Why do you run races? Do you do it for the endorphin rush? Do you do it because of a personal goal you set for yourself? Or do you do it because you have to eat cotton candy and pizza during the race?
While our hometown Illinois Marathon is pretty tame, there are a number of wild and wacky races out there. Nationwide, people run races in costumes or while consuming some crazy food. With a good number of the races listed below having their first annual event in 2011, it is clear that this new phenomenon is really taking the country by storm.
Personally, I can’t even stomach the smell of the Dominos pizza in Memorial Stadium after the race. Some people crave greasy foods and completely devour unhealthy nibbles; others have zero appetite and can barely keep down half a bagel. Clearly those people are not running these races, which will test your endurance AND your appetite. Have any of you run one of these, or a similar foodie race? Tell us about it; I think I’m all in for the December Hot Cocoa Run…
April: Twinkie Race, Ann Arbor, MI
This race may have already passed, but it sounded good enough to still share. You don’t HAVE to eat Twinkies during this April Fool’s Day race, but inhaling a snack cake at 2 stops along the 5K course will allow you to shave 2 minutes off your total time (which, in my opinion, is well worth consuming the Twinkies). Race organizers say 2/3rds of the 300 competitors in last year’s inaugural race ate at least one cake on the run. Others waited until after crossing the finish line to indulge themselves. “I ordered 500 Twinkies in preparation for the event,” says organizer Amanda Mercer, “and there were no leftovers.”
April 1; runmichigan.com
May: Doughman Challenge, Durham, NC
Spots for this four-person relay race sell out within seconds during registration in February or March each year, long before the Memorial Day weekend event. Each team member must devour a meal from a local restaurant before running, biking or swimming their leg of the race. But what would a meal be without desert? In addition to the meal, all four team members must come back together to eat treats like ice pops or cupcakes before crossing the finish line. Talk about a team effort.
May 26; doughman.org
No trip to NYC is complete without a legendary slice and this race ensures you’ll have at least three while you’re in the Big Apple. Runners circle Tompkins Square Park 4 times, stopping to eat a piece of cheese pizza after each of the first three laps. (I would at least ask for pepperoni for a little protein boost). Prizes include a pizza stone and gift certificates to local pizzerias. And if you want a shot at one of these, I’d recommend to start training now; the current record holder finished the 2.25 mile race in an impressive 14 minutes, 25 seconds.
Date TBD; nycpizzarun.com
July: Bastille Day Baguette Relay Race, Washington DC
We’ve all seen racers hand off a baton from person to person, but what about a french baguette? The French bakery Paul celebrated Bastille Day last year with a relay race that sent competitors speed-walking around the nearby US Navy Memorial. More than 200 people showed up to watch the first annual event and this year, organizers plan to add more races to the day’s festivities.
July 14; paul-usa.com
August: Run for the Pie, Frederick, MD
We all know there is an inevitable entry fee for any race. But what if that fee could be buying a pie? Such is the case with this 10K race (along with $5 if you don’t below to the local running club). Not only that, but everyone who completes the run gets to take home a pie – and the winner gets first pick of the delectable pastries. This is WAY better than another race-day T-shirt that doesn’t fit.
Date TBD; steeplechasers.org
September: Corn Dog Classic, Tulsa, OKOklahoma kicked off Tulsa’s State Fair last year with the new Corn Dog Classic, a fair-food race for competitive eaters. Each runner had to finish some cotton candy after mile one, a cup of lemonade after mile two and a mini corn dog after mile three. Close to 100 runners competed in last year’s inaugural race and organizers are ready to fire up their deep fryers for round two. I’m wondering if the sugar rush would help propel you. Maybe I’ll pack a bag of cotton candy during my next race, just in case…
Date TBD; corndogclassic5k.com
October: Wine Country Half Marathon, Sonoma, CA
Instead of the usual trek through 13.1 miles worth of city streets, this half marathon takes athletes past 24 wineries and vineyards. At the mile-six water stop, stationed near Quivira Winery, runners can grab a taste of sauvignon blanc and there are plenty of wine samples at the finish line. Running and wine – two of my all-time favorite things in one event? Yes, please.
October 27; runhealdsburg.com
November: Greenlake Gobble and Mashed Potato Munch Off, Seattle, WA
Well of course the November foodie run I write about has to do with our two favorite Thanksgiving staples: turkey and taters. Plenty of people run a turkey trot before Thanksgiving dinner, but this challenge takes the practice to a whole new level. Runners in the 5K buy raffle tickets for the chance to enter a mashed potato-eating contest near the finish line. The eight people selected compete to see who can down the most mashed potatoes (sans gravy) in four minutes. If you aren’t a fan of Aunt Martha’s dry turkey or lumpy potatoes, you may want to consider this so you can at least get some decent food.
November 18; promotionevents.com
December: Hot Chocolate Race, Phoenix, AZ
Although many runners in the hugely popular Hot Chocolate Race series have asked for hot cocoa stations along the route, organizers are sticking to their plan to keep the starring drink at the end of the course (all 1500 gallons of it) and just provide water during the morning 5K and 15K runs. Sign up early: registration for the event opens, appropriately, on Valentines Day. I hear there is also a similar race up in Chicago, which sounds totally delectable.
December 9; hotchocolate15K.com