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I ran the Krispy Kreme Challenge with Superintendent Mark Johnson

So, I ran the Krispy Kreme Challenge with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson this weekend. This all started last year when Johnson was trying to get 95 percent of teachers in the state to respond to a working conditions survey. He was hoping to beat Kentucky, which had the highest response rate in the country with 91 percent. 

EdNC’s Mebane Rash said that if Johnson ran the Krispy Kreme Challenge, I would run alongside him. I explained the concept of “voluntold” to her. She wanted me to start running again. I just kept hoping this race would go away. 

Then at a State Board of Education meeting, Johnson publicly mentioned that I would be running with him if he took the Challenge. I could hide no more. 

When 91 percent of teachers responded to the survey, I thought I was off the hook. But it was a record-setting number for North Carolina, so Johnson decided to run the race anyway, and my fate was set. 

Saturday morning we posted up at the starting line. The race is five miles long, 2.5 miles from the Memorial Bell Tower on Hillsborough Street to the Krispy Kreme at the intersection of Peace and Person street. The Challenge is to eat 12 doughnuts at Krispy Kreme and race back. Johnson said he would eat six. When we pulled into Krispy Kreme, Johnson started chewing. As you will see in the videos below, when he finished his sixth, we started racing again. But he carried the box with him. As we headed towards the finish line, while still running, Johnson continued eating. 

As the finish line came into view, Johnson finished his 12th and final doughnut. I stand here as a witness to the accomplishment. I watched him eat each and every one, secretly hoping that maybe he would leave one for me. He did not. I ate not a single doughnut that day. 

The Krispy Kreme Challenge is a benefit for the UNC Children’s Hospital. Johnson asked people to donate a new book to the hospital for patients there as part of his participation. Here is what he said in a press release that went out after the race. 

“Since I actually completed the entire Challenge, I hope people will be even more inspired to donate a new book to UNC Children’s Hospital,” said Johnson. “I will personally deliver the books to the hospital this spring.”  

The press release also said that now that the Challenge is over, Johnson will soon be launching his NC Reads Book Drive statewide, pushing for “civic groups, schools, churches, and other organizations” to collect donated books and give them out to children in their communities. A “how to” guide will give instructions on organizing a book drive and getting the books to the right places for distribution. 

So stay tuned, and in the meantime, eat a doughnut for me. 

Editor’s Note: Along the way, Alex got serious about running, and he recently finished a half marathon. Proud.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.