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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Sodexo Sprint Challenge

Photo by Jordan Johnson
Martz Martinez ate at all of Marquette’s dining halls in one day to complete his very own Sodexo Sprint Challenge.

It all began winter of 2017. Some friends and I were trying to determine if it would even be possible to eat at all eight meal swipe options in one day. Mathematically, it would have been very difficult. Not only would you have to devote an entire day to eating, but you would have to possess the constitution to withstand the full breadth of Sodexo food in a 24-hour span. The group of us determined collectively that any effort toward this would require great strength.

The end of the year came and went. The summer did bring a new development to the plan, however: Marquette announced that McCormick dining hall would be open 24 hours during the 2017-’18 school year, rather than 6-12 a.m. This expanded the challenge to a wider range of available time and made the whole process more mathematically feasible. With that, I resolved that it had to be done. With junior year around the corner, I was running out of time to use the meal plan while I still had it.

On April 12, 2018, the challenge was attempted.

The course was meticulously plotted, meaning it was literally written on the back of a napkin at 2 a.m. The logical choice would be to go to McCormick at midnight, or as soon as possible, to get the first of the eight meals in, then follow that up with coffee and food from the Brew at the AMU and breakfast at Cobeen before my 11 a.m. class. Afterward, I would immediately try to eat at Marquette Place at the AMU, Straz Tower and Mashuda in rapid succession. Then, I would follow that up with a trip to the Annex for the weekly meal swipe and finish with a bang: chicken parmesan from Schroeder.

Of course, even the best laid plans run into complications.

In the wee hours of the morning April. 12, the challenge commenced. At 1:00 a.m., McCormick was serving chicken stir-fry as the main course. I got a plate of that and, determined to remain true to life, I got a bowl of Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs to go with it. So far, so good.

The plan was modified when I accidentally overslept through my 8 a.m. alarm. It caused me to miss coffee and food at the Brew and breakfast at Cobeen. The challenge was already in jeopardy.

I went to class and then straight to the AMU. I had to make up for lost time. I now had to fit seven meals into 10 hours. Unfazed, I got chicken tenders from the grill. Talk about a day to get lucky: I ended up getting 4 chicken tenders instead of 3.

Next stop was Cobeen. It had a Puerto Rican special that just looked too good to refuse. I ate pernil (a traditional dish of pork shoulder), arroz con gandules (rice with peas) and platanos (plantains).

After that, I had the token stir-fry from Straz. It was the first time I had been in Straz’s dining hall since the first week of my freshman year, and I remembered why soon after that.

At this point, I was four meals in and hated every minute of it. My stomach was constantly churning and my head was starting to pound. No matter how I positioned myself, I was in incredible discomfort. The dichotomy was ridiculous: I wanted to go work out for like three hours, but I also wanted to sleep. I still had five hours of food left, and my stomach was hanging the “No Vacancy” sign already.

I fought through it and found myself at Mashuda. I had worked out in my head that Mashuda would be easy because I could give myself a small break and get the chicken pot pie — infamous for not being very filling, as it used to be phyllo dough over chicken soup. As it turns out, they now make it with biscuits … very … thick … biscuits. My supposed break had turned into a harrowing challenge itself.

My condition worsened, and I was really not prepared for the next three meals. I begrudgingly ordered the meal swipe wings at the Annex and asked for a pitcher of water. I valued every second between the time I ordered and the time the meal arrived.

The struggle to finish the fries at the Annex was one of the most tremendous Pyrrhic victories of my life. At this point, I didn’t want to eat for another week, but I had about 90 minutes to finish two more meals. The Brew was the easiest by far. Deciding to take it easy on myself, I resolved to get some hard-boiled eggs and English Breakfast tea. This was just a warmup for the challenge to come.

When it comes to apt comparisons, I think that equating the chicken parmesan from Schroeder with Mount Kilimanjaro is appropriate. I have never finished a full plate of the thick bramble of noodles that the poultry rests on, even with an empty stomach. I planned it this way, but I’ll never figure out why I made this the final stepping stone on the sprint.

At this point, I could feel a thick casing of Sodexo around my heart and lungs. My eyelids felt heavier than ever, my stomach was begging me a reprieve and my joints were aching. I had come too far to turn back. There was only one outcome worse than eating eight meals at that point, and that was eating seven and falling short of daylight. So, I picked up my fork and began to chip away at it.

I got the chicken parm at about 9:20 p.m. I finally finished it at 10:15 p.m.

I finished the Sodexo Sprint in a grand total of 21 hours and 15 minutes.

How did I feel after it? Proud? Accomplished? Cathartic?

I felt horrible. I would not advise anyone to ever try this. I had a fleeting moment of happiness that it was finally over at 10:16 p.m., and after that, felt just pure pain. The people there began congratulating me, but I told them not to. Congratulations are reserved for victors.

I merely survived.

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