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One year ago today, I published my first post here on Anyone Can Enter.
In the 12 months that followed, I’ve stuck to my mission of competing in at least one offbeat, obscure, wacky, or just plain ridiculous event each month, so long as anyone can enter. Along the way, I have succeeded (winning a national championship in egg tossing) and failed (in nearly everything else). More than anything, I’ve had fun at every step. Even when I was earning the title Last Ass in a pack burro race in Colorado or listening to my friends crack on me for failing to complete the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
The way I see it, this occasion deserves a professionally baked cake. It may seem crazy—buying a cake to celebrate the anniversary of a blog—but is it really any crazier than jumping into a freezing cold lake on New Year’s Day or throwing yourself down a hill after a wheel of cheese? I don’t think so.
Plus, this blog is responsible for more than a series of wacky adventures. Back in that first post, I set a few additional goals. One was to lose about 20 pounds. The other was to run a marathon. I’m happy to say that I have exceeded my weight loss goal and that in four days, I’m running in the Tobacco Road Marathon.
As for next year, I doubt I can stand to lose 20 more pounds and I’m not sure I can continue competing in one event each month. But I do plan to maintain this blog. Sometime after the marathon, expect a more sentimental retrospective, complete with a year-in-review video and a more detailed plan for the future of Anyone Can Enter.
For now, let’s take a look at the first year of Anyone Can Enter by the numbers…
11,975—All-time blog views (not including my own views)
8,667—Miles traveled to and from events
1,776—Stairs climbed at the CN Tower Climb
650—Approximate number of people who endured my attempt to holler at the National Hollerin’ Contest
365—Days my awesome, beautiful wife Carie has had to put up with all this nonsense
350—Most blog views in one day, largely thanks to @darrenrovell
349—Second-most blog views in one day, largely thanks to Penn Holderness
335—Comments you’ve made on the blog
253—Miles I’ve run since October, when I started training for the Tobacco Road Marathon
149—Votes I lost by to the eventual winner of the News & Observer’s Ugly Sweater Contest
86—Percentage of people who voted for me to shave my head for the Warrior Dash
62—Feet between Mike Hepp and I when we completed our winning toss in the National Egg Toss Championship
50—Approximate number of people who jumped into a freezing cold lake with me on New Year’s Day
42—Stone skips registered by Russ Byars at the Pennsylvania Stone Skipping Tournament, 27 more than my best effort
25 (and counting)—pounds I’ve lost since starting this blog
15—Trees we planted during the Asheville Idiotarod
10.5—Doughnuts I managed to eat at the Krispy Kreme Challenge, 1.5 less than the necessary dozen to complete the challenge
10—Men, including me, who entered the Idaho Springs Pack Burro Race
9—Men who finished ahead of me in the Idaho Springs Pack Burro Race
4—Orange habanero peppers I ate during the Bailey Farms Chile Pepper Eating Contest before bowing out to the Toothless Pepper King, who ate 14
3—National champion coaches who declined my request for advice leading up to the National Egg Toss Championship
1—National championship won without the help of national championship coaches
Initially, the idea seemed like digestive and cardiovascular double suicide.
Run about 2 miles.
Eat not one but 12 Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnuts. All 2,280 calories of them.
And do it all in less than one hour.
However, given time and a steady running routine, my anxiety about competing in the Krispy Kreme Challenge wore off. I am, after all, training for a marathon, so a 4.77-mile run hardly scares me. Eating a dozen doughnuts isn’t something I attempt on a regular basis, but that would take care of itself. I’d starve myself the night before the race so that I’d be hungry for a race-day sugar rush. All I’d really need was about 20 minutes to polish off the doughnuts.
Two minutes into the race, I say as much to my friend and Krispy Kreme Challenge veteran Adam Pfanmiller.
“I don’t see why it’s such a big deal,” I say. “You pace yourself to get there in about 20 minutes, eat your doughnuts in about 20 minutes, and then run back in the final 20.”
If only that eating part was so easy.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Started as a dare between N.C. State University students in 2004, the Krispy Kreme Challenge is now a full-blown fundraising event that draws 7,500 entrants and benefits the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.
Two months before the race, I attempted a training run with Adam and Mike Hepp. I ate five doughnuts when we recreated the race. The only other time I ate doughnuts was about a week before the race when I smushed a dozen doughnuts into one piece, just to see what it would look like.
While smushing together a dozen doughnuts may seem silly, several friends who have successfully completed the challenge suggested smushing two or three doughnuts together at a time. They also suggested that I eat very little the night before the race, so I ignored my hamburger craving and opted for a bowl of cereal and some fruit.
A nearly empty bowel, I assumed, would help me stuff down all those doughnuts. Forget about the gluttonous act of pigging out on a whole box of doughnuts. I’d probably be so hungry that I might start a second dozen. With cream filling.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
All week, the weatherman called for temperatures in the upper 30s and showers.
He was right.
Fifteen minutes before the race, Adam, Mike, and I finally leave the shelter of my car and subject ourselves to the elements. The rain isn’t pouring, but it’s steady enough to be annoying, especially in tandem with the frigid temperature.
We approach the start line just before the race begins. Surrounded by thousands of costumed- and ponchod-racers, I realize that I’ll never find John Palko (my brother-in-law) and Jacob Palko (my nephew), who are competing as Casual Runners (meaning that they’re not intending to eat all 12 doughnuts).
Mike, who has been approaching this race like a title fight, immediately sprints ahead of us, so Adam and I glide to Krispy Kreme at a nice 10-minute-per-mile pace.
Once we arrive, we grab our doughnut boxes and wade through one of the stranger scenes I’ve ever seen. Hundreds of fit, well-conditioned athletes are crammed into a parking lot and city street, some of them sitting on the ground, silently shoveling empty calories into their mouth.
Moments later, I join them in a doughnut-inspired Twilight Zone.
I follow Adam’s lead and smush three doughnuts together. I take a giant bite, awake my jaws from an unusually long slumber, chew as fast as I can, and savor the taste of sugar. Then, I repeat.
But it doesn’t take long for me to realize that I’m only halfway through my first three doughnuts by the time Adam is starting his second cycle. I try to eat faster, but I feel like my mouth is moving in slow motion while Adam’s is chugging along at warp speed. I try to take bigger bites, but it doesn’t help.
Nearby, another racer vomits.
Soon, Adam finishes eating, and I’m still working on my second set of doughnuts. I tell him to go ahead without me, that I’ll be fine.
But my stopwatch disagrees. We started eating our doughnuts about 24 minutes after we left the Bell Tower and it’s taken me 12 minutes to eat six doughnuts. The latest I could leave to make it back would be when my stopwatch reads 44 minutes. And that’s assuming I can run with that much dough hopping around in my stomach.
At this point, I make a huge mistake: I look at the stack of doughnuts I’m eating.
For the first part of this exercise, I’ve been taking bites and staring off at nothing. I’ve been eating, but haven’t really been thinking about what I’m actually putting into my body. Now that I look down and see the layers of dough, I start to think about those 2,280 calories and what they’ll be doing in my body. Settling in to a nice place exactly where I button my jeans, that’s what.
Finally, I fight an urge to puke.
The feeling passes, but I doubt myself. I tell Carie, who’s filming this pathetic display, that I don’t understand how competitive eaters do it. She tells me to stop talking and eat. At one point, she even tells me to “be a man.” I’m so beaten by the doughnuts, however, that I don’t seem to care that my wife is challenging my manhood. I simply want it all to be over. I want a dry sweatshirt and a soft, cozy couch in a dark, quiet room.
For a moment, I’m motivated by the sight of John and Jacob. They’ve finished eating a combined 13 doughnuts and are ready to start running. Since they’re not running as Challengers, like me, I assume they might stick around and root me on for my final doughnuts. Instead, they decide they’d rather finish with a better time than me, and I’m back in a doughnut ditch.
I’m almost finished with the third set of doughnuts when I decide to smush them together with the final set of three doughnuts. For a minute, this gives me hope. I think there’s a chance I may actually finish in time to race back and complete the challenge. But my bites are giving way to nibbles and pecks.
I survey the parking lot and notice that strewn-about empty boxes now outnumber people.
I look at my watch. It reads 48 minutes and change.
Completing the challenge is hopeless, so I ponder the benefits of saying that I at least finished the doughnuts. In my right hand, I’m clinging to a mushed up ball of dough. Later, when I review the video, I’ll see that it only equates to a measly two doughnuts. But right now, it must weigh a pound. And there’s no way it’s going to fit in my stomach.
So I chuck it and start running back to finish a challenge I’ve already failed.
Strangely enough, I don’t feel bad about it.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
To make this a better story, I’d like to tell you that as soon as I threw away that doughnut ball, I was overcome by a Rudy-like determination to finish what I’d started. That I dug it out of the nearest trash pile and forced it down my throat while a crowd of onlookers chanted my name.
At the very least, I’d like to tell you that I barfed.
Or that I ran back in 10 minutes.
None of that is true. (Although I did pass John and Jacob.)
Instead, I had a pleasant return run. Sure, the first couple of steps were a little dicey, but I never felt sick.
The worst part was enduring some trash talking from Adam, who completed the challenge in 56:48, and Mike, who was only 11 minutes off the winning pace at 40:37.
But even that wasn’t so bad. Honestly, it was funny.
Plus, I’m actually quite proud to say that I’m a lousy doughnut eater. I’d much rather be good at a more worthwhile pursuit.
Something that really makes a difference.
Something that will define me.
Now, if only I could find a miniature doughnut eating challenge.
This morning, I failed to fulfill the Krispy Kreme Challenge. I finished the run, but I couldn’t finish the doughnuts.
In retrospect, I probably should have spent less time taking pictures of doughnuts during the past two weeks and more time actually eating doughnuts. Rookie mistake.
Check back soon for a full report and video.
Yesterday, I mentioned that I would close this project with my all-time favorite breakfast food.
If you assumed that was anything other than eggs, you obviously forgot that I’m a national champion in egg tossing. Also, maybe you just forgot that eggs are awesome.
That’s enough about eggs. For now.
It’s time for me to go stretch my legs and stuff my gut with doughnuts at the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
The race-time weather forecast for the Krispy Kreme Challenge calls for a temperature around 39 degrees and a 60 percent chance of rain.
On a side note, I predict there’s a 70 percent chance I throw up at the finish line and a 100 percent chance I take a three-hour nap Saturday afternoon.
Now, I present to you: doughnuts vs. waffles. (Coming tomorrow: yogurt.)
Today, a dozen doughnuts take on a dozen mini biscuits.
You might remember Day 4, when I compared a dozen doughnuts to a dozen blackberries and pondered on the delicious potential of a blackberry doughnut. Today, I’m in the same kind of mood. Only this time, I’m thinking that a mini biscuit wedged into a doughnut hole would make a mighty tasty combination.
Of course, that biscuit might need something else inside it.
Like a mini doughnut.
Ever wondered what a dozen doughnuts would look like if you smushed them together into one colossal piece?
Well, I did it. And it ain’t pretty, folks.
Watch the video to see for yourself.
As I mentioned on Day 1, I only had about 5 breakfast foods at home the night I started this project. As a result, I eventually took some pictures of doughnuts compared to non-breakfast foods.
Like dog food.
So I went to the grocery store Saturday morning and stocked up on some more traditional human staples. Since all these doughnuts will be going in my gut, I figured my stomach should be the backdrop for this next set of comparisons.
The first breakfast item to land in my gut was turkey bacon. Believe it or not, 12 strips of turkey bacon only amount to 420 calories. That’s 1,860 less than a dozen doughnuts. So there you have it, go eat some bacon.