but I thought if I sat down I might not ever want to get up, especially after eating a dozen donuts so I chose to stand and in fact, I walked around a bit to try to find my daughter. Luckily she was wearing a red shirt that stood out so I found her within a few minutes.

My hope was to finish all 12 donuts in around 10 minutes but that didn’t happen. Even with my method of squashing a donut in my gloved hands (I had washed them the night before), folding it in half, and in half again so it was quartered, then shoving that into my mouth and chewing as fast as I could, it took some time to get the donuts down. They were supposed to have water by the store but I didn’t see it so I asked my daughter to try to find it for me. Within a couple of minutes she came back with a bottle of water, saying it was hard to find and she had to ask a few people where it was.

The water really was the key to getting the donuts down. After my flattened and quartered donut was shoved in my mouth, I would take a sip of water, just enough to get it to be more easily swallowed, and that seemed to help. I heard many people around me saying there was no way they could finish all 12 donuts but I was determined. I kept shoveling them in and finally around 20’ish minutes after arriving at the Krispy Kreme store, I had eaten all 12 and was ready (maybe?) to run the 2.5 miles back to the finish line. Honestly, it took sheer mental strength to finish those last 3 or 4 donuts and I kept saying to my daughter how hard it was. She kept saying I could do it and giving me other words of encouragement, all the while shivering in the cold (she’s the best!).

Finishing all 12 donuts by yourself was on the honor code, since it’s not like there were enough volunteers to watch each and every runner finish all of their donuts. They did have two different chutes by the store, one for runners who had finished their donuts (you showed them your empty box and tossed it to the side), and one for runners who had not finished all of their donuts. At first it was all I could do just to walk but since it was so cold I just wanted to be done, I started a slow jog to the finish.

Never had I been so happy to see the finish line in sight and I finished in 1:07:54, which turned out to be fourth in my age group. Although there were ten people that started in my age group, only five of us completed the challenge, meaning we ate all 12 donuts and ran back to the finish line. According to the results online, my “donut split” time was 42 minutes, so that means it took me almost 26 minutes minutes to complete the final 2.5 miles, which is a 10-something minute mile, not too bad given I had just eaten 12 donuts!

When I checked the results on race day, I could see the number of Challenger participants who had signed up versus those that actually ate all 12 donuts and finished on the results page but that has since been revised so it only shows finishers in the Challenger group. I believe it was around 300 people from all age groups who did not complete the challenge, however. By the way, the top male Challenger finish time was 33:15, which is a 6:38 pace. That means this guy managed that blazing fast overall pace including stopping to eat a dozen donuts, because after all, the clock doesn’t stop while you’re eating. Incredible! The first woman finished just under 40 minutes, which is still amazingly fast especially considering she ate a dozen donuts.

I should note there were two options for the race, Challenger, which means you try to eat all 12 donuts, and Non-Challenger (aka Casual, which was on their bibs), which means you could eat as many or as few donuts as you wanted. According to the current results, there were 2878 Non-Challengers registered with 2277 finishers from that group and 1066 Challengers registered with 1066 finishers from that group. That seems confusing and backwards to me unless perhaps there were Challengers that were moved to the Non-Challenger Group during the race (meaning people who didn’t finish all 12 donuts) but regardless, there were a whole lot of people who did not technically “finish” the race, a much higher percentage than you would see for a “regular” 5 mile race. There were also Challenger Teams and Non-Challenger Teams.

So happy to be done! One quick photo by the belltower after the race before we took off!

At the finish, I saw no water, no bananas, honestly, not a single thing to eat or drink, but then again, I’m not sure who would want anything to eat after eating a bunch of donuts and running afterwards. Still, water would have been nice. Well, maybe. My stomach was seriously upset, and although I never threw up, my daughter said she saw all kinds of people throwing up while she was waiting on me at the Krispy Kreme. There could have been water at the finish and I just didn’t see it because I didn’t feel like walking around trying to find it. Once we checked my results online and saw I was fourth in my age group, we left. Medals were extra and I hadn’t bought one so I didn’t get a medal either.

As soon as I got home, I took a nap. The rest of the day I felt absolutely terrible. My stomach was so full and bloated and I kept burping up the taste of donuts. I didn’t even want to drink water but I forced myself to drink hot peppermint tea. Lunch was out of the question and I thought I might not even eat dinner but by around 5:30 I started to have a bit of an appetite again so I had a small salad and some salmon (I felt like I definitely needed something healthy after consuming 2400 calories in donuts). This was by far the worst I had felt after any race, including the marathon.

Now that a couple of days have passed and I’m looking back, I ask myself, “Was it fun? Would you do it again? Would you recommend this race?” My answers are, “Yes, the beginning of the race was fun, but it would have been much more enjoyable if the weather had been warmer. One of the best parts was seeing the costumes and everyone’s high energy and excitement at the beginning of the race. The race was well-organized for the most part,” “I would absolutely not want to do this again, even as a Non-Challenger. This is a one and done race for me,” and “I would recommend this race if you’re curious about what the experience of running 2.5 miles then eating a dozen donuts then running 2.5 miles back is like, because it most certainly is a unique experience and of course it’s for a great cause, UNC Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill, so it’s worth doing for that reason.”

Have you ever heard of the Krispy Kreme Challenge or a race like this one where you have to eat something in the middle of the race? Would you ever run a race like this? Do you think I’m crazy for running it and eating all 12 donuts?

Happy running!


Hawaii, “The Big Island,” Third Time’s a Charm While Discovering Waimea

Even though I had been to the Hawaiian island of Hawaii two other times, with this being my third time, I didn’t feel like I truly explored the island until this time. Let’s get to the name first, though. The island of Hawaii is also called The Big Island because the official name Hawaii can be a bit confusing since all of the Hawaiian islands are collectively called Hawaii. As you may guess from its nickname The Big Island, it is also the biggest of the Hawaiian islands, of which also includes Maui, Kauai, Oahu, Lanai, Molokai, Niihau, and Kahoolawe.

Even though I had been to the Big Island twice before, I had spent most of my time in the area called Kona. I would even sometimes refer to the Big Island simply as “Kona” when I would talk about it. What a mistake that is because the Big Island is so much more than just Kona! For my third time, I wanted to branch out and see more of the island. There are four major areas (although technically there are more, I’m simplifying here) of the Big Island: Waimea in the north, Kona in the west, Hilo in the northeast, and Volcano and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in the southeast.

This time I stayed in Waimea and found it to be much less touristy and more quiet than the Kona area but still with plenty to do in the area and within a reasonable drive of other parts of the island. The farthest I had to drive in a day was two hours to get to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and since I went all the way to the bottom of the park where it meets the ocean, it was two and a half hours to get back. Hilo was an hour or less away, depending on what part I went to and Kona was around thirty to forty-five minutes away.

Waimea is also known as “Cowboy country” with the Hawaiian word for cowboys being “paniolos,” which goes back to 1793 when five cattle were given to Kamehameha the Great. Now there are two major ranches, Kahua Ranch and Parker Ranch, where you can arrange horseback rides and watch rodeos. I had no interest in either so I can’t say what they’re like but I did enjoy the beauty of the area. It’s not as hot and dry as Kona nor as cloudy and rainy as in Hilo so the weather was perfect every day as well with highs around the upper 70’s and lows in the low 60’s. This isn’t seasonal weather but is typical year-round.

The Ala Kahakai Trail

Where to Stay, Things to Do

There are two airports on the Big Island, one in Kona and one in Hilo. The one in Kona is about a 30 minute drive to Waikoloa Village (the one in Hilo is over an hour away so unless it’s a lot cheaper, you don’t want to fly into that airport), and Waikoloa is where most of the hotels, shops, restaurants, and golf courses are in Waimea. For “just” $900/night, I could have stayed in the fancy schmancy Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. Or even better, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel for a “mere” $1300/night. I walked by both hotels while I was hiking the Ala Kahakai Trail, which I do recommend as it has stunning ocean views and I can attest both hotels are luxurious massive places to stay right on the beach. There are more affordable hotels and Airbnb properties in Waimea, although you likely won’t be right on the beach for anything less than $500/night. No worries, though, there are plenty of beaches within a short drive of more affordable accommodations.

There are so many things to do on the Big Island I couldn’t possibly cover it all here. I’m going to start with things to do in Waimea and work on other posts with things to do in the other areas of Hawaii. I already mentioned the ranches and golf courses in Waimea. I’m not a golfer but I walked, ran, or hiked by several golf courses during the course of my stay and the views from some of those holes were incredible! As you might imagine, Mauna Kea and Hapuna golf courses look like the most beautiful and are the highest rated if you do a search. There are about 15 golf courses in the area so you’ve got plenty to choose from.

Some of the best beaches in Waimea include Hapuna Beach, Waialea Bay Beach, Samuel M. Spencer Beach Park, Kauna’oa Beach (also known as Mauna Kea Beach, behind the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel), Kapa’a Beach Park, and Anaeho’omalu Beach. Many of these beaches are rocky and/or sometimes have riptides and strong currents or big waves, so be aware. You should heed any red flags that are on a beach, as they mean danger, usually due to strong currents but sometimes for other reasons. Even though I saw red flags at some of the beaches I visited, there were still people swimming in the water, but not me! Some of these beaches have wonderful shade provided by trees so they’re nice and relaxing to sit and listen to the waves with a good book.

One of my favorite trails in Waimea is the Ala Kahakai Trail, as mentioned earlier. It’s a well-marked trail that winds along the coast but has some spots that are a bit steep and rocky so I recommend wearing hiking shoes. Also wear sunscreen and bring water because much of it is exposed to the sun. This trail is 175 miles long but it’s easy to just walk bits and pieces of it. The Puako Petroglyph Park is an interesting place to see many petroglyphs and is a short hike. Kalahuipua’a Historic Park was also one of my favorite walking paths because it goes past some fish ponds full of colorful fish and eels and there are tons of birds flying around and singing; it’s a paved easy trail.

The Kalahuipua’a Historic Park was incredible! Such a gem!

A must-see site is the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site. This is where many Hawaiians consider to be their capital, according to the film shown at the site, since it has major significance to the local people. Here, the story of King Kamehameha and his first cousin, Keoua Ku’ahu’ula is told. I had heard of Kamehameha before but I had never heard the entire story about how he united all of the Hawaiian islands. You can scan a QR code at the center and listen at your own pace to the history behind the site as you walk along the easy walking path. There’s a temple that’s still in use by some local people, so it’s off-limits to visitors but you can see the outside. At the water by the site, some people have seen sharks and even whales but we saw neither while we were there. No admission is charged but donations are accepted.

Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site

There isn’t much else besides hiking trails and beaches in Waimea. You will find a cluster of restaurants in Waikoloa Village and some galleries and a couple of shops further inland, including Gallery of Great Things, Anna Ranch Heritage Center, and Paniolo Heritage Center. You can also arrange helicopter tours over the Big Island and rent a bike or arrange a bike tour with Big Island Bike Tours and Rentals. One nice thing about the Big Island is it’s biker-friendly because many of the roads have extra-wide shoulders that are designated bike lanes.

Would I recommend staying in Waimea on the Big Island? Absolutely. It’s perfectly situated for some day trips to Hilo, Kona, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and there are plenty of outdoor activities if you want to stay in Waimea. It’s not nearly as crowded or expensive as Kona and is just as beautiful, plus the weather is perfect year-round.

Have you been to the Big Island? If so, have you been to Waimea? If you haven’t been to Hawaii, is it on your list?

Happy travels!


Running Shoe Reviews Are a Waste of Time (Mostly)

I remember several years ago when I subscribed to Runner’s World magazine and I loved when their annual shoe review issue would come out. Excitedly, I would pore over each review, reading each little detail including the shoe weight, sole material, and type of cushioning. I would write down my favorites or tear out the page from the magazine and include why I thought they would work best for me.

Was I a shoe geek? Maybe but since I’ve only ever owned three pairs of running shoes at a time, I never thought I was. I’ve known other runners with 20 or more pairs of running shoes at a time. But then again maybe how many pairs of shoes you own at a time doesn’t make you a shoe geek but just a hoarder (no offense if that’s you!).

I thought it was fun to research my favorites (at least in theory) and look for the best deal. I enjoyed getting to try entirely new running shoes. It worked out pretty well in the beginning but then I started having issues.

For someone who hates photos of other people’s feet, I have a surprisingly large amount of photos with my feet (well, at least they’re not my bare feet)! And that first one got chopped off in the collage!

One example of how trying entirely new shoes turned out poorly for me stands out in my mind. Several years ago, I bought a pair of On running shoes. I had never even heard of the brand On before but they looked cool and had good reviews by Runner’s World so I tried a pair. Not too long after that I also tried a brand-new-to-me pair of running shoes by the company Topo Athletic. I loved both my On running shoes and my Topo running shoes; they were cool-looking, felt good, and they were different from any other brand I had tried before. Different is not always better.

I started to notice my calves were a bit tight after I would go for a run so I began making sure I would stretch and foam roll after every run. The calf tightness got worse and worse and one day on a run I had to stop and stretch my calves a few times before I finally just called it a day and went home, stopping my run early. I thought, “Surely it’s not my shoes that are causing my calf pain. They’re brand new.”

When the pain got so bad it hurt just to walk, let alone run, I started digging deeper to try to figure out what the problem was. At first I thought it was my On shoes but then I realized that both my On shoes and Topo shoes had a low heel-toe drop ratio. The heel-toe drop is the difference in stack height from the heel to the toe box of the shoe. Minimalist shoes have a zero drop, meaning the heel is at the same height as the toe box. Both my On and Topo shoes had a 3 or 4 mm heel-toe drop, meaning the heel was either 3 or 4 mm higher than the toe box (one was 3 and the other was 4, I’m not sure which was which at this point).

Upon even further digging, I determined that my previous running shoes, a pair of Asics had a 10 mm heel-toe drop and in fact all of the shoes I had run in for the last few years had anywhere from an 8 to 10 mm heel-toe drop. I had NEVER had calf or Achilles problems before. I threw both pairs of those shoes in my pile for Goodwill so quickly it was ridiculous and immediately got a pair of new running shoes with a 9 mm heel-toe drop. My calf pain miraculously went away. Lesson learned. I need running shoes with an 8 to 10 mm heel-toe drop.

The real lesson here was that what works for some people does not work for others. Just because a shoe review claims a particular shoe is a “soft, cushiony ride great for long runs and shorter runs as well” or whatever they write may seem appealing doesn’t mean it’s a good shoe for you. I know lots of people rave about HOKA shoes but I personally don’t think they would work for me. They’re at the opposite end of the spectrum from minimalist shoes and are often referred to as “maximalist” shoes due to their ultra-cushioned soles. I need shoes that are neither minimalist nor maximalist but somewhere in the middle.

Now when I see a shoe review, I just look at the one thing that I’ve found matters to me, heel to toe drop. If it’s not in the right range for me, I don’t even bother trying them. Everyone’s different, though. For some people, they can get by with shoes with a much lower heel to toe drop, like 4 or 5 and be fine. The most important factor for someone else might be the toe box and if it’s wide or not. For someone else it could be how wide or narrow the shoe fits overall.

My point is, figure out what matters to you personally in a running shoe. I like to track my shoes on Strava and I still have older shoes listed on there that I can look up the stats from. If you don’t use that app, there are plenty of others where you can track your running shoes like Garmin or you can always go old-school and log your miles and shoe info on a spreadsheet or on paper if you’re really old-school.

There’s nothing wrong with shoe reviews per se, but armed with your own personal needs, you can make much better decisions when buying new running shoes based on these reviews. Doesn’t that sound like a better idea than just randomly choosing a pair of shoes based on how they look? Another great way to buy a new pair of shoes is to go to a local running store and try them on and have a person working there help you figure out if they would work for you or not. I did that with my daughter when she first started running on her high school cross country team and that worked out well.

Do you read running shoe reviews or just skip them entirely thinking they’re a waste of time? How many pairs of running shoes do you currently have? If you have a lot, do you consider yourself a running shoe geek or a hoarder?

Happy running!


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