On the evening of May 4, 35 participants raced in the fourth annual McDonald’s Five Miler, an event hosted by the Wilfrid Laurier University cross-country team. Challenging the strength of their legs as well as their stomachs, participants must run four kilometres from Waterloo Park to the King Street McDonald’s, consume one Big Mac combo, and run four kilometres back.
The idea came from Queen’s University, where the first McDonald’s Five Miler was started five years ago. When Brent Meidinger — who was, at the time, on the Laurier cross-country team — heard about the event, he decided to bring it to Laurier. Now a Laurier alumnus, Meidinger has coordinated the event for all four years.
“The vision is to expand and have a bunch of them across Ontario and, who knows, even nationally,” Meidinger explained.
Currently, the event is still informal, as it isn’t sanctioned by the city. With this in mind, Meidinger noted that this year saw a good turnout of participants. Half of these were varsity runners who were racing competitively. But Meidinger said that around ten were non-runners, who just wanted to complete the challenge.
“They just decided that they wanted to try it and see if they could finish the race,” he continued. “Which was awesome, because that’s sort of what we’re going for. We want it to be accessible to lots of people.”
Even so, Jonathan Gascho, a member of the cross-country team who has participated in the event for the past four years, said that this year was more competitive.
“Every year before this I’d won the eating portion of the event,” he explained. “This year I had three people beat me…Part of it was I was a bit slower this year, but one guy just completely destroyed it.”
Gascho’s eating time was 3:06, while the top eating time was 2:45.
“It rewards you for your other talents as well,” he said. “There are some very good runners in that race who I have no business beating in an actual race. But when you combine it with [eating], they don’t always translate over to that.”
He noted that the uniqueness of the event makes a lot of people nervous about signing up.
“They don’t think they can do it,” he said. “It’s a real challenge of your inner strength. I think that people underestimate what they’re able to do.”
Gascho reinforced the accessibility of the event, saying that it is “totally possible” and rewarding. The event incurred $85 in proceeds, which was donated to the Kenyan Kids Foundation.
“We had a great turnout, lots of spectators, and everybody had fun,” concluded Meidinger. “So I really couldn’t be more happy with how it went.”