Minute 1: The Krispy Kreme Challenge is the tastiest race in America
Move over, Beer Mile, there’s a new stunt race in town to challenge your aerobic and digestive systems at the same time. The Krispy Kreme Challenge has become an annual tradition in Raleigh, NC, with runners attempting to eat a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts at the halfway point of a five-mile race. To qualify as an official finisher, runners must complete the run and eat all 12 donuts (worth 2,280 calories and 300 percent of your suggested daily intake of saturated fats) in under an hour. What started as a joke among a handful of N.C. State students has become a huge event, with more than 5,000 entrants this year. Participants have come up with various strategies to optimize the eating, including some who go so far as to mash all 12 donuts into one giant fist-sized ball. Sorry for that visual image. Organizers say there isn’t quite as much puking as you’d expect, but there are plenty of trashcans lining the course just in case. Stephen Rathbun won this year’s Challenge in a record-smashing time of 28:29. Mind = blown. #Booter’sDozen
Minute 2: The controversial Nike Vaporfly won’t be banned from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
If you’ve been to a major road race in the last three years, you’ve no doubt seen growing numbers of runners sporting Nike’s signature neon racing shoe, the Vaporfly. The carbon-plated shoe with extra-springy foam has been a lightning rod for debate in the sport, with many viewing it as a form of spring-loaded mechanical doping. Competitors like Adidas, Asics, Brooks and Saucony have tried to keep up, but none have come close to replicating the Vaporfly. Because the shoes have generated so much controversy (along with multiple world records), the governing body of running competition, World Athletics, originally seemed poised to ban the shoes from competition, including the Tokyo Olympics. Instead, they spared Nike the death penalty and just restricted the thickness of the shoe’s sole to 40 millimeters, limited shoes to a single carbon plate and mandated that all shoes used in competition must be available to the public. This will keep the Vaporflys fully legal for competition, including Nike’s new prototype Alphafly that could be released any day now.
At the end of the day, World Athletics probably got it right. Innovation is good for the sport and the running community as a whole, because many of the features of the Vaporfly have slowly made their way into everyday trainers, helping to reduce injury and improve training. At the same time, there should not be a green light to put pogo sticks on everyone’s feet. Some professional runners are in a tough spot if their sponsor’s product isn’t on par with the Vaporfly, but plenty of races have still been won by athletes without the super shoes. Rhonex Kipruto, for example, set a world record last month for the road 10K in an Adidas flat with no carbon plate. Keep in mind that the Vaporflys are only meant to last at full strength for about 200 miles. That means you are paying more than $1.00 per mile for the prospect of going 4% faster. A good video summary of the construction of the shoes and the whole affair is here. #Fly’sOpen
Minute 3: Coronavirus threatens runners and the Tokyo Olympics
Chinese runners who have been cooped up at home as the coronavirus rages have had to get creative to log their daily miles. No one has gotten more creative than amateur marathoner Pan Shancu. Confined to his apartment for days on end, Shancu was beyond stir crazy. So he measured out a tiny 8 meter loop in his living room and ran 6,000 laps for nearly five hours, covering over 50 kilometers in the process. (Did he wear Vaporflys? Is his left leg now an inch shorter than his right leg? So many questions.) Now the epidemic threatens athletes beyond China. As we reported last week, the CEO of the Tokyo Olympics expressed serious concern over the impact of the coronavirus on this summer’s games. The IOC quickly attempted to walk back those remarks and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: "We will take appropriate measures so that the preparation for the Olympic games will proceed without affecting them.” That didn’t convince USA Today which just published a piece comparing the coronavirus to the Zika outbreak prior to the Rio Olympics in 2016, entitled "Could the coronavirus outbreak in China impact the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?” #RunningCircles
Minute 4: Training table
Several nutrition stories this month have caused us to tweak our grocery lists. US News weighed in with a good piece for those interested in reducing sugars and carbs: “Paleo vs. Whole30: Which Is Better?” We’re not strict adherents to either school, but we draw from elements of both. We also liked this story: “Intermittent fasting is the best diet for weight loss, but the Mediterranean diet is easier to stick to and healthier overall.” Finally, we salivated over “20 Healthy 500-Calorie Dinners You Can Make in 20 Minutes.” If you’re training hard, the 500-calorie thing may not be realistic, but the taco-stuffed sweet potatoes are definitely going in our rotation this weekend.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
The Boston Marathon will ditch the tradition of “ladies first” this year. Fear not, Emily Post and Title Nine devotees, this is a positive move for the elite female athletes who travel from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. The elite men will start before the elite women this year to avoid the spotlight being stolen from the top women. With the switch, the men’s winner should finish just under 30 minutes before the first woman, giving the press and spectators enough time to gear up for a second celebration. Des Linden, the 2018 champ, is a fan of the move, “I’m excited about the new start times. The B.A.A. has taken industry-leading steps to ensure our safety and a world-class experience. I am especially excited about the additional coverage in the final miles — all the world’s eyes will be on us as we head for the finish in Boston,” she said. The move also removes the controversy from 2018 when three women from the main pack cracked the top 15 by chip time. The BAA initially denied those three women their prize money because they hadn’t run in the elite wave, but reversed the decision after a public outcry.
You may have missed your chance to run Boston this year, but there is still hope for the three big fall marathons in the U.S. Mark your calendar for the Marine Corps Marathon lottery that is open from March 18-31. The NYC Marathon lottery closed this week, but they still have some charity bibs available if you are willing to pester your friends and neighbors for donations. This is a big year for New York as it celebrates its 50th anniversary since 55 runners finished the race in 1970. Likewise, Chicago still offers some charity spots.
Saidi Juma Makula and Dominic Korir turned in the top times in the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon, respectively, last weekend, but the most inspiring performances came much further back in the pack. Led by Miami Beach firefighter Claudio Navas, more than 250 first responders walked the marathon distance in full gear to bring awareness to PTSD. Navas planned the walk to honor his friend, Danny Alvarez, a firefighter who passed away in 2014. Research has found that up to 30 percent of first responders may suffer from PTSD due to the stressful nature of their work.
The Millrose Games have been the premier indoor track and field meet in the United States for over a century. The 2020 edition produced drama of historic proportions earlier this month. The final 90 minutes of the session featured three new American records, a new American high school record and a scintillating final 400 meters of the headline event of the meet, the men’s Wanamaker Mile. Reigning world champ Donavan Brazier set the first US record in the men’s 800, blitzing the field to run 1:44.22, covering the final 200 meters in an insane 24.89 seconds. High school senior Nico Young mixed it up with the pros and delivered a 7:56.97 in the 3,000 meters to break Drew Hunter’s record set in 2016. Young and Brazier served as a warm-up act for Elle Purrier who had the performance of the meet, running the second-fastest indoor mile ever in 4:16.85. The last record of the day went to the always steady, Ajee Wilson who ran 1:58.29 to better her own American record.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Elle Purrier’s new indoor American mile record broke a mark set back in 1982 by Mary Decker Slaney. Purrier’s life story is a made-for-Hollywood script, having grown up on her family’s dairy farm in Vermont, milking cows at 5:00 am before school. The video of her win is wicked awesome, as we say in northern New England. For those with short attention spans, scroll ahead to the 3:45 mark of the video to watch the dramatic bell lap.