Jones Bros 5-kake Cupcake Challenge: Recap

Well, we did it. We went to Omaha and ran a 5k, eating cupcakes at every mile. I know that my “12×12” page has claimed that my October race is the Tulsa Run on 10/27…but it lied. You see, the original plan was to go to Tulsa, visit Scott’s friend from college, and TOTALLY ROCK a 15k. Then, of course, my lack of training momentum made the idea of running 9 miles unpalatable. Then, we realized that 10/27 was STATE XC WEEKEND, and Scott’s friend (a coach) would be unavailable/distracted. Then, Scott discovered this interesting little race in Omaha:

The JONES BROTHERS 5-KAKE CUPCAKE CHALLENGE.

The premise: run a mile, eat a cupcake…run a mile, eat a cupcake…run a mile, eat a cupcake…run the last 1/10 of a mile. It sounded zany and different, and in month 10 of my “run a race every month” challenge, the CUPCAKE challenge was very appealing indeed.

So, we ditched the Tulsa idea, and instead concocted a plan to “go to Omaha, run the cupcake race together, and leave the toddler with his Grandma for his first-ever overnight stay without mom or dad.” We were very nervous about this…mostly about going somewhere without the young man. Would LilRunr be OK? Would he be able to sleep? Would he be super sad and miss us too much to have fun at Grandma’s? Would we scar him for life…all for the sake of a weekend alone?

I’ll skip to the end of that story — LilRunr was just fine. He spent the weekend playing with his grandma, grandpa, uncle, aunt, and cousin. Oh, and his uncle’s two dogs, one of which he got to TAKE FOR A WALK and HOLD THE LEASH ALL BY HIMSELF. He went to a parade, a park, and got to play outside with BUBBLES. He had someone to play with, read books to, talk to, or just generally pay attention to him all weekend long. It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Little man was just fine.

So, off LilRunr’s parents went to Omaha. Aw, what the heck, I’ll skip to the end of this story, too: I like Omaha!

Our first stop was the cupcake shop of the race sponsor, Jones Bros, for packet pickup. I learned that there would be no official timing for the race and immediately started complaining to Scott. He reminded me that it was a CUPCAKE race, that it was the first year for it, and to stop for a minute and imagine the complexity of trying to time a cupcake race that starts in waves.

I stop. I think about it…and the cupcakes. Yes, I’ll trade an “official time” for free cupcakes. Deal. Let’s go!

Before we can get to racing, however, Husband and I had a day to spend in Omaha. Our hotel was in the Old Market area, so we decided to browse the shops. Thank you, Omaha…roughly 1/3 of our Christmas is DONE. Wowsa.

Next, we went for a little 2-mile run around downtown Omaha. Scott took a picture of me on one of the pedestrian bridges.

Pre-race workout.

Something strange happened to us at the end of this run. We were passing a park, and a disheveled, unshowered man who was almost certainly under the influence of something asked us if we were part of a running club. We told him no and kept running, but I have been RACKING MY BRAIN trying to figure out what the point of that question was. Why did he want to know? Did he think we were running celebrities? Has he always dreamed of joining a running club? Dear sweet goodness…WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THAT ALMOST CONVERSATION? I will never know.

After the run, we headed back to Old Market to try out Trini’s Mexican Restaurant. This place caught our eye while we were shopping, and we were not disappointed.

At Trini’s

Then, at long last, it was race morning. We headed for Stinson Park, where a Farmer’s Market slightly confused us. Um…where is the start? Which way are we running? How do we know where each “wave” starts? And where is the starting line again?

45 minutes later (and 5 minutes past the scheduled start time for the race), we were none the wiser. There were approximately 600 runners milling around, but there was no clear order and no announcements made. We were having some trouble dealing with the disorganization. We wanted ORDER! We wanted CLEARLY LABELED SIGNS FOR THE STARTING WAVES! We wanted TO BE IN THE 1st WAVE, BECAUSE 90% OF THE OTHER RUNNERS WERE CLEARLY NOVICES THERE TO WALK AND JOG IN BETWEEN EATING CUPCAKES!

Waiting for the start of the race.

We waited, instead. What we probably should have done was move to the front of the pack, because the three of us really were among the fastest entrants. Instead, we attempted to honor the arbitrary “starting wave” system, and ended up leaving the starting line in Wave 3.

Running, running, running…

The race was an out-and-back on a greenway trail, and within minutes Scott, our friend Eric, and I were passing people in Wave 2. We spent a lot of the first mile running off of the trail (and, I think, seriously aggravating the people who were there for a brisk walk to get cupcakes). Surprisingly, my first mile split was 7:05. That’s not bad! I surveyed the table of mini cupcakes, which seemed to range in flavors from chocolate, to vanilla, to strawberry, to…miscellaneous? The volunteer working the cupcake station warned, “some of them have wrappers!” Yikes.

I approached the first cupcake station like I would a water station in any other race…that is, I grabbed a cupcake and tried to keep rolling. One bite in, and I reevaluated my approach. Wow, is that a lot of sugar. I stopped, and managed to choke down about half the cupcake in 25 seconds. Scott and Eric began heckling me — “c’mon, Megan, people are passing us!” “Finish it, finish it, finish it.” No fair. Eric is the fastest eater of anyone I know. I’m pretty sure he ate the entire cupcake in one bite. Scott wasn’t too far behind, so after making them wait another 10 seconds, I took my remaining cupcake on the run.

The second mile, we started dealing with the return traffic that is the bane of an out-and-back course. Before I knew it, we were approaching cupcake station number two. Eric started wondering if he could eat TWO cupcakes, while I had even more trouble with the second than the first. Water would’ve helped. The third mile, I felt like I was mostly breathing frosting. Delicious, delicious frosting.

Cute, huh?

The last cupcake station was at mile 3. I grabbed one final cupcake. Surprisingly, it was the easiest of the three to eat.

It still makes me giggle. Running + dessert? Silly.

Then, I was finished. Final time (with cupcake stops)? 24:37. Goooooo us! The Cupcake Challenge was a lot of fun, and I hope they do it again next year.And I know it was just for fun, but I can’t resist a few suggestions that would make next year even better:

  1. Ask people to submit their goal time. If you’re going to attempt to have waves at the starting line, it’s much more logical to arrange people by time, rather than by the date they registered. It makes it safer for everyone.
  2. Mark the starting area with signs so people know where to line up. It’s hard to guess where “wave 3” starts and “wave 2” ends. Signs marking the different waves would help everyone.
  3. Try making the course a loop, rather than an out and back. That many people on a bike path makes for trouble.
  4. Water at the cupcake stations. Enough said.
  5. Label the gluten free cupcakes. I heard from someone else that gluten free cupcakes were provided, and this is FANTASTIC for those with sensitivities, but it would have been easier for them if the cupcakes were labeled.

PS Thanks for the free actual-sized cupcakes in addition to the three free mini-cupcakes during the race. You rock, Jones Bros!

PPS Those cupcakes were delicious.

PPPS I think this is going to become a tradition. Who’s in for next year?

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