Wootton High School senior Cedric Dana arrived at the Walter Johnson High School track at 2:00pm on Saturday. He put $10 in the empty water jug used for the charity collection, got his hands marked to indicate that he paid, and joined his friends on the bleachers. In the mean time, event organizer, WJ junior Rafi Moersen entertained reporters from the local channel 4 news team. Volunteers sold t-shirts and employees of the local RnJ Sports Emporium helped to set up the starting area.
The crowd steadily grew to over 200 people and the money jugs filled up quickly, as everyone wanted to be a part of the craze that is The Burrito Mile.
When the caterers from Qdoba arrived, most participants lined up for a burrito purely out of curiosity, unsure exactly what they were getting themselves into. But Dana knew exactly what was about to happen. He was a participant in a similar event entitled the 4x8urrito in June of 2006. It was during this event, where participants ate a burrito for speed and raced 800-meters with their partner's burrito as a baton, that he made his eating skills known to the world. He shocked audiences when he devoured his 1.5 pound Chipotle burrito in 1:40. This time, he wanted to prove without a doubt that he is the greatest eater/runner there is.
Moersen was also involved with previous burrito-running events and suggested that his school host a burrito mile in their efforts to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Initially the school agreed, but then decided that it would be best if they were not involved. Moersen, an active member in the local running community continued to organize the event, inviting nearly 1,000 people to attend via thefacebook.com. He was able to get the local Qdoba restaurant to supply discounted burritos on site and get free t-shirts and giftcards from RnJ Sports.
Sam Epstein, an employee of RnJ Sports says, "RnJ is all about supporting the local running community, as well as eating. Through a separate business of owner Bob Scherf, we created and screenprinted the tee shirts sold at the event at no charge to the Burrito Mile organizers."
Moersen pulled the crowd down to the start line at 2:30 for the beginning of the freshman and sophomore race. Whitman High School freshman Andrew Palmer had hear about such competitions happening previously, but he knew there would be more emphasis on eating this time. He expected more competition from his buddy Brandt Silver-Korn who was trash-talking before the race, but Palmer was the first competitor out of the consumption zone in a time of 2:38. He then ran a 4:53 mile for a total time of 7:31. This was a new world record and stood to be the fastest time of the day for a single burrito race.
Says Palmer, "It was definitely alot of fun. I will definitely do it as many times as they have it."
Next on the track was the high school juniors and seniors. Gaithersburg High School junior Oscar Zelaya had been one of the first people to arrive. He was determined to particpate whether his teammates were going to join him or not. Luckily, Gaithersburg senior Sam Boimov showed up to compete alongside him. Boimov was held back by slow team members at the 4x8urrito, where he was forced to start eating when most relay teams were already done. Also at the starting table was WJ senior Jared Schneider, who has a 4:26 mile to his credit, and Damascus senior Darcy Hayes, one of many brave girls to compete.
Once the race began, it was Zelaya who was done eating first. His eating time of 2:27 was the fastest of the day up through that point. Not long afterwards, Boimov, a more talented runner, was off to chase down Zelaya. It wasn't long before Boimov passed Zelaya and cruised to a victory in 8:27.
Meanwhile, Hayes was able to consume her burrito in 3:52 before running a 6:45 mile to finish in 10:37. At that point, that was the new world record but she would only keep that record for a few minutes because of a talented college girl lined up at the table for the open burrito mile race.
The open race was for anyone who did not go to high school but did not want to eat 2 burritos in the elite race. This consisted of several Montgomery County Alumni such as Churchill High School graduate Anwar Fikri, and Wootton High School graduate Brielle Dana. Brielle is the older sister of Cedric. Cedric says that she was the one who really started the strange eating habits within their family. Brielle decided to attend upon Cedric's suggestion but she really didn't know how she would do.
Some parents also chose to participate. Rafi Moersen's father, Leo Moersen showed his support for his son by taking part in the action. He commented after the race, "Eating it fast was tough, but a sip of water with every bite made a big difference. I don't think it affected my run a lot because my time was just as slow as my normal pace - about 7:55."
As the race drew near, people began shouting about the eating talents of Ian Chow. Chow, lined up at the table in blue jeans, was not a talented runner as he freely admitted, but he felt that he could eat his burrito in under 1 minute. When the race began, he immediately put away half of his burrito with gigantic bites. He slowed down just a bit as the race clock went up over 1 minute, but his mouth was clear and he began running after 1:24.
With all of the hype around Chow and the man participating in swim flippers and a large cow outfit, most people did not notice that Brielle Dana was making serious progress on her burrito. She was off and running after 3:00. She easily ran down Chow with a 6:46 mile, to win the race outright in a new world record time of 9:46.
Next up was the main event: the Elite 2-Burrito Mile in which participants had to consume two 1.5 pound burritos and then race a mile. Up until that point, there was surprisingly very little vomiting going on, but that was about to change.
Cedric Dana was the favorite to finish eating first, but there were others who could possibly chase him down with a faster mile if they could eat fast enough. The new 3200m state champion Will Palmer from Whitman High School placed 2nd at the first burrito mile and won an ice cream mile race previously. Nick Bax, a junior from St. Alban's High School was a Washington Post All-Met athlete last cross country season and has often boasted of his burrito-eating abilities. Marcelo Morinigo became a local hero when he devoured 3 Chipotle burrito in one sitting.
When the race began, Dana took the lead from the start, but Palmer also remained very focused on putting away the burritos. Cedric gorged his way through two burritos in just over 5:00. 1 minute later, an unknown competitor flew out of the consumption zone. Nearly two minutes passed before Palmer completed his burritos in 7:56. Palmer needed a miracle to win the race with Dana 3 minutes ahead of him, but he was in great shape for 3rd place. Ben Yezer shortly followed Palmer in 8:18 and Mat Abernethy completed eating in 10:29. Abernethy would make up the 2:11 gap to run down Yezer with a 4:51 mile.
Dana had no problem winning the race with a mile time of around 5:00. His finishing time was 10:03, a world record for 2 burritos. Says Dana, "The burritos affected my running towards the end. I started to gag a little bit. A little stuff came out." But he did not slow down. He says that he kept pushing because, "I'm no wuss."
The mystery runner who placed 2nd in 11:41 was Washington D.C. resident Vaghuan Obrien. He said that he heard about the race from his brother who saw the notice posted on the letsrun.com message board. He liked the idea and came out to help the cause.
Palmer finished 3rd in 12:56, but he says he's not disappointed. "I wasn't really shooting for a time. After two laps I was just hoping that nothing would come up because I started to feel it in my stomach."
Two females from Richard Montgomery High School, Luyang Liu and Monica Delizo decided to enter the 2-burrito event. Delizo said that she ended up in the race accidentally because she thought the rules were different. She decided to participate anyways because she knew she could eat alot despite her small frame. Says Delizo, "The best comment I heard while eating was when some kid said, 'that burrito is bigger than her!'" She continues, "I think my biggest worry was that I wouldn't be able to eat the burritos fast enough. Puking was not something that crossed my mind too much." She went on to finish both burritos and the mile in a total time of 24:16, a new female world record for 2-burritos.
Says the younger Moersen, "I believed this event showed us who the n00bs and who the pwn3rs truly are." The event, which was part of a county-wide competition to see who could raise the most money for charity, brought in $1,750. The Walter Johnson student government will find out who wins during the 2nd week of March.
The event was a huge success and very enjoyable for all of those in attendance. Leo Moersen described the event as great. "I sure saw a lot of laughs and smiles out there."