Men’s cross country challenge their stomachs, speed


Above sophomore Josh Burjes feasts on chicken nuggest during the “Iron Stomach Challenge” on Nov.13 at McDonalds with the men’s cross country team.

As the bell rang at 2:55 to release students from class, some filed out to their cars to go home, to sports, to play practice, to talk to teachers, etc. But members of the men’s cross country were preparing themselves to eat thousands of calories and then run a mile as fast as they can. 

Every year at the end of their season the team has its annual “Iron Stomach Challenge.” The challenge starts at McDonalds where the men are in competition to eat the most calories. 

”At first it was fine, but then after 2,000 calories everything was hard going down. Toward the end, it was a lot harder to make sure you finish everything,” said senior Noah Arends, who ate around 3,000 calories and ran a 5:30 mile. 

One of the rules of  the challenge requires runners to eat everything they order or the leftover calories will be subtracted from their total calories eaten. 

To make the challenge even more difficult, the men are limited to 1,000 calories in drinks. 

After about 30-45 minutes of chowing down on fast food, the men headed out on the icy and snowy streets to race back to the high school. Although the weather conditions weren’t ideal for most running, Arends said the ice on the ground distracted him from his stomach. “This time it was icy out, so I was just trying to stay on my feet. Afterward I was kind of down, but during the run I had energy still.” 

Winner of this year’s challenge, junior Michael Goodenbour said it felt like running “a normal mile” and that he “didn’t feel anything.” Winning the last year he participated in the challenge as well, he had a strategy down. “Everyone threw up after cookies. Also dairy. So shakes, don’t eat that. Ice cream, don’t eat that. Blake Arends ate both cookies and a shake and threw up within 200 meters,” Goodenbour said. 

Unlike Goodenbour and Arends, freshman Colin Johnson did not have the best experience with the mile. “Every step I felt the food in my stomach,” he said. 

Goodenbour knew to stay away from a lot of greasy and sugary foods and dairy from prior experience. He opted for five McChickens, three Cinnamelts and three large Dr. Peppers. This totaled out to be 4,380 calories. 

After “eating as much as he can,” Goodenbour planned to be competitive during the mile. “Eli Smith did it too, and he got out fast. Basically, just said keep it steady and run him down at the end. That’s what happened,” he said. Goodenbour finished with a time of 5.14.

Johnson also had the strategy of eating a lot and running as fast as he could, but it wasn’t as successful as he wanted it to be. “I did not eat enough calories,” he said. “Next year I will have to eat more to win.” 

Johnson ate two buttermilk crispy chicken sandwiches, one large drink, three cookies and a larger fry. 

To determine the winner of the challenge, the men’s time in seconds was divided by their total amount of calories eaten.  

Goodenbour said he won because of his competitiveness. “A lot of guys got to around 3,000 calories and just stopped. I just kept eating because I  knew I had to eat a lot,” he said. “It puts a lot of weight on calories, so I know I needed to be close to the top in calories in order to win,” he said. 

To be eligible to win this challenge, not only do the men have to eat a lot and run fast, but they cannot go to the bathroom after they eat, and if they throw up, they are disqualified. 

Three judges were present, all part of the team, to make sure the men followed the rules and to count calories. 

Arends said one of his favorite parts of the challenge was watching the freshmen attempting to compete with the upperclassmen. “We had a bunch of freshmen who did it this year and usually we don’t have a bunch of lower classmen. Seeing them trying to eat as much as we could and make it back to the high school, a lot of them didn’t. They threw up,” he said. 

Although this challenge is a competitive event, Johnson sees it as more than that. “It is a fun way to hang out with friends,” he said. 


1st Place: Michael Goodenbour(15.99 points) 

2nd Place: Brayden Burnett (14.21 points) 

3rd Place: Kyle Westhoff (11.38 points) 

4th Place: Campbell Tressler (10.44 points) 

5th Place: Colby Cryer (10.23 Points) 

Junior Michael Goodenbour holds the trophy for winning the “Iron Stomach Challenge.”

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