Since 2004, runners from around the Triangle and beyond have converged at the base of the Belltower in early February to run the famous Krispy Kreme Challenge. The innovative charity race has now raised more than $1.87 million to fund the NC State Park Scholars Specialty Care program at UNC Children’s. While the 17th Krispy Kreme Challenge will look different, “it is more important now than ever that we offer UNC Children’s financial support so that they can continue to serve the children and families of North Carolina,” explains race director Tatum Kellum ’22.
Kellum is one of four student race directors for this year’s Krispy Kreme Challenge. She was initially drawn to the hype of NC State’s most iconic race. “After learning more about it through the Park Scholarships program, I knew that I wanted to get involved because it blends volunteer work and assists in providing affordable health care,” Kellum explains.
“UNC Children’s provides health care to children across North Carolina, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.” The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional strains and pressures, and the Krispy Kreme Challenge provides critical funding as the hospital’s largest unrestricted donor.
To keep everyone up and running, the Krispy Kreme Challenge has gone virtual for 2021. “There is no way to eat doughnuts while simultaneously wearing a mask,” Kellum says, referring to the dozen doughnuts runners traditionally consume midway through the 5-mile route. “Safety was our biggest concern, and the virtual race allows us to better protect everyone involved.”
Remote runners will still have the opportunity to get their fill of carbohydrates. This year’s virtual race registration comes with a voucher for a dozen doughnuts accepted at Krispy Kreme locations nationwide. The Krispy Kreme Challenge team has worked hard to translate the spirit of the in-person event to the virtual format for this year’s race, and this is one of their logistical accomplishments.
In addition to including doughnuts, the virtual format allows for increased flexibility as the race will take place over February 6-13. There will also be an online expo and virtual programs throughout the week of the race.
NC State student turnout, however, was tracking lower than average through mid-December. “With many of our [event-based] advertising opportunities canceled due to the pandemic, we have struggled to generate the same excitement.” NC State’s #1 Student Tradition, as the Krispy Kreme Challenge is affectionately known, has had a difficult time breaking through to students through only online promotion. Kellum remains hopeful that more people will register as the race approaches.
“The virtual race format allows more people to participate! We have runners from all over the country and from many other universities,” Kellum reports.
Runners have until 11 p.m. EST on February 13 to register for the race.