Will Run For Doughnuts, Pizza, and Cinnamon Buns

Heart health
April 12, 2017

Want to stuff your face and get fit for a good cause? Read on to find out more about the wild world of food and fitness charity events.

Once in a while, I imagine an alternate universe where I can eat a dozen doughnuts and still be able to button my pants, but I was absolutely shocked to discover that 8,0000 people are actually living this fantasy. But of course, there’s a catch — you also have to run five miles. These are the unusual requirements of the Krispy Kreme Challenge, a charity event hosted for the last 12 years by North Carolina State University. With all proceeds going to the UNC Children’s hospital, the event challenges you to run 2.5 miles from the Memorial Bell Tower on the campus of North Carolina State University, to the Krispy Kreme in downtown Raleigh. There, you consume one dozen original glazed doughnuts and then sprint 2.5 miles back to the Memorial Bell Tower.

What started as a dare among North Carolina college coeds has become a nationally known charity race. But in a recent New York Times article by Jen A. Miller, I learned that this is just one of many charity runs that pairs a test of physical fitness with a feat of “gastrointestinal fortitude.”

The article explains that in addition to the North Carolina Krispy Kreme Challenge, you can also find charity donut dashes in Indianapolis, Sacramento, and Duluth. And just a note—while eating such large amounts of junk food is most certainly not healthy, doing it for a good cause, along with getting your blood pumping, makes it an acceptable once-in-a-while activity in our eyes!

In case you’re uninspired by circles of sugary fried dough, there are other sweet treat eat-and-run challenges. The Brain Freezer 5K Challenge in Burlington, VT challenges competitors to eat a full pint of ice cream at the race halfway point, while the COBS Cinnamon Bun Run in Alberta, Canada requires that runners stop twice to chow down on cinnamon buns during an 8 mile run. New York City offers a Cupcake Run 5K, during which you must consume three cupcakes.

For those who prefer savory to sweet, there are still plenty of opportunities out there to raise charity money while simultaneously eating mounds of junk food. At the Bacon 5K Challenge in Allentown, PA, competitors eat a half-pound of bacon at the halfway point and then celebrate at the finish with chocolate-covered bacon. New York City folks can put their legs and stomachs on trial with the New York City Pizza Run, consuming three slices of pizza in 2 miles.

The nonprofit Blue Mountain Wildlife in Hamburg, PA sponsors a Dine & Dash Burgers & Trail Race where runners eat a burger, run a mile, eat another burger, then run another mile. “We have some people out there who really give it their all and run very fast two-mile times, considering the burgers,” says Gregg Adams, the event’s race director. Wilmington, Delaware can boast the first Mac & Cheesesteak 5K during which runners must finish their race by gorging on a cheese steak stuffed with mac and cheese.


The whole “eat and run for charity” craze even offers something for those with more elegant appetites. Wine lovers can enjoy six wine tastings per lap at the Surrey Bacchus Marathon in England, while real foodies can devour wine, cheese, oysters, steak, ham, and ice cream at the Marathon du Medoc, north of Bordeaux in France.

Runner’s World recommends a three to four hour wait after eating before running, but if you love to run, and you love to eat rich foods at top speeds, then you might have a taste for this new charity race trend. I confess that I love my inner organs too much to try, but I stand in awe of those who go for it. I will continue my search for a portal leading to that universe where I can eat doughnuts for days without putting on a pound.