Dine & Dash — A Year in Fun Races
Food Network Magazine found a year's worth of wacky races that test your endurance — and your appetite.
If you think running four miles is tough, try doing it after eating six glazed doughnuts at the two-mile mark. This event, held for the first time last January, was designed as a training run for the 2011 Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh, N.C. (Competitors at that famous seven-year-old February race have to eat a dozen doughnuts at the halfway point.) But the warm-up run was such a hit last year that organizers are making it an annual event. January 15; malonecoaching.net
While people in New Orleans are celebrating Fat Tuesday, locals in this Kansas town partake in a different Shrove Tuesday tradition: a pancake race. Since 1950, women in Liberal have been competing against a team in Olney, England, to see who will be the fastest to flip a pancake in a pan, run 415 yards on an S-shaped course while holding the pan and then flip the pancake again near the end. Right now, the score stands at 36 wins for Liberal and 25 for Olney — but who knows what will happen this year? February 21; pancakeday.net
St. Patrick's Day festivities get started early in Annapolis. On the Saturday before March 17, locals compete in a series of ale-themed contests. The main event is a relay race with teams of four carrying a pint of green beer on a tray — one-handed. (Kids can compete in a similar race with green Kool-Aid.) Competitive keg tossing is also on the lineup; the local record is held by someone who shot-put an empty half keg more than 20 feet. March 10; eastportdc.com
You don't have to eat Twinkies during this April Fool's Day race, but you get to shave two minutes off your total time if you inhale a snack cake at each of two stops along the 5K course. Race organizers say two-thirds of the 300 competitors in last year's inaugural race ate at least one cake on the run. Others waited until after crossing the finish line to treat themselves. "I ordered 500 Twinkies in preparation for the event," says organizer Amanda Mercer, "and there were no leftovers." April 1; runmichigan.com
Spots for this four-person relay race sell out within seconds during registration in February or March each year — long before the Memorial Day weekend event. Each team member must devour a meal from a local restaurant before running, biking or swimming his or her leg of the race. Organizers didn't forget about dessert: All four team members must come back together to eat treats like ice pops or cupcakes before crossing the finish line. May 26; doughman.org
No trip to New York City is complete without a slice, and this race ensures you'll have at least three while you're in the Big Apple. Each June, runners circle Tompkins Square Park four times, stopping to eat a piece of cheese pizza after each of the first three laps. If you've got your eye on one of the prizes — a pizza stone, say, or gift certificates to local pizzerias — start training now; the current record holder finished the 2.25-mile race in 14 minutes, 25 seconds! Date to be announced; nycpizzarun.com
Bastille Day Baguette Relay Race, Washington, D.C.
The French bakery Paul celebrated Bastille Day last year with a relay race that sent competitors speed-walking around the nearby U.S. Navy Memorial. The twist? Instead of passing a baton from person to person, racers handed off a baguette. More than 200 people showed up to watch the inaugural event. This year, organizers plan to add more races to the day's festivities. July 14; paul-usa.com
If you want to compete in this 10K race, you have to bake or buy a pie first — it's the official entry fee (along with $5 if you don't belong to the local running club). Everyone who completes the run gets to take home a pie. The prize for the top finisher: first pick of the pastries. If you ask us, that's way better than walking away with a race-day T-shirt. Date to be announced; steeplechasers.org
Oklahomans kicked off last year's Tulsa State Fair with a new event: the Corn Dog Classic, a fair-food race for competitive eaters. Each runner had to finish some cotton candy after mile one, a cup of lemonade after mile two and a mini corn dog after mile three. Close to 100 runners competed in last year's inaugural race, and organizers are ready to fire up their deep fryers for round two. Date to be announced; corndogclassic5k.com
Instead of the usual trek through 13.1 miles' worth of city streets, this half marathon takes athletes past 24 wineries and vineyards. At the mile-six water stop, stationed near Quivira Winery, runners can even grab a taste of Sauvignon Blanc. There are plenty of wine samples at the finish line, too. We can't prove that the promise of vino improves race times, but we're guessing it doesn't hurt. October 27; runhealdsburg.com
Greenlake Gobble & Mashed Potato Munch-Off, Seattle, Wash.
Plenty of people run a turkey trot before Thanksgiving dinner, but this challenge takes the practice to a whole new level. Runners in the 5K buy raffle tickets for the chance to enter a mashed potato eating contest near the finish line. The eight lucky people selected compete to see who can down the most mashed potatoes (sans gravy) in four minutes. November 18; promotionevents.com
Although many runners in the hugely popular Hot Chocolate Race series have asked for hot cocoa stations along the route, organizers are sticking to their plan to keep the starring drink at the end of the course — all 1,500 gallons of it — and just provide water during the morning 5K and 15K runs. Sign up early: Registration for the event opens, appropriately, on Valentine's Day. December 9; hotchocolate15k.com