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November 19 2014 / Emily

Race Report: Matt Gfeller Doughnut Run

The Doughnut Run
The Race Where I Took In More Calories Than I Burned

I had more ambitious plans for a half marathon earlier in November, but my training lapsed and some friends who had also expressed interest weren’t able to run it either, so I was left looking for my monthly race.  Internet searches showed me a number of options across the state.  I seriously considered a 10 mile race 3 hours east, just because the shirt design was so cool.  My Thanksgiving plans are still up in the air, so I couldn’t commit to a Turkey Trot.  Most of the local options were 5ks, and I figured that with a PR on a super flat course as well as an overall female victory in the 5k already under my belt this past year, my potential to match or best those accomplishments was slim, and I wanted to keep riding my successes.

Then I found the Matt Gfeller Doughnut run right here in Winston-Salem.  The 5k race had two categories, Dough or No-Dough.  Dough runners must eat six Krispy Kreme doughnuts at the halfway point of the race, and No Dough runners have the option to eat any number, including zero.  I opted to enter as a Dough runner, giving myself an automatic excuse for not getting a PR or victory, along with a new sort of challenge.

The weather flipped over to winter temperatures the evening before the race, so I was running in sub-freezing weather for the first time in many months, bringing out the ear band and gloves and jacket.  With over 600 total runners, this was also the largest race I’ve done in a while.  There were 193 Dough runners and 477 No Dough runners.  Only 42 female Dough runners finished, so the eaters were predominantly male.  Not too surprising!

Matt Gfeller was a local high school student who died of brain injury after taking a hard hit in a football game in 2008.  His family and friends have put this race together to raise money for brain trauma research.  From the race website, “all entry fees will go to the Matthew Gfeller Foundation to support brain trauma research at the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the Matthew Gfeller Sports Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at UNC-Chapel Hill.”  It starts and finishes at Reynolds High School, and there is a major student presence at the event, despite the fact that Gfeller’s peers have likely all finished college by now.  That said, I have rarely felt so OLD at a race!   Welcome to thirty, Emily!

After some explanations about the course and what to do when we reached the doughnuts, the pack was off!  My toes were numb.  It was different being so crowded on the course.  I’m pretty familiar with the neighborhood as I run through it all the time, but I do generally stick to the routes I know, and we went on a street I don’t know if I’ve run on before.  Always interesting to have a change of pace when you expect it to be familiar!

The doughnuts were in an elementary school parking lot at the halfway point.  I started regaining painful feeling in my toes.  As you approached the lot, the smell of sugar just smacked you in the face.  If you’ve ever been in a Krispy Kreme store when they are making the doughnuts, you know the gist.  There was a timing mat at the entry and exit points of the lot to track the length of time you spent eating.  I thought that was a nice touch!  A big group of volunteers handed out boxes of doughnuts.  I grabbed one, pulled off my gloves and it was time to get down to business.

Given I wasn’t going to be breaking land speed records, I opted to bring my phone along to document this experience.


Mmm… doughnuts


The first doughnut was actually kind of warm, probably from where the volunteer was holding it. This would be a lot easier if they were Hot Doughnuts Now!


smash them flat

I’d seen this in the prior year’s race photos as a good practice, smashing two or more together.  I ate the first warmish one alone, then two sets of smushed double-doughnuts.


chow down

By this point they definitely weren’t warm anymore


don’t forget to chew!

I got glaze-finger prints all over my phone while trying to take these selfies.


okay try to take one where you don’t look miserable

Mental dialogue: “smile! you’re cold and gorging on sweets!  But the picture is going on the internet!”


getting close…

By this point I’m definitely slowing down.. thinking “okay Em, you can do it…”

I grabbed a cup of water to help wash them down. Maybe I should have done this sooner. Dunked them like the Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest guys do? Nah that would just dissolve and be a weird mushy mess.



Time to toss my box into the pile of boxes and head back out!

I checked my watch here and was surprised to see 10 minutes had passed. I thought I was eating more quickly.

Time to put the gloves back on and forge ahead with the second half of the run.  As I took some hesitant steps forward, I didn’t find any complaints from my stomach.  I was surprised and pleased.  I also didn’t see any, uh, doughnut remnants on the side of the road, so perhaps other people were able to keep it together too.  I ran on, decently comfortable.  Actually feeling a little concerned that the binge had not bothered my stomach!

Overall, my time was 34:57.  I ran the first half in 11:33 (7:26 pace per mile), ate the doughnuts in 10:12 (1:42 pace per doughnut) and ran the second half in 13:13 (8:31 pace per mile ).  If you subtract the doughnut part, that’s a 24:46 5k, which isn’t too shabby.

There were only 18 people who ate slower than I did.  That makes me want to go back next year and try to eat faster!  I do have to question some of the times though.  I’m not sure it is humanly possible to eat 6 doughnuts in 1 minute… Maybe he just grabbed the box and left?  Come on fella, you need to eat them in the sugar-scented doughnut area!


Made it to the finish line!


After the race they had refreshments… all I wanted was water.  No thanks to any more doughnuts, or frozen yogurt, or even fruit.  No sugar for a while please!

I made the mistake of tallying up my caloric intake from the race… at 190 calories and 11g fat per Krispy Kreme, that’s 1140 calories and 66g fat.  My general rule of thumb is 100 calories burned per mile, so I netted 840 calories during the race.  Maybe I burned a few more before and after from shivering!

Given the majority male race, and the extremely young field, I decided to wait around for the awards.  I followed the sun around and tried to stay warm.  And I was right to stay!  They announced me as second place female 30-39, but on the results I’m first, as a 36 year old took second place overall.  The awards were hooded sweatshirts with the race logo!  So functional!

Want to see it?  Just a sec, I’ll lay the hoodie and the long sleeve race tech shirt out on the floor and take a photo.  But uh-oh, the cats want to investigate.  I think they also appreciate a cool logo and one of the better race awards I’ve gotten!  Pint glasses, bottle of wine, foot massage (still haven’t used that…or blogged about that race), trivet, those are all handy for sure, but this was a nice surprise.


okay that isn’t helpful



got rid of one… getting closer



ah yes, unobstructed!


In the end, I really enjoyed this race.  Didn’t want to eat much for the rest of the day and probably won’t seek out doughnuts any time soon, but it was fun and for a good cause.  Maybe next year I can get a group to join me and we can see who can eat the fastest!  But one thing I really don’t see myself doing?  The original Krispy Kreme Challenge, held over at NC State.  That’s a full dozen and 5 miles.  No thanks.



Leave a Comment
  1. laurenquartz / Nov 19 2014 9:55 PM

    Congrats on the sweatshirt! Too bad I couldn’t join you. It really would have been fun and I really was leaning toward doing it! I’m pretty sure I would have been even slower at eating the doughnuts… One question: were the awards only for the doughnut eaters?

    • Emily / Nov 19 2014 11:09 PM

      Would have loved to have your company, and you’d probably surprise yourself with the doughnuts, if you were trying to cram them in your face! I might have chewed too much and too carefully. And there were awards for the No Dough runners too, and that had a lot more women and was thus more competitive. Though, I just looked up the times, and the W 30-39 group was 1st 24:41, 2nd 27:35, 3rd 33:49. Just a lot of faster high school girls I guess skewing the results I heard!

  2. cwupcake / Nov 20 2014 10:14 AM

    I have always wanted to do a doughnut race, though I’m afraid much vomit would ensue.

    Congrats on your First/Second place!

  3. Darrel Wells / Nov 20 2014 3:26 PM

    Congratulations on a Gr-eat race, Emily! I’ve always been afraid of the dozen doughnut challenge, but your write-up makes the half seem almost pleasant!

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