Jess Thornton is determined to complete the Krispy Kreme Challenge this year.
She’s run the race twice before, and both times she finished the five-mile race from the Bell Tower to the Krispy Kreme in downtown Raleigh and then back to the Bell Tower. But she still hasn’t completed the challenge included in the name of the race. “Technically,” she says.
That’s because the challenge awaiting 8,000 runner on Saturday morning is to run 2.5 miles to the Krispy Kreme, eat a dozen doughnuts, and then make the difficult 2.5-mile run back Hillsborough Street to the finish line. And to do it in less than an hour.
Thornton, a 2001 NC State grad, has no problem with the running. She’s an avid runner who finished last year’s race with five minutes to spare. Her problem is the doughnuts.
“The first year, I didn’t know what to expect,” she says. “I ran with a friend and we took our time, joking around, taking photos. We were only about to get down six doughnuts. We ran back, and we were over the hour.”
Last year, in her second try, Thornton was determined. “I was going to do it,” she says. “But I ended up eating nine doughnuts.”
This year, though, Thornton is ready to conquer the Krispy Kreme Challenge. “I think this is my year,” she says. “This is the year I’m going to eat all 12.”
Thornton, who works in the provost’s office at Duke University (she wears red to work after NC State wins and keeps an NC State coffee mug on her desk), has tried different methods in eating the doughnuts. The first year, she smashed three doughnuts together. “That was a bad idea,” she says. “Halfway through the second stack, your stomach is just revolting.” The second year she ate the doughnuts one at a time, as fast as she could. “I’m going to stick with that model this year,” she says.
But Thornton has already risen to one challenge, raising almost $600 from friends and supporters. That money, like all of that raised by runners in the Krispy Kreme Challenge, will be used to support programs at the N.C. Children’s Hospital.
“I think it’s a great idea, a good way to raise money for the hospital,” Thornton says. “I have a lot of friends who are runners, and that’s a large community that is always fundraising.”
Thornton loves being part of the Krispy Kreme Challenge. “I love racing,” she says. “I love NC State. I like the environment — everyone is in a good mood.”
But she also wants to conquer the challenge this year. “I’m really goal oriented,” she says, “and I want to finish the damn race.”
No matter what happens on Saturday, Thornton will be done with doughnuts once the race is over. “I don’t eat doughnuts,” she says. “I get my fill of doughnuts for the rest of the year.”
The 9th Annual Krispy Kreme Challenge will be run at 8:30 am on Saturday. About 8,000 runners are expected to participate in the Challenge, which involves a five-mile run from NC State’s Bell Tower to the Krispy Kreme in downtown Raleigh and back. The twist is that runners have to stop at the Krispy Kreme and eat a dozen doughnuts before completing the second half of the race. To complete the challenge, runners must finish the race (and the doughnuts) in less than an hour. The event began in 2004 as a dare between a few NC State students, and raises money for the N.C. Children’s Hospital.