“Chug chug chug chug chew chew chew chew run run run run!”
~Only the Most American of Runners
Americans either love or hate exercising. Sure, you can find some middle ground of, people that guess they should go for a jog today, but generally speaking, you have two camps of American exercisers—the kind of person that gets really into their workout journal, and the kind of person who actively brags that they go out of the way to limit their day to day physical exertions as much as possible. The stereotypes are in place—you have the cross-fit trainer on a Paleo diet, or you have the overweight American chugging a beer while eating a ChipoHut Taco (that’s where you take a Chipotle burrito, put it inside a full Pizza Hut pizza, and fold the whole thing into a massive taco).
Naturally, the latter is the more American option. However, in the past few years, people who “exercise” and “take care of their bodies” and “can go up a flight of stairs without running out of breath” have seemingly taken a hard look at themselves and said, “Yes, I should still exercise, but maybe I can find a way to do it while also being a little unhealthy, which sounds a lot more fun.”
We’ve coined a term for this kind of slightly unhealthy, exponentially more fun exercise—the Jog N’ Vom. Basically, dozens of races have sprung up across America that don’t want you to just run an arbitrary distance while they time you—they want you to incorporate drinking or eating something super unhealthy into your run, turning your 5K into an eating or drinking competition, which is a wonderful thing.
So, for you health nuts out there that still want to be the best American you can be, we present with you a (fairly) comprehensive list of the races that let you be bad while being good.
Jog N’ Vom: America’s Official Food and Drink Races
If you look hard enough, you can find plenty of “dine and dash” type races, but it’s important to clarify the difference between races involving food or drink, or races forcing you into the uncomfortable run of someone sprinting with a stomach filled with, say, doughnuts. Considering how many paid and charity 5Ks, marathons, and every kind of race in between are hosted in America each year, a lot of races try to distinguish themselves from the rest of the fray by offering something fun and silly that’ll make you more likely to fork over dough to run their arbitrarily determined distance. For example, there’s a pancake race. Cool! Eat some pancakes, run and shit! Except, instead of eating pancakes and running a few miles, they have you…flip a pancake in a pan, and then run around with the pan? That’s fucking stupid.
Or how about the Bastille Day Baguette Relay Race, where you just run a relay race using French bread because you’re obnoxious and French and don’t understand that Americans want to watch people hurl after exerting themselves as a way to feel good about their decision to stay seated. Or even the Hot Chocolate 15K, which is an extremely popular race that takes place in over a dozen cities, but only gives you hot chocolate at the end of the race, and not during the race, thus removing the chance that someone can just blindly grab a cup of it and dump it on their face and horribly burn themselves and sue the Hot Chocolate 15k for everything they have and okay once we say it out loud it starts to make a bit more sense to us, that’s fair.
The point being, the following runs are actual races you can sign up for that demand you chug or eat something at some point during the running process. We’ve been training for all of them, minus the running part, all year long.
This is the most American thing that’s ever been officially invented in Canada, so we’re just going to take credit for it ourselves. Beer miles have been in the news a decent amount this year, from the 44 year old woman who set the women’s record, drinking four beers and running a mile in less than six and a half minutes to Lance Armstrong dropping out after one lap, the Beer Mile has evolved from a random thing drunk track athletes would do for fun to having an actual World Championship debuting last year.
The rules of the Beer Mile are simple, with a bunch of nuances that people care too much about when they start getting way too competitive over something that’s intended to just get you drinking, which makes it a lot like Beer Pong the more we think about it. On a standard track, you run four laps (which equals a mile), chugging a whole beer at the start of each one. The current record is just a shade under five minutes for the whole mile, which is frankly astonishing if you ask us. That’s awesome. We’re in awe.
There are additional rules in place—for example, if you hurl (which is pretty easy considering the fact that you’re running with four beers sloshing around in your belly) you have to run an extra penalty lap after you finish (we don’t think they require you to chug a fifth beer, but oh man, how great would it be if they did?). While there have been variations of “drink the beer, run a mile” since the late 1980’s, the rules that are followed in official Beer Mile races (which is a thing, which is great) evolved over time from a group of Canadian students who held the race annually at Queen’s College, which honestly is the only disappointing thing about this race. Why couldn’t America have come up with this first? Damn. Onto the next race.
San Diego Burrito Run
Over the past few years, people seem to have lost their shit over tacos. For whatever reason, gourmet taco shops became a standard thing, everything was taco this and taco that. Tacos are delicious, sure, but outside of an appropriately healthy infatuation with Chipotle, the lonely burrito hasn’t been getting the love it deserves. But Burritos are American as hell (shut up, before you even start to correct that sentence, shut up). They’re meat and cheese packed wrapped bricks of deliciousness that give you enough food for three full meals but fuck that you’re hungry now oink oink eat up little piggy soo-wee soo-WEE.
The point being, a burrito is a food that is only described in strictly cannibalistic terms. “This burrito is the size of a baby.” “This burrito is the size of my head.” “This burrito is the size of Jenkin’s spleen, oh God, we tore into him, like animals, we might have been rescued from the mountain after that plane crash but none of us really truly survived.” So, the Burrito Run, a San Diego yearly event that benefits various charities, decided to take these giant trunk suitcases of meat and use them to make people cramp up while they run and we laugh.
To run the Burrito Run, you simply jog along two miles to the midpoint. That’s when you have to scarf down a whole burrito, and run another two while going, “Oh God, I’m filled with meat and cheese, oh why did I do this to myself.” This is not nearly as competitive minded as the Beer Run, so there’s no penalty for puking. Which is a good thing, since if we had to guess, everyone who has ever run this race in the history of its existence has probably puked. That’s just speculation, of course.
NYC Pizza Run
If New York was going to get in on the Jog N’ Vom bandwagon, it was practically a foregone conclusion that the stomach clogger of choice would be their pizza. Enter the NYC Pizza Run, which has been doing its best to encourage New Yorkers to run with full stomachs since 2010. The race itself is 2 miles in length, with three checkpoints where you have to eat a slice of pizza. In addition to the free pizza, and prize money to the fastest pizza-eaters-slash-runners, registration includes a T-shirt, goodie bag and a free drink at the race’s after party. Proceeds go towards the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, probably to make up for their contribution to the disease with the other race the organizers set up in New York…
NYC Cupcake Run
If you went to the website of the NYC Pizza Run and thought something like, “I don’t like pizza, because I’m a garbage monster of a human being, but I want to go running in New York while filling my stomach with someone unhealthy because I have one single redeeming quality and it is that” then you might have noticed the click-through banner on the side for the NYC Cupcake Race, which is set up by the same company. The Cupcake Run, which took place on October 18th this year in Astoria Park, is a longer race, demanding 5 kilometers (or 3.1 miles for those of us who are brave enough not to bow to the tyranny of the Metric System) of frosting-fueled jogging through Queens. Like the Pizza Run, there are three checkpoints where you eat a cupcake and probably try to throw the wrapper on the ground in such a spot that runners behind you step and slip on it while you play a slide whistle effect.
The perks are the same as the Pizza Race as well, with the distinction of your free drinking coming with a free lunch as well. 2014 marked the second annual running of this race, with 200 slots offered up at $55 apiece, which is a lot of money to pay someone to make you run, but which is also a very modest price for three cupcakes, lunch, and a drink in New York City.
Donut Dash for CASA/ Krispy Kreme Challenge
In 2004, a group of college students at North Carolina State University decided to try a five mile race that involved eating a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts at the halfway marker. The rules stipulated that they had to run the distance and eat the doughnuts in less than an hour, and the first race was won with a time of 34 minutes and 27 seconds. When word spread through campus that “eating a shitload of doughnuts and then racing” was a thing, they decided to make the race an official event, benefiting the North Carolina Children’s Hospital. The Krispy Kreme Challenge was born, with the 11th annual race taking place February 14th, 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Registration is open now, if you want to join in with the 8,000 eaters and runners that ran the race last year.
The best part about the challenge is that they actively advertise how many calories you’re consuming for the race (2,400) which of course renders the 500-to-700-or-so calories you burn during your run completely redundant, which is wonderful. Naturally, this idea needed to be replicated, because imitation is the sincerest form of fattery. Wait, we meant flattery. Little Freudian slip there. Anyway, the Donut Dash for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children) in Lincoln, Nebraska kept the “dozen doughnuts at the halfway marker” part, but decided that five miles is a lot of running, and running makes us tired, so, fuck it, why don’t you just run two kilometers each way instead, which means it is almost exactly half the distance you’d have to run for the Krispy Kreme version.
There’s something beautifully American about this. Not only have we devised a race that forces you to eat more than your daily value of calories during it, but we’ve found a way to make you eat those doughnuts while doing even less exercise to justify it. We think that’s neat. Good job, America.
Durham Doughman Relay
As Forrest Gump once said in the sense that we took a Forrest Gump quotation and changed it because we thought it would be funny, “Life is like a team relay race involving food—you never know what you’re going to eat.” That didn’t land nearly as well as we hoped it would. Anyway, moving on—the Durham North Carolina’s Doughman Relay, which unfortunately took a year off last year,
A team event that changes food every year, the Doughman Relay involves eating food from a local restaurant, followed by one leg of a triathlon (last year’s race had a 1.6 mile swim after an omnivorous dish, a 9.61 mile bike ride after a vegetarian dish, a 2.1 mile omnivorous “short run” and a long run of unspecified distance). The race is finished with the whole team partaking in a short sprint and a dessert dish.
The race supports different charities each year, with no hints on what food you’ll be forced to scarf down before running or, probably most uncomfortably, swimming for a long chunk of time. Seriously, the person who has to eat a meal and then swim 1.6 miles definitely is the person on your team that you dislike the most. “Ugh, John’s running this race with us? Let’s make him swim less than 20 minutes after eating, that asshole.”
To be fair, John is kind of an asshole though.
April Fool’s Twinkie Race
First of all, yes, this is an April Fool’s race, but it’s not an April Fool’s prank, it’s a real race that occurs in Ann Arbor to benefit ALS charities. It’s a (surprisingly cheap, to the tune of $15 or so) 5k race that doesn’t smash your face into a pile of Twinkies while shouting, “Eat up, fatty, eat up, EAT UP FATTY” or anything. In fact, the Twinkie aspect is optional, which feels like a bit of a cop out. The race is run as two laps around a pond, and at the beginning of each lap, the runner is given the option of eating a Twinkie to have a minute taken off their final time.
The race is for a good cause and everything, but, honestly, we don’t see why they don’t just man up and make the Twinkie eating mandatory. Serious racers are going to probably want to lower their time, and Twinkies probably aren’t too hard to run on, and if you’re a casual racer, you definitely would want a Twinkie. We’re going to go out and say it—if you ran this race, and didn’t eat the Twinkies, we don’t really like you as people. There.
They also serve grilled Twinkies to finishers after the race, which is a brilliant thing we totally are kicking ourselves for never trying until now.
The Corndog Classic is a 5K run held in September at the Tulsa State Fair. While you are within your rights to do a fun run one mile, non-Jog-N’-Vom track, the Corndog Challenge is by far the only option you should be considering. As you can tell from the name (duh) there are checkpoints where you eat food, including a corndog. But wait, there’s more! Now, originally, they had you eat a corndog, a thing of cotton candy, and a glass of lemonade throughout the course of the race. Which is fine and sounds delicious and we fully endorse that.
Except this past year, they amped things up a notch by getting rid of the cotton candy and replacing it with a “delicious but you totally will forget how sticky it’ll get your hands until you finish it and are like, oh shit, my hands are super sticky” caramel apple, as well as replacing the lemonade (for those over 21) with a nice cool beer. We completely support this change. It looks like Tulsa’s really got there shit together. Good job.
Now, all of these races are great ways to pump your legs to freedom while keeping your beer belly safely intact. And while we’re sad to see there isn’t a “chug a bottle of whiskey and run until the demons are gone” race out there yet, we’re just going to assume that’s a year or two away.