By Lisa Bucher
The stereotype of runners as having tricky stomachs and being picky eaters is being challenged with the bizarre boom in running events with an eating or drinking component. Whether you’re in it for the bragging rights (“you ate how many hot dogs?”) or looking for a racing situation unique to your personal interests (wine on the course, anyone?), we have compiled some of the most wacky and wonderful food races that are guaran- teed to feed your adrenaline rush as well as your appetite.
New York Hot Dog Challenge
Location: New York City
Does overindulging while participating in a race sound like a recipe for disaster? Not if you start training by the barbecue. Event organizer, Christopher Baker says,
“Some practice running and others focus on eating, but the winner is always someone who has trained in both.” Participants race through Central Park, Midtown, and Time Square, stopping at 10 predetermined food carts, purchase and eat a hot dog before making their way to the next stop (vomiting disqualifies you and each participant is provided with a referee). Baker says that “a slow and steady approach always wins this race!”
The Chocolate Race
Distance: 5K, 10K and 16K
Location: St. Catharines, Ont.
There is no better motivator to finish a race than chocolate awaiting you at the finish line. The aptly named Chocolate Race features locally-made chocolate stuffed croissants, creamy chocolate truffles, sinfully sweet dipped strawberries and mouth-watering fudge. You actually don’t even have to wait to indulge at the finish line. There are three aid stations serving up chocolatey treats along the way. However, most of the chocolate is post-race, making you work for your calories.
Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half-Marathon
Location: Sonoma, Calif.
The course starts at Cuvaison Estate Winery, famous for its elegant chardonnays and pinot noirs, taking runners through acres of grapevine and scenic ranches. The race finishes in the heart of downtown Sonoma. You can make the race a weekend event by enjoying the wine-themed welcome reception, pre-race dinner and post-race wine and music festival featuring local wineries and breweries.
Le Marathon du Médoc
Location: Médoc region (near Bordeaux), France
If you would prefer a little wine and foie gras with your 42.2k race then let us suggest the Médoc Marathon. Set in the Médoc wine region near Bordeaux, this uniquely French event takes runners on a tour through the most famous vineyards of France to taste some of the best wines in the world. Rest stops along the route serve local delicacies such as foie gras, freshly shucked oysters, escargot and artisanal cheeses. To add to the atmosphere, musi- cians serenade participants as they pass. Unlike other marathons, which honour those who cross the finish line first, this one awards everyone who finishes within six and a half hours. No one in their right mind wants to rush while enjoying such delicious food and drink.
Trek or Treat
Location: Oakville and Collingwood, Ont.
This is a sugar-high meets runners-high event for those who love nothing more than a Halloween candy binge.
Trek or Treat is a night race on paved trails decorated in the spirit of Halloween. There is a Creepy Mile for families and a 5k with two water and candy stations so that participants can munch their way to the finish line. A post-race, family- friendly Halloween party provides even more candy (over 9,000 pieces) as well as pizza, hot chocolate and coffee. To justify your indulgence, remember all the times you’ve heard that simple sugar is the best fuel for a race.
The Krispy Kreme Challenge
Location: Raleigh, N.C.
This infamous race started as a bet between a group of North Carolina State undergrads. Who could run 4k, eat a dozen original Krispy Kremes and then run back the fastest? The race has grown from its student-dare days to 8,100 runners participating last year, raising over us$200,000 for the North Carolina Children’s Hospital. Coming in at a whop- ping 2,400-calorie total, you might need to put in some extra training to earn the treat of participating in this race.
Highway 2 McDonald’s Challenge
Location: Kingston, Ont.
Another student-created event, the Highway 2 McDonald’s Challenge was started by the Queen’s University cross-country team. Participants run 4k from the campus to the local McDonald’s, located at Fort Henry, consume a Double Big Mac, large fries and large Coke, before racing 4k back to campus. Eager to get in on the action, the McMaster cross-country team has begun travelling to Kingston to take part in the event. The tradition has also been exported to Waterloo. Given a few years to continue growing, the Highway 2 McDonald’s Challenge may go the way of the Krispy Kreme Challenge and become an open, charity-oriented race. In the meantime, you can watch all the suffering on YouTube by searching for “2014 h2mc Promo” for some laughs.