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The “challenge” part of the Krispy Kreme Challenge is self-evident: run 2.5 miles. Eat a dozen doughnuts. Run 2.5 more (mostly uphill) miles. Finish in less than an hour.

But there’s a second challenge, less obvious to the race participants and the global audience that now follows the signature NC State event. For a group of 40-50 students, that six-month challenge will be winding down on Feb. 8, just as the runners start their five-mile ordeal.

Students manage every aspect of the challenge, from securing 8,000 boxes of doughnuts and coordinating with city officials to managing a corps of 150-plus race-day volunteers and disposing of all those empty doughnut boxes while producing no net waste.

Starting in August, student race directors “are constantly working with the (Raleigh) police department to get their race route secured, or they’re having to talk to people to get the date secure, or talk to people to get the bibs and T-shirts lined up,” said Brandon Honeycutt, a public relations director for the 2014 Krispy Kreme Challenge.

“It’s just exciting to see all these things come together,” said Honeycutt, a Park Scholar and sophomore agricultural business management major, “especially considering that we are a completely student-run group.”

The challenge began in 2004 as a Saturday afternoon lark for a group of Park Scholars. Their gastrointestinal thrill run has morphed into a campus tradition that’s also one of the most successful student service projects at NC State. Through the 2013 race, the challenge had raised more than $550,000 for the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.

The race’s service mission “is intimately tied to NC State’s overarching concern of giving back to the community,” Honeycutt said. “We are a land-grant, space-grant, sea-grant university, so there is this instilled sense of giving back.”

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