Everyone in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, knows when fresh donuts are being made. A giant "Hot Now" sign lights up at the local Krispy Kreme, the air outside literally smells of sugar, and it takes a heap of willpower not to drop everything you're doing and run right over. However, on one day each year for the last 10 years, it has become a remarkably socially acceptable thing to do.
More than 8,000 race participants meet at the Memorial Belltower on the N.C. State University campus, run 2.5 miles to the nearest Krispy Kreme, consume one dozen melt-in-your-mouth original glazed donuts, and then immediately turn around and schlep 2.5 miles back to the finish line -- 5 miles total -- as fast as they can. All proceeds from the Challenge are donated to the North Carolina Children's Hospital. (KrispyKremeChallenge.com)
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Nothing beats a cheesy, thin New York slice. The only better thing might be combining exercise with said slice. (No guilt!) This race, which happens every year in the East Village's Tompkins Square Park, truly takes carb-loading to the next level. Each participant runs a total of 2.25 miles and stops to consume three slices of pizza at various points throughout the route.
You might feel sluggish at the finish, but you'll feel better knowing that you're being gluttonous for a good cause -- a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. If you prefer dessert to dinner, the same race organizers also host a NYC Cupcake Run that has a similar format (NYCPizzaRun.com)
Click here to discover the 4 Secrets to a Perfect Pizza.
Sure, you have to be considered an "elite" to compete in this inaugural event, which will take place in Austin, Texas, this fall. But that doesn't mean you can't simulate the same race at home. Here's how: Complete four laps on a 1,600-meter track, chugging a 12-ounce beer before each lap. Yes, that's a 1-mile run and four full beers -- all done as fast as possible.
One catch: You're not allowed to throw up. "Chugging a beer quickly takes practice," says Olympian and Beer Mile pro Nick Symmonds. "I suggest taking the first 100 meters relatively easy while you burp out the carbonation, and then really run hard the final 300 meters." Another tip: "Don't underestimate the potential of expanding your stomach volume. Eat watermelon throughout the day -- it contains a lot of water and not that many calories, so it's a good food to help stretch your stomach without getting super full," says James Nielsen, who broke the Beer Mile world record (4:57.1) this spring. Oh, and don't forget to have someone else drive you to the track! (Flotrack.org)
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If you dream of elephant ears, candied apples, and corn dogs all year long, then this race organized in part by the Tulsa State Fair has your name all over it. In addition to completing the mileage, registered runners and walkers also have to consume a corndog, lemonade, and cotton candy along the 5K course -- at miles 1, 2 and the finish. The race takes you through the Fair Meadows Horse Track, the old Drillers Stadium, and the Tulsa State Fairgrounds -- all a day before the fair opens to the public. Proceeds from the event benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Tulsa Area United Way. (TulsaStateFair.com)
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We're just going to say it: The T-shirt with a running Twinkie on it is reason enough to do this race, which takes place on April Fool's Day in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (It benefits Ann Arbor Active Against ALS.) This year, the 5th annual running, more than 500 people showed up to do the 5K along the Huron River, and about 800 Twinkies were consumed.
"Twinkie eating is technically optional, but there is a simultaneous eating of a Twinkie at the start gun, runners take off, and then they stop to eat another Twinkie at the half-way point," says race director Joel Dalton. "These don't seem to go down very well, especially for the fastest, most cotton-mouthed runners." But if you take the time to eat an entire Twinkie halfway through your run, you earn a 1-minute deduction in your finish time. Post-race you can hang out and enjoy some homemade grilled Twinkies as well. That's our kind of sugar rush. (activeagainstals.org)
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If you've never been to the Willamette Valley, this annual race is a great excuse to make the trip. Part of the Wine Country Half Marathon series, the Labor Day weekend event starts at the Stoller Family Estate and ends on Main Street in Carlton, taking you on a rolling tour of Yamhill County and all of its beautiful wineries.
If you dare, stop for a brief wine tasting at Lemelson Winery, right before mile 8, and then savor those sips for the next 5+ miles. (It's way better than that extra energy gel you've got in your pocket.) Enjoy some pinot post-race -- and probably pre-race -- as well. And don't worry -- grapes are totally good for you. (DestinationRaces.com)
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