America's craziest food races

Over indulging in sweets and then participating in a running race sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

But there is a growing breed of sporting event that claim athletes just may run a little faster for a Twinkie, a piece of chocolate, or maybe a slice of pizza.  (Or it could go the other way and leave people with a queasy stomach.)

Runs that incorporate food, and many that are for a good cause, are popping up across the country.  So we compiled the most fun, inventive, and delicious races we could find.

Twinkie Run - Ann Arbor, Mich.

This is a 5k run/walk ($10-$17.50) centered around tasty cream filled cakes. Participants will complete two loops around Gallup Park and can eat a Twinkie before each loop. For every Twinkie you eat, a minute is knocked off your final time. Co-race director, Suzanne Ross said about 75 percent of racers eat at least one Twinkie, and over 300 Twinkies are ordered. The race, which is on April 1 this year, is open to all ages and there is even a 5K-relay option for younger participants.

All proceeds from the run are donated to research labs working on cures and treatments for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS for short.

“We have had people who have ALS come to watch. We want people to know there are people who care out there. People make donations in honor of their loved ones, and you don’t have to know someone with ALS to come,” said Ross.

Discounted registration is available online or you can sign up the day of the race. Top finishers will enjoy an awards ceremony, and everyone is welcome to enter the homemade Twinkie contest.

Click here for more.

“Our emphasis is on fun and you don’t need to worry about if you’re fast or fit."

— Diane Chesla, race organizer at The Chocolate Race

Mud & Chocolate Half Marathon and 4.5 Mile Runs - Redmond and Sammamish, Wash.

This trail course at the scenic Redmond Watershed Park in April and November offers serious and casual runners of all ages a chocolate race to remember. Whether you choose the 4.5mile course ($35) or the challenge of a half marathon ($50) you’ll get to experience Chocomania. Runners get to enjoy chocolate truffles, chocolate cupcakes, and chocolate chip cookies following the race.

“For Chocomania we go all out. We always have a bunch of different types of chocolates,” race organizer Nina Church said.

And how about eating chocolate during the race? There will be two chocolate aid stations with Chocolate Luna bars, Chocolate Energy Gel #9, and other chocolate snacks so half marathoners can refuel during the race.

All racers will get chocolate medals and the first place male and female runners will receive a high-end chocolate prize. If you want to participate in the Mud & Chocolate Race and are from out of town then make it a destination trip. Church says her races attract runners from Alaska, Wisconsin, Canada, and the East Coast. Registration can be done online, and Church advises signing up at least two months in advance. Click here for more.

The Chocolate Race - Port Dalhousie, Canada

For a trip outside the United States that will give you your chocolate fix put this April 29 run on your calendar. Sign up for a 10 mile ($65), 10k ($60), or 5k ($50) run along the waterfront of Port Dalhousie, and have fun eating chocolate during the race. Chocolate aid stations will be set up along the course so runners can recharge with strawberries and chocolate fondue.

“Our emphasis is on fun and you don’t need to worry about if you’re fast or fit,” said race organizer Diane Chesla.

At the finish runners are brought chocolate milk and chocolate croissants. If you’re still craving more chocolate you won’t be disappointed. There will be a Willy Wonka themed chocolate festival for runners, which features chocolate truffles, chocolate brownies and chocolate martinis. You’ll have register for the race in advance online and proceeds are donated to charity.  Click here for more.

The Doughman - Durham, N.C.

Durham’s premier quadrathalon combines running, swimming, biking, and of course eating. Teams of four will have two people run (1.75-2.5 miles), one bike (10 miles), and one swim (water activity equivalent to a lap). The challenging part is consuming a meal before your leg of the race.

“It’s not a volume-eating contest. The meal sizes are proportionate to a meal size or smaller,” race organizer Emily Egge said.

After each leg all the members will consume a dessert food and have a short sprint to the finish. Registration for the race, which is on May 26, costs $150 dollars per team, and all the money goes to charity. Teams are encouraged to raise funds for the non-profit SEEDS, which teaches people to care for the earth. Teams who raise $250 get two minutes subtracted from their final time, and teams who raise $1000 get five minutes off their final time.

Last year’s Doughman had over 200 racers and raised over $30,000 dollars. You must be at least 18-years-old to participate, but all ages are welcome to watch the race. Spectators will certainly have a good laugh at many of the teams’ crazy costumes.

“There was a group of doctors from UNC last year that ran with hospital gowns that were open in the back, and then they wore prosthetic tooshies. Their team name was a cheek to the wind,” Egge said. Awards will be given out to the top finishing teams, and the team with the costume that best represents Durham. Click here for more

2012 NYC Pizza Run – New York, N.Y.

It’s hard to find a New Yorker who doesn't like pizza. This 2.25 mile run in Tompkins Square Park requires participants to eat a NYC slice before the first, second, and third laps.

"I think people find it fun to strategize how to run the race as fast as possible," race organizer Jason Feirman said.

Most participants are in there 20's and 30's, but the run is open to all ages. Prizes like Scott’s Pizza Tours are usually given out to the first place male and female finishers. After the race runners head to Common Ground (206 Avenue A between 12th St and 13th St) where they can socialize and enjoy a free drink.

No date has been set for this year’s Pizza Run, but it will most likely be in the summer. The registration price of about $45 will provide you with a spot in the run, a pizza gift bag, and a free drink at Common Ground. Proceeds from the race will also be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF). Click here for more.

Corn Dog Classic - Tulsa, Okla.

Think state fair food mixed with running a 5k. The Corn Dog Classic sponsored by the Tulsa State Fair requires racers to eat cotton candy, lemonade, and a corn dog at each mile marker of the run. Almost 400 people came out to run last year. This year's race will be on Sept. 22.

“The race is extremely family oriented with a finish line party. We have some fair food available and a band playing”, spokeswoman for the Tulsa State Fair said.

After the run there will be an awards ceremony where the top runners from each age group will be recognized. Registration can be done the day of the race or online and will cost around $18. All proceeds from the race go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the United Way.  Click here for more.

2012 Hot Chocolate 15/5K - Chicago, Ill.

People from across the country head to Chicago in November to run for chocolate. Sign up on Nov. 4 for a 15K run ($65), 5K run ($48), or a one-mile walk ($48), and at the end indulge in a Ghirardelli chocolate festival.

“When you cross that finish line people are handing you Ghirardelli squares in all different flavors like truffle, caramel, and raspberry,” the race’s marketing officer David Wallace said.

Large tents are set up offering racers chocolate fondue with marshmallows, pretzels, and bananas for dipping. And on a chilly day in Chicago what’s better than Ghiradelli hot chocolate? The race and the chocolate festival are open to all ages. Children can visit the Kids Zone at the end of the race, which has face painters, bounce houses, and a band. Last year’s race brought out 30,000 runners.

“We tell people to register before hand online because the race does sell out,” said Wallace.  Proceeds from the race go to the Ronald McDonald House and other secondary charities. Both serious runners looking for marathon training and casual runners who simply love chocolate will enjoy this race. Click here for more.