Daniel Rubin: A race that combines running and - eating?

Andy Smith co-created Jog 'n Hog, which combines running with eating a local delicacy.
Andy Smith co-created Jog 'n Hog, which combines running with eating a local delicacy. (DANIEL RUBIN / Staff)
Posted: June 26, 2012

Andy Smith wouldn't call himself a runner. He runs.

He runs to stay healthy, to keep off weight, to remove his shirt at the beach without fear.

Three times a week, he gets to Washington Crossing State Park by 6 a.m. Winter, too. He doesn't find exercise particularly interesting. So he usually runs with a friend.

Lately, he's been adding a little spice to his regimen.

Twice he's tested himself in Tough Mudder events, which combine distance running with military-grade obstacle courses. Last year, he entered his first Krispy Kreme Challenge, the Raleigh, N.C., race where participants run two miles, eat a dozen glazed doughnuts, then run two miles more.

Andy got through 81/2 crullers; his brother, Brian, consumed 101/2.

Somewhere during their sugar high, surrounded by runners dressed like gladiators and gorillas, ballerinas, and doughnut bakers, the Smith brothers got an idea for their own gonzo event.

They'd create a series of races around the country, each featuring a little running and a little eating. The food would have to be distinctly local.

Thus was born the Jog 'n Hog, a race coming to lower Bucks County next month, which involves four miles of running and 1,680 calories of Uncle Dave's Ice Cream.

Andy Smith, 44, had a long career as head of communications at Temple University Hospital. He runs his own PR firm now from a cabin on his property by the Delaware.

Although he is not a doctor, he is pretty confident from his own experience that it is difficult to get too hurt by jogging then gorging on some of the most gluttonous food items imaginable.

In North Carolina, he quit eating the doughnuts when he found he could chew but no longer swallow. "Your body will stop you. We tell people you don't have to finish."

The Smiths held their debut race two weekends ago in their hometown, Erie, where a local delicacy is Stanganelli's pepperoni balls. Each tennis ball-size bomber is made with four ounces of dough that's stuffed with meat, then deep fried.

Contestants had to eat six of them. "That's a pound and a half of product," Andy said.

One hundred twenty runners began the race, jogging two miles before being handed a bag of warm pepperoni balls. He didn't count the number who finished successfully, but it was fewer than half.

"Some people took it very seriously," he said. "Others would start off like they were going to eat all six. They'd get through one, then keep the bag and start running back. Or they walked."

The bakery gave each runner a coupon good for a dozen more pepperoni balls - in case they were still hungry.

The Smiths decided the first Philadelphia Jog 'n Hog Race should involve Vanilla Beanie ice cream, which Dave Adami makes at Shady Brook Farm in Yardley. Each runner aims to eat a quart.

The farm agreed to host the event, which will be held July 15. As in Erie, a share of the proceeds will benefit a local charity, in this case, the Bucks County Housing Group's food pantry in Penndel.

In October, the race travels to Nashville, where contestants will have to tear through six Goo Goo Clusters, which are like those chocolate-covered turtles, made of caramel, peanut, and marshmallow.

A New Orleans event would involve Hibig's Pies. They're thinking pierogis for Pittsburgh.

I asked Smith why he didn't go for the obvious in Philadelphia - a cheesesteak. He cited logistics.

"Who would cook them? How would we keep so many hot?"

But he could see a future race involving Tastykakes. "It would perfect," he said. "I can just see handing a box of Krimpets to each runner."

At all their races, participants are showered with swag like T-shirts and "hog tags" just for competing. "We don't judge you," Smith said. It's really about having fun and seeing if you can do something that's really off the wall."

Contact Daniel Rubin at 215-854-5917, drubin@phillynews.com, or follow @danielrubin on Twitter. Learn more about the July 15 event at www.jognhog.com.

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