North Carolina State’s Krispy Kreme run is sweet charity

RALEIGH, N. C. (MCT) – It’s probably best that most college dares aren’t repeated by the hundreds. The annual Krispy Kreme Challenge, held Saturday, is an exception.

A few years ago, North Carolina State University student Chris McCoy issued this challenge to friends: Run two miles from North Carolina State’s Belltower to the Krispy Kreme store on Person Street. Eat a dozen doughnuts. Run back to the Belltower. All in less than an hour. And without puking.

McCoy overslept the first year. But a dozen tried it anyway in December 2004.

The next year, a group of those original runners made the event a little more formal, setting up a Web site and raising money for charity. About 150 ran last January, raising $800 for the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.

This year, organizers revamped the Web site and worked harder to get the word out.

More than 1,300 runners took the challenge Saturday morning, including McCoy for the first time. Streets were closed, and police directed traffic.

About $10,000 will be donated to the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.

Many runners were North Carolina State University students or recent graduates, but there were others who hadn’t seen a college classroom in decades. Some sported matching T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as “Glazed & Confused.”

Organizers, mostly seniors at North Carolina State, hope to make the race a school tradition. They are cultivating about a dozen freshmen to carry it on next year.

“We don’t have many notable traditions that other schools have, so I think we are finding a lot of people embracing it,” said Saket Vora, an electrical engineering senior from Cary, North Carolina

Vora supervised volunteers, who supervised the parking lot at the Krispy Kreme store, where boxes of the glazed delicacies sat in piles. Krispy Kreme, which is not directly affiliated with the race, started making doughnuts at 4:30 a.m. Saturday so there would be enough to supply both the runners and regular customers.

The first runner, Auburn Staples, took only about 8 minutes to run the first two miles. He dunked his doughnuts in water and stuffed them in his mouth, his cheeks pudgy with sugary dough.

Next to him, runners Paul Potorti and Mike Aldrink surveyed their meal.

“Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into,” Potorti said, opening his box. “All right, I’m done,” he said as he started to eat.

“No, man,” Aldrink shouted. “Don’t give up.”

Staples, a North Carolina State senior, finished his dozen in about seven minutes and sprinted back down Peace Street. Standing 6 feet and weighing 141 pounds, Staples finished first, in 24 minutes, 31 seconds, beating his time last year by more than six minutes.

Twenty-one blue-shirted runners, all members of an informal “frarority” called Zeta Beta Kappa Kappa Pi Theta Phi Omega Mu/Psi Phi Chi Pi Xi Xi Xi, took the challenge together. Some had done some training runs to prepare; others tried to stretch their stomachs with a feast at Golden Corral.

At Krispy Kreme, members of Zeta Beta Kappa Kappa gathered to eat.

“I live for this,” shouted Drew Fitzgerald, an elementary school teacher who graduated last year.

None of the frarority members made it into the top 10 winners circle, though they grabbed the coveted prize for being the biggest team: each received another dozen doughnuts.

And, for the record, none of them threw up, though a few other runners did, several along a white fence at Krispy Kreme.

As the post-race crowd began to wander away, the frarority members stood on the stage, reveled in their victory and yelled as loud as they could:

“Zeta Beta Kappa Kappa Pi Theta Phi Omega Mu/Psi Phi Chi Pi Xi Xi Xi. Whoo!”