The Krispy Kreme Challenge began in 2004 as a lighthearted dare among a dozen friends. The truly unique event quickly became an NC State tradition and has now raised more than $1.87 million to fund the NC State Park Scholars Specialty Care program at UNC Children’s. The 2020 Challenge raised $175,000, bringing the race’s cumulative donation close to its $2 million commitment.
On February 1, 5,480 participants braved damp and overcast conditions to complete a five-mile circuit notorious for its mid-race twist: consume a dozen doughnuts at the halfway point before returning to the finish line. “Casual” and “No Doughnut” categories have been introduced over the years to accommodate more activity levels and dietary preferences.
The race begins at NC State’s Memorial Belltower and winds through Raleigh to the iconic Person Street Krispy Kreme location where challengers eat a dozen doughnuts before returning to the Belltower. “Race day brings together hardcore racers, groups of friends, and families alike who all create the energized environment surrounding Hillsborough Street and the Belltower and filling the street with costumes more impressive than seen on Halloween!” said Matt Traenkle ’21, who served with Georgia Burgess ’21, Natalie Collier ’21, and Elise Romola ’21 as race directors for the 2020 Krispy Kreme Challenge. The race is truly a community event, drawing participants ranging in age from children to senior citizens from throughout the Triangle and beyond.
“When I first got to school, I thought the Krispy Kreme Challenge was simply a fun race,” said Elise Romola ’21. “It continues to amaze me to see how much community support we garner each year. Knowing that we make a tangible difference in the lives of patients at UNC Children’s makes it all worthwhile.”
While the original challenge is to complete the course in under an hour, the winner of this year’s race, Stephen Rathburn, finished with a time of 28:28. Regardless of completion time, the event is a fun way to support an important cause. “Not only is it a ton of fun to dress up, get active, and eat doughnuts on a Saturday morning with friends and family, but the Krispy Kreme Challenge is an example of what a local community can accomplish with a common goal of supporting the children’s hospital in mind,” said Natalie Collier ’21.
“Currently, I never want to see another doughnut in my life,” Romola joked. “But come next fall, I’ll be back talking about Krispy Kreme doughnuts and the Krispy Kreme Challenge nonstop!”