This is it, Marathon Day. Also, it’s the final part of RunDisney’s Goofy Challenge – 39.3 miles over two days.
Yup. You read correctly A marathon and a half – 24 hours apart. Goofy it is.
We started off with the same routine as for Saturday’s half. We woke at 2 am and were again on the first bus out of the Saratoga Springs resort. Once at EPCOT, we walked to the holding pen and camped out on the exact same bench we used the previous morning. We like routine.
We were nervous about running a marathon one day after completing a half. But we were ready. After all, we were Goofy.
A little pre-race silliness with my Jennifer
Soon enough, we checked our bags, hit the bathrooms and walked to the corrals. We had a fourth crew member in tow until we reach Corral A. Our friend Ray was gearing up to run his fourth Disney marathon, with a goal of 3:40. More on Ray’s journey later. He went to the front of the corral with the speedy speedsters.
Aaron, Jen and I sat and stretched near the back of Corral A. We were there about an hour before the 5:30 a.m. start. Better early than late – I learned that in 2012 when we barely made it to our corral before the start of the Princess half marathon. Holy moly! Not the way to start a distance run, for sure.
After a quick pit stop in the woods (classy girl I am) I returned to the corral with time to spare and an extra surprise – bramblies on my lulu running skirt and inside my underwear. Sigh. Fortunately I had enough time to remove the burrs, but what a cluster! That could’ve been a fatal error.
Soon enough, fireworks sounded and the race was underway!
The day’s forecast called for extremely hot and humid weather, so we decided to slow our pace and to hydrate as much as possible.
We ran and ran and ran. This year’s marathon course was different. Like previous years it passed through all four Walt Disney World theme parks, but for the first time runners also zipped along the speedway and spent several miles on the heavenly fields at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Aaron ran the marathon (his first) last year so he outlined some of the differences as we ran.
I won’t rehash our journey mile by mile, especially since much of our first hour was a repeat of Saturday’s run. But I’ll say there’s no race like a Disney race, which includes characters, floats and thousands of cheering spectators as you ran past some of the places where you made some amazing childhood memories.
But here are a few of my fave pics:
Jen, Aaron and me in front of the castle
Running THROUGH Cinderella’s Castle
stunning fog and sunrise on the golf course – again
As we approached the speedway, a flashing sign warned “STEEP HILL AHEAD.” Not something a marathoner ever wants to see. We laughed off the warning, since we couldn’t imagine anything to warrant such a dramatic sign. We were WRONG. Ouch.
Soon we were rewarded with the sunrise over the speedway, which was lined with all sorts of vintage cars, sports cars and characters from the movie Cars. Awesome!
After leaving the raceway, we passed the waste water treatment plant (shudder) and came across a gaggle of villains. Jen and I jumped in line to pose:
Jen and I pose with the villains!
Miles 12 and 13 sent us through Animal Kingdom. It was my first time inside the park and it did not disappoint. I met some goats as we entered the park:
(Me and a goat)
And we ran into RunDisney’s marathon training expert Jeff Galloway who graciously smiled as I snapped his photo:
Yep, that’s Jeff Galloway!
Everest! My first glimpse inside Animal Kingdom
At our halfway point, we returned to our run-walk-run plan for the remainder of the marathon. We paused around mile 15 to visit some gravediggers. HAHA!
It was wonderful to get off our feet, even for a few seconds
We made our way to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, where we received a lovely drenched sponge at an aid station that put some pep in my step. We ran through soccer fields, baseball fields, the track and ultimately rounded the basement in Champion Stadium. That pleasure was wasted on me because I kept obsessing over the possibility of getting rocks in my shoes here. Ah well.
Soon enough, we approached the 20-mile spectacular, in which several oversized puppet-type characters lined the street and classic Mickey, Minnie and Pluto were on hand for runners to meet. Just before we rounded the corner, Jen suggested the event should include money or free park tickets to indeed qualify as spectacular. HA! Nothing compared to that suggestion, but we danced our way past the celebration.
dancing our way through Mile 20
Miles 21 and 22 took us past the little Green Army Men to Hollywood Studios, where we received chocolate at an aid station, zipped through the backlot and the tour tunnel and wound our way through the park and out the gates.
In the backlot tunnel at Hollywood Studios
Running down the streets of America at Hollywood Studios
Still running through Hollywood Studios
I high-fived a slew of spectators outside the park. Boy did that feel fantastic!
We ran and we walked. We zigged. We zagged. Now repeat. We passed the Boardwalk and entered EPCOT.
One mile to go! We zipped past the world showcase, passing France, Morocco, Germany and loads of other runners and we headed toward Spaceship Earth, the gospel choir and the FINISH LINE!
Nearly at the finish with Jen
We crossed together — and I high-fived Goofy!
I still cannot believe we ran a marathon and a half over the course of a weekend. But we did and I had the time of my life.
It was incredibly hot, so we took it easy, finishing in 5:31. Well over our expected time, but we didn’t care in the slightest. We finished and we stuck together and that was our true goal. I’d love to do it again and let her rip… 2014 perhaps?
(NOTE: I promised a recap on Ray’s race: He finished in under 4 hours, but walked a bit, something he doesn’t like to do when racing. But the heat was a factor and he listened to his body.)
From left, Aaron, Ray, Vic and Jen