Flashback Fridays 12: Disney Marathon Weekend/Goofy Challenge

Note: I am running behind on my blog posts…especially “Flashback Fridays”. I will be doing a little catching up this week.


January 10-13, 2013

“Raymond Marier, you have just completed your first Ironman 70.3 Triathlon and your second marathon! What are you doing next?”

“I’m going to Disney World!!!”

Running season was over. I had come a long way. But I knew myself well enough to know that I was at risk of landing back on the couch and staying there without any big events on the horizon. Sure, Monster Dash was coming (which gave me my first sub 2 hour half marathon finish time!). The January 1st Polar Dash was also on the horizon (-30 wind chill, and I would run both a 10k and then pace a friend doing the 5k. Even with heated tents, I got very cold in the 75 minutes between those races).

I needed a winter marathon, since the next big things on the horizon were Ironman 70.3-Kansas, and Grandma’s marathon were both in June.

It was October.

Eight months.

I would not stay motivated without something big in there somewhere…especially trying to stay motivated to run in the snow and cold.

So, I started to do some research, and came across the Walt Disney World marathon. Mid-January. It would be the 20th anniversary, so it would be especially big, with a special anniversary medal. They also had a half marathon the day before. Doing the half and the full was a special challenge called the “Goofy Race and a half Challenge”.

Extra medal.

Extra shirt.

Extra cost.

…and, there was a 5k the day before. 3 days, 3 races, 4 medals/shirts. It was at a time of year that I usually go home for a visit. I could combine the two into one trip.

I would definitely need spousal consent for this one… (thanks again honey).

So, yeah, this was hitting every one of my geek buttons.

I stayed at a budget resort on the Disney property (so, I would have a free shuttle to and from the starting area…no need to mess with parking and gridlock traffic on event morning).

When I got to the resort the day before the 5k, I headed right to the expo at the Wide World of Sports facility. The expo was huge, taking up 2 buildings. First stop was getting the bibs and the shirts. Also was able to check out the Disney store (didn’t get that much this time…of course, I had just received 4 running shirts).

They also had early registration for the Dumbo Double Dare (Half marathon and 10k event in Disneyland. Doing both also got a bonus Dumbo Double Dare medal and shirt. Having done a race in Disney World during the same year would get me the Coast to Coast challenge medal. And, there was a 5k. So, 3 races…5 medals! Once again, I would need spousal consent…thanks again honey!!!). I was also able to move into coral “A” due to my sub-2 hour half marathon time!

The expo was crazy and crowded. Had fun checking it out but had to get to some carbs (hello Olive Garden!) and get to bed. I would have to be up before 2am…
Race Day 1: WDW 5k.

The shuttles would start at 3am, so I was up at 1:30. It was becoming a comfortable pre-race routine. I got on the first shuttle and headed to the staging area. Typical Disney. Lots of energy and entertainment. There were corals, but I don’t think they were to strict with the assignments. The morning was a bit of a blur and the race was suddenly about to start.

The first half of the race was boring, weaving through parking lots and back roads. I remember being nervous since the course was not well lit at points and the ground was uneven (and I had a bad foot/ankle at the time). There were photo stops, but I didn’t stop for any. I would kick myself for this later, but I felt too self conscious and awkward to get photos taken with cartoon characters (that was something kids would do!) even though I had heard that many runners did it and it was in my game-plan for the weekend.

The second half of the course was much better. We raced through a closed EPCOT Center running a lap around World Showcase and Future World before going back to the parking lot and finish line.

Finish Time: None (untimed event).

Grabbed my post race snacks and headed back to the shuttle. I had elected to spend 2 days in the parks (have not been here since I was 12). So I got changed and spent the day at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. It was a great day…but it was getting warm. Unseasonably warm. This was not an issue for an early morning 5k, but might be a problem for the next 2 races.
Race Day 2: Walt Disney World Half-Marathon

Up at 1:30. Shuttle at 3:00am. Got to the staging area. You could tell right away that this was a much bigger event. A lot more people. A lot more space. A lot more stuff. The walk from the staging areas to the corals was about 20 minutes. The corals were on a divided highway and were huge. We wore the same bib for both Goofy Challenge races. I had my new “Coral A” sticker on my bib and moved up towards the front. They kept us entertained while we waited. It was warm. It was muggy. It was foggy. But, it was just a half marathon and we were starting early. We should be off the course before it got too hot and sticky.

The race started, and the first leg was up the highway. Nice big road to keep up from getting too crowded. Along the highway, we came to our first photo stop…Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a line. I didn’t care. I was stopping for these today. It was fun and silly. I decided that I would be stopping at every single photo stop for the rest of the weekend.

The course took us past the Contemporary Resort Hotel on our way to the Magic Kingdom. Once there, were ran down Main Street USA thru Tomorrowland and back toward Cinderella’s castle and a loop thru the rest of the park. It was one big photo-op. I was stopping every few hundred yards. Some stops had very short lines and were pretty basic. Some were over the top and had monster line ups. I stopped at them all.

We ran back down the same road towards EPCOT. A few photo stops again (including another chance to stop at Pirates). The sun was up by the time we got back to EPCOT, and it was getting very warm and muggy. It was unpleasant. Fortunately, we only had a mile or so to go. Weather forecast was for more of the same on marathon day…wonderful…

We re-entered EPCOT and had a very short loop thru Future-World before leaving and crossing the finish line. Got my first real Disney medal (the 5k one was nice, but made of rubber). An abstract Donald Duck. Very cool. I would get Mickey and Goofy tomorrow to complete the set.

Finish Time: 2:42:08

Food. Shuttle. Spent the day in the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. I probably should have stayed off my feet (especially given my injury), but it just could not resist.
Race Day 3: WDW Marathon.

Up at 1:30. Shuttle at 3:00.

Same staging area as yesterday…except they had a merchandise tent. In it, they had the vinyl banners for the half-marathon, full-marathon, and Goofy Challenge that they used at the expo. $30 each. I got all 3. I originally wasn’t going to bother with bag drop, but I wasn’t going to take these back to the hotel, and in sure wasn’t going to run with them.

Same 20 minute walk to the corals. Same corals. Same entertainment. Same hot and muggy pre-dawn weather. It was gonna be a hot one.

Race started the same as the half marathon. Same road. Pirates was there again as well. Another lap thru the Magic Kingdom. I was again stopping for every photo.

Once out of WDW, we did a lap around the Disney Motor Speedway. It was nicely set up with hundreds of vintage cars (and Lightning McQueen and Mater). From there, we headed towards Animal Kingdom (passing the sewage and sanitation treatment plant along the way…yay!). Animal kingdom was great, but short. More photos. Then came the death march. We were past the halfway point and the sun and temps were climbing fast. We were on a highway and there was no shade. This went on for miles.

We finally hit mile 19 and ESPN Sports. Many complained about this, and it was a little boring, but it was better then highway and there was some shade. The mile 20 extravaganza was a bit of a letdown after all the hype. But I got my photo taken with Mickey, Donald and Goofy. They also had some interesting oversized puppet things. But, most importantly, we only had 10k to go.

The temperature was oppressive. Runners were dropping like flies. I was drinking 4 Gatorades per rest stop and wearing 4 waters. Fortunately, most of the rest of the course was pretty entertaining. Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk, and finally we reached EPCOT again. Another loop thru World Showcase and Future World. The parks were open and people were cheering (and some complaining that the race was disruptive). Out of the gates and across the finish line.

Finish Time: 6:02:17

Got my two medals. The marathon 20th anniversary medal was amazing! Grabbed my food and banners. Temp was reading 85 degrees…plus humidity. It was just past noon and I had to be checked out by 1PM. It was a mad dash to the shuttle and hotel. A very fast shower and just started dumping things into suitcases and carried it all of to the rental car. Vacated the room with 3 minutes to spare. Re-packed everything in the parking lot before leaving for the airport and home…

Note: As I noted in the last Flashback, my training was hampered by a chronic foot injury. That did affect my performance and I could definitely feel it getting worse as the weekend continued. I should not have run that weekend. I knew this injury could spell the end of my running days. I wanted to complete this challenge before hanging up my shoes. Stupid? Yep. I was flying home to see a specialist and figure out what was wrong. I was not looking forward to hearing what he had to say.

The news was worse then I feared…


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