Friday, February 12, 2010

Run for the cookies, but look out for those Samoas

Tallahassee's annual "Run For The Cookies" 5K is tomorrow (Saturday, 12 February 2010) at 9:00am, starting from Tallahassee Community College. In addition to the usual raceday T-shirt, each entrant gets a box of Girl Scout cookies. The race was founded in 1993 by Jeanne O'Kon and Tom Perkins, who just might have been a bit desparate from trying to unload all of their daughter's Girls Scout cookies. It was a good enough idea that the race has not only been around for eighteen years, but has been imitated by the "Thin Mint Sprint" 5K races in various cities.

Surely, running five kilometers entitles you to eat a box of cookies, right?

Well, let's look at a box of Samoas, one of the two most popular cookies sold by the Girl Scouts of America. Actually, "popular" is a weak word to use for Samoas. They are addictive. NATO should be dropping cargo containers full of Samoas into the rugged borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan; after three months a unit of marines could go in with handtrucks and wheel the obese Jihadis to justice. But glancing at the nutritional information on a box of Samoas we see that the serving size is two cookies (yeah, right), and that there are seven servings in a box and 150 Calories per serving. That makes 14 cookies in the box at 75 Calories per cookie for a total of 1050 Calories.

Now it's hard to say how many Calories a runner uses in covering a mile. A heavy athlete thundering along at five minutes per mile might need over 100 calories for that mile, while a petite runner jogging at a much slower pace might use half of that. Let's come down in the middle so we can say that it's one cookie per mile. Five kilometers is only 3.1 miles, so the race doesn't put us close to "earning" our box of cookies. Of course, you'll put in a few miles doing a good warm-up and a post-race recovery jog, but you would still have only done six or eight cookies worth of running, short of the 14-cookie box. Better save some for later, or plan on another run in the afternoon.

It's actually good that you can run so far on so few cookies, otherwise distance runners would have to be eating continually, grazing like cows. Marathoners would have to run with camelbacks full of GU, and aid stations would have to pass out water, Gatorade, and cheeseburgers. So do the "Run For The Cookies" 5K on Saturday, but save some of your Samoas for later.

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