By KEVIN OKLOBZIJA
They arrived in all shapes and sizes on Thursday evening ready to run. And eat.
At the same time, of course.
The second annual Plates Mile — a brainchild of the Rochester Red Wings promotional staff — isn’t for the faint of heart. Nor is it for anyone with a weak stomach.
This extension of the never-ending Plates promotion is one part speed eating, one part athleticism and one part zaniness, with a heaping helping of Rochester binding it all together.
Entrants must run one mile through and around Frontier Field. The catch, however, is the required eating during this race. Before hitting the finish line, each contestant will have consumed four 10-ounce “trash cans,” the Wings’ on-the-go-version of a Nick Tahou’s garbage plate.
The running a mile part isn’t so difficult. And the eating of a trash can or garbage plate has never been hard for any Red Wings fan. But putting them together?
Sure, why not.
— RocSportsNOW (@RocSportsNOW) June 30, 2019
That’s what Sam Schouten of Ontario decided. Well, more like that’s what his wife, Robin, decided.
“Sam’s been training for this his whole life,” she said.
“Just not the running part,” Sam countered.
Robin was right, too. When the race began and the contestants attacked the trash-can table to consume the first helping of mac salad, home fries and meat sauce, Schouten was a first-team All-Star. He was a combination of Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi, devouring the food in what seemed like a mere 15 seconds.
Then he was off and running, arms up in the air in Rocky-like exaltation as he started the mile. He easily had a 200-yard head start on the rest of the field.
“It was an eating high,” he said.
And then reality set in. One by one, by five, by 10, competitors passed him by. Some, like Paul Dellinger of Brighton, flew by.
“I don’t run at all,” Schouten said. “Walking’s hard enough.”
Dellinger does run. Fast. Really fast. Even after eating four trash cans. The 2017 graduate of Brighton High School finished first in a time of 7 minutes, 48 seconds.
“I love garbage plates,” said Dellinger, a distance runner on Duke University’s cross country and track-and-field teams. “I usually go to Dogtown for my plates.”
We’re not sure how the coaches at Duke feel about his summer training diet. But if nothing else, he has helped the legend of the plate grow even larger.
“If the engine is hot enough, any fuel will burn, that’s what I subscribe to,” Dellinger said.
He had actually done one of these eat-and-run events over the winter, taking part in the donut run at Cobbs Hill in January. That, too, was a one-mile run, during which four donuts were consumed.
“They were big donuts,” Dellinger said.
Maybe so, but even ginormous donuts would make for easier running than the “delicacies” of a plate. The garbage/trash/rubbish/insert-your-0wn-name plate can be considered a strange concoction to begin with; now imagine what it’s doing inside the stomach during strenuous running.
“The third one was the hardest,” Dellinger said of the trash cans. “I had a hard time getting it down.”
He entered the race for the fun and the competition. But the latter was amped up a notch when he noticed two of his running friends, Henry Burton and Paul Suflita, warming up in the stadium concourse. Burton, a 2016 graduate of Pittsford Mendon, and Suflita, a 2017 Greece Arcadia grad, also run competitively in college.
“I saw them and thought, ‘OK, this is a race.’ ”
Even if there were eating requirements.
“It’s fun to put your talents to the test and throw a twist into the mix,” said Burton, who finished second.
Bridgett Hoag was the winner in the women’s category, finishing in 10:37.
For all competitors, this was one time where running did not work up an appetite.
“My family got to come down, my friends are here,” Schouten said. “It was great.”