The Krispy Kreme Challenge has special meaning for David Spencer.
Spencer’s son, Andrew, was born on Feb. 5, 2007. When he was just 5 weeks old, Andrew was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and his parents were told to take him immediately to N.C. Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill. “Don’t stop to get gas,” they were told.
The surgery was a success, but Andrew struggled to breath without a ventilator. The family didn’t leave the hospital to return home to Clayton, N.C., until mid-May, and Andrew needed the help of a tracheostomy to breath until his first birthday. Since then, Andrew has been fine. He plays soccer and t-ball, loves to swim and recently started taking karate lessons.
“They saved my son’s life,” says Spencer, a 2002 NC State civil engineering grad who works as a senior traffic engineer for the town of Cary, N.C.. “He wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
Spencer will run in the Krispy Kreme Challenge for the fourth time this Saturday. He first ran the race in 2009, when Spencer and his wife, Jessica, (and a small group of friends) wore t-shirts bearing Andrew’s picture. The race raises money for the N.C. Children’s Hospital.
Spencer was convinced he completed the challenge in less than an hour in 2009, but the official time indicated otherwise. “Some sort of conspiracy,” he says with a laugh. Since then, Spencer has run the race as a “casual” entrant, someone who is not trying to polish off a dozen doughnuts in the middle of a five-mile race. “I learned my lesson,” he says. “I didn’t get sick, but it’s an awful feeling.”
But Spencer does still try to eat at least six doughnuts. His approach is to “squish” three together and then “attack” the stack.
Spencer hopes to participate in the challenge for years to come. One day, perhaps, Andrew will run alongside him in the race. It’s an event that Spencer has come to love.
“One, it benefits the Children’s Hospital, and that’s really important to us,” he says. “Two, I’m an NC State grad. And, three, I like doughnuts. And I do like to get out and run. You combine all those things and it’s a fun event.”
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.