A Race and a Half
January 9 & 10, 2010
By Mike Lesshafft
For those of you that are not familiar with the Goofy Challenge, it consists of running a half marathon on Saturday and a marathon on Sunday. If both are completed within a certain time limit, then you get a Goofy medal. Appropriately named, I must add. Well there were three of us that undertook this adventure. Dan (the Man) Wells, Brennan (All Out) Donahoe, and myself. Fortunately we all completed the challenge and lived to talk about it. Not able to walk very well, but we could talk.
Both races started at 5:40 AM. You had to get there early since they started closing some of the park roads at 5:15. I never thought I would be in a traffic jam at 4:30 AM trying to get into Disney World, but I was. There were roughly 17,000 runners in the half marathon. However, Disney is great at moving people. We easily got to the parking lot on time and had about an hour wait for the start. Since I was in Florida I thought it appropriate to wear shorts. You may recall that there was some very cold weather in early January. We had some snow, but mostly sleet and rain with 27 degree temps at the start. My attire, although not suited for the current weather conditions, gave me that true macho look. If you consider goose bumps on top of goose bumps as being macho. Or shaking uncontrollably. It was so cold, that people were stealing the plastic trash bags out of the trash cans to wear before the race. As I mentioned Disney is good at moving people, but not that good at telling us where we are going. We did not know that the start line was about a mile from the bag drop and “waiting” area. So we got about half way to the start line when the race started. Fortunately, Dan and I were not in the first of 6 waves so we were not concerned. When we completed the half marathon, we immediately went to our cars to get warm. We were back at the hotel and ready for the day by 10 AM. Although our plans only consisted of relaxing, touring the expo, and eating carbs. Early to bed was the key. However, Dan the Man and his wife went to Magic Kingdom for some excitement. Crazy.
Sunday morning was a little colder but no precipitation of any kind. Again a start at 5:40 AM, so we were up by 3:30 to get there in time. Same traffic jam (again almost 17,000 runners), same waiting around being cold, although I did wear long pants this time. Left earlier for the start, now knowing the long walk to the start. However, I did not leave early enough. I was almost to my coral when the race started. I was one coral back from the previous day, so I assumed I was again in the second or third wave to start. As I walked nonchalantly to the coral area, I waved to those in other corals that were part of the first wave of runners starting the race. When I got to my coral, it was empty. Apparently I was part of the first wave as well. I initially panicked and took off running. But I quickly remembered I was wearing a chip so my time had not started. I then walked to the start line, waving to the crowd. What a way to start a marathon. The marathon course is much more scenic than the half marathon course. We went through all the theme parks which was fun. The half marathon mainly ran to the Magic Kingdom and back. The course for both is very narrow, except on some of the major roads. I believe the course is intentionally kept narrow so they do not have bottle necks entering the parks. The course is really narrow while you are in the parks. So whatever you do, do not try for a PR during either of these races. There are way too many people to run around or through. There were many photo opportunities along the course with the Disney characters and there were a lot of runners that stopped to get their picture taken. The crowd support is remarkably large, mainly in the parks. They would be several people deep cheering for the runners. It was a great boost to your energy level.
The cost was $300 for the races themselves. Airfare was roughly $200 per person. My wife, Mary, went with me. I was not going to “sunny, warm” Florida in January without her. Boy was she surprised at the weather. Hotel about $300. Rental car $130. Meals another $100 or so. Large Awesome Goofy Medal, PRICELESS.