In January 2014 my brother and I completed the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World. This is a challenge offered as part of their Marathon Weekend.
What’s involved? You run the half marathon on Saturday, followed by the full marathon on Sunday, for a grand total of 39.3 miles. You get a total of three medals and when people call you crazy for doing this challenge you can respond with, “Nope, we’re just goofy,” and it’s totally true.
I learned a few things from this experience and want to pass on that info to anyone who is thinking about signing up or is signed up to race next year.
Don’t be Nervous About Signing Up
I must admit that prior to signing up I was super nervous about competing in this challenge. It seemed like a huge undertaking and I was worried that a race like this was meant only for elite runners, which I am not. If you’re hesitating to sign up for any reason, let me be the first person to reassure you, the Disney races are for everyone. My brother and I met runners / walkers of all abilities, ages and backgrounds. Each had a story of how they came to be in the corrals with us that morning. Some were inspiring and some were down right hilarious (as in some lost bets, took dares, etc.). The camaraderie and enthusiasm we found there was second to none.
The race courses are so well supported that it can’t but help you succeed. The year we ran, the advertisement promised “every mile is magic”…and it was. All I can say is Disney delivered. The entertainment was done in true outstanding Disney fashion. Between character photo ops, music, cheer crowds, fireworks, posters at every mile, inspirational posters along the way, the parks themselves, it was enough distraction to make us forget how tired we were. So in a nutshell, just pick your race and go for it. You’ll love every mile.
Preparing for the Races
If you’ve signed up for a race and you’re wondering how on earth you’re supposed to prepare for it, don’t worry. The Run Disney website offers lots of support. In particular, if you look under the training tab, you’ll see training plans offered by Jeff Galloway and expert nutritional advice by Tara Gidus.
Somewhere between now and your race please consider a costume! I hadn’t even thought about dressing up for my races and after seeing all of the awesome costumes and outfits, wish I had. Choose wisely!! Some of the costumes we saw made us fearful for the runner and that chaffing destined to take place.
Don’t focus on time! These probably are not the races to run and plan on getting a PR. The race is crowded. You are most literally running with thousands of people. Plan to simply relax and enjoy the experience.
Tips for the Corrals
Be sure to send in proof of time! It can help with corral placement. That is one thing I didn’t do. Consequently, we were in the very last corral. With thousands of people running these races, it just meant that we started our race about an hour after the first corral went. I think if we had been a little further up in the corrals, I would have been a bit more relaxed about waiting in line to enjoy the character photo ops.
Before you even make it to the corrals you get to hang out in a big waiting area. There was a DJ, characters, bag check, a little shop for race day swag, food for sale, etc.
- The food costs money so bring a little cash if you think you might want an extra banana or bagel.
- I didn’t use the bag check, but in retrospect it would have been nice.
- While there, be sure to take advantage of the photographers roaming about. There are lots of them along the course, but this was a great opportunity for me and my brother to get some pictures together where we didn’t look like sweaty tired messes. As a side note, the photographers at the races were not part of PhotoPass.
Bring warm stuff to wear in the corrals. We didn’t and we were freezing. Apparently Orlando is cold at 3 am in January. LOL. This is especially true when you’re hanging out in the corrals waiting to run. If you work in the medical field, bring a sterile gown with you. I saw lots of people walking around in them. I thought it was brilliant…and biodegradable too. Another idea that seemed to be a common theme was to hit up a good will and buy some very cheap sweats for wearing in the corrals and disposing of them at the start. I believe Disney donates the clothing discarded at the start.
What to Bring
There were a few key items that I was happy to have carried with me:
- My Cell Phone – The main reason for carrying it was so that I could take pictures along the way and video the fireworks display at the beginning. My family and friends were also able to text me and cheer me on along the way. Most memorably my husband called me when I was passing mile 10 of the half marathon to genuinely ask me: “are you almost done”. If nothing else, everyone within ear shot of me who over-heard the conversation was laughing.
- My Own Nutrition – The race does provide nutrition stations along the way, but I’ve always liked to have my own available to me too.
- Extra Strong Band-Aids – Again there are aid stations, but when you need a band aid, you NEED a band aid.
- My iPod – The reality is I never used it, because I was so well entertained and immersed in the experience that I never needed it. However, it’s a good item to bring, just in case you want to listen to your running playlist to pump you up during the race.
Thank the Volunteers
Be sure to thank the volunteers! Many of them are fellow runners or family / friends of fellow runners or just awesome people that volunteered. All of them had to get up earlier than you to make it to the race!
Bring Your Support
My brother and I spent a solid year of our lives training to be able to run the Goofy Challenge and still be standing afterwards. I couldn’t have done it without the love, support and belief of my family and friends. They kept me motivated and on point every step of the way. I earned a total of three medals that weekend and after it was all over I handed one to each child and my husband and said: “There, I got one for each of ya”. I honestly felt that it was as much there’s as it was mine. As an added bonus I had people available to run to the ice machine for me and to bring me food and drinks. It took me about a day before I even wanted to move after finishing that challenge.
Our friends (Liz and her family) came with us too. It was beyond awesome having them there. They threw their belief and support behind us from day one and blew us away by joining us in Florida for this awesome endeavor and vacation. Afterwards they graciously listened to our endless chatter with all of our stories about the race, all the descriptions of the costumes, looked at all our pictures, and really are just some of the best friends anyone could ever hope for. Having everyone there to share this moment with us was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Great, so now you’ve decided to run one of the many races Disney has to offer. Races and registration can be found on www.rundisney.com. Sign up early, because popular races sell out fast!
Just remember one thing when you take part in the Marathon Weekend…have fun!
Have you ever run in one of the runDisney races?
Thanks for reading!
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