Donut Dash leads to post-race crash: With sore legs and upset stomachs, The Duke conquers Pittsburgh’s most grueling charity run

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Donut Run. Runners scarf down donuts as fast as they can.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Donut Run. Runners scarf down donuts as fast as they can.

By Sydney McCabe | The Duquesne Duke

At the forewarning of a certain features editor, I took the challenge this weekend of running the Donut Dash, a race in which participants run a mile, eat six donuts (or as many as they possibly can) and then scramble to run an additional mile. As an experienced runner, I thought this would be a fun spin on my hobby, so I disregarded all the warnings against it and signed up.

I was apprehensive about running by myself, so I roped a friend, freshman Gabriella Vacarro, into running with me. We arrived at Schenley Plaza around 10:30 a.m., and though the early crowd was thin, it was already diverse. The event offers both a competitive run, where participants must eat all six donuts, and a casual division (which we ran), where less competitive participants race for fun and eat as many donuts as they can.

As a result of the two divisions, Schenley Plaza filled with a wide variety of people; those dressed head-to-toe in Nike gear standing alongside those dressed as slices of pizza.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Donut Run. A swarm of runners take part in last Sunday’s Donut Dash. On top of this physical activity, participants also had to consume donuts mid-race. Proceeds benefit the Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Donut Run. A swarm of runners take part in last Sunday’s Donut Dash. On top of this physical activity, participants also had to consume donuts mid-race. Proceeds benefit the Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research.

Surprisingly, before the race, people were already eating donuts. Peace, Love and Little Donuts of Meyran Street was there to offer “race appetizers,” and I would be lying if didn’t admit that I, somewhat foolishly, treated myself to one. Gabriella, exceptionally foolishly, treated herself to four. Retrospectively that was a mistake, but it was delicious nonetheless!

We looped around the course to warm up and saw many of the other competitors doing the same. Among the competitors were girls from the Carnegie Mellon University cross-country team with donuts painted on themselves, runners with dogs and pizza deliverymen donning visors, jeans and carrying a pizza box.

As the race drew near, crowds began to form on the plaza and the announcement was made that the event’s record breaking 1,000 participants had surpassed the goal of raising $100,000 to benefit the Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research, a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh and Live Like Lou that aims for find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The competitive division participants made their way to the start. Gabriella and I were participating in the casual division, so our race went off an hour after the competitive event. We stood at the first turn and watched as the mass of participants took off, led by a “rabbit” wearing a GoPro camera on the back of his head to film the sprint at the start of the race.

The first runners looped back for the donut-eating portion of the race in four minutes, and the winner of the competitive event crossed the line in under 13 minutes. That, in my opinion, is somewhat nauseating in and of itself.

Slightly after noon it was time for the casual division race. The starting chute was crammed full of kids, parents and two girls dressed as one camel. The only signal that the race had begun was the crowd thinning in front of us as other competitors moved forward, which highly contrasted the event-wide countdown that began the competitive event. Regardless, we set off on our first loop.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Donut Run. Participants drink water to stay hydrated.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Donut Run. Participants drink water to stay hydrated.

We weaved through the hordes of people and found our spot roughly in the middle of the pack. As we moved away from the plaza the music faded, but the cheering and joking of spectators and competitors alike kept our spirits high. We turned around just past Phipps Conservatory and headed back, completing our first loop in just over 8 minutes.

The donut stop, what I was looking forward to, presented the most trouble. I unfortunately was only able to eat a total of three donuts, but Gabriella more than made up for me. She ate a total of six, although admittedly some tears of mixed emotion were shed.

It took us eight more minutes to eat our donuts before we raced back into the park to complete the last leg. Along the way we passed a little boy, no more than six or seven, running with his father. We told him he must be really tough and he galloped off ahead of us to show just how tough he truly was. Although the second lap seemed to fly by, strangely enough, we matched our first lap time by finishing in just over 24 minutes.

After it was all over, there was some punishment in the form of a relentless stomach-ache, but I wouldn’t say I regret participating. I will say, however, that next year I might offer some forewarning of my own.

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