Carl's Goofy Challenge

It all began in 2005 when I was attending the Flora London Marathon expo and came across a stand advertising the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2006. My wife was thrilled at the prospect of going to Disney World but the fact that the weekend held every January consisted of a half marathon on the Saturday and full marathon the Sunday seemed all too challenging - however never say never.

The seed was planted and so the planning began. As the marathon weekend seemed to be held around my birthday I set myself (and my wife) our own challenge of being in Disney for my 40th Birthday and as 2010 approached it didn’t seem that our dream would be possible. However after a lot of researching, booking and training we took our flight out of Gatwick on Monday 3rd January to Orlando.

The first couple of days were spent around Disney finding Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck much to the delight of my sons. The weather was a comfortable 18 degrees centigrade and seemed very odd being in shorts applying sun cream at the beginning of January. Then Thursday was the day to collect the numbers for the Marathon weekend - now it was getting real. I’d also signed my sons up for the Mickey Marathon fest which meant they too would come away from this holiday with special medals.

We had to leave the house at 4.30am on Friday morning to take part in the Buzz & Woody 5K family fun run. My Wife, eldest Son Ben and myself arrived at Epcot at 5am to find music blaring, lights flashing and a car park full of eager runners. At 7am Buzz & Woody started the race that took us around Epcot with characters on route to wave us on and 55 minutes later we arrived back at the finish. With no time to spare it was back to the house to collect our youngest son Jake and my mum (who had also come on holiday with us) and headed on over to ESPN Wide World of Sport where Jake did 100m dash and Ben took part in the Mickey Mile.

One day of running down - 2 to go.

Saturday morning was an even earlier start for the Half Marathon - up and out of the house by 3.30am to be able to arrive at Epcot again for the start but this time at 5 am. After the 20 minute walk to the start I was in my corral ready to go. The fireworks set off and this was now the moment I’d been waiting on for over 5 years.
The route took me out of Epcot on the freeway to Magic Kingdom to run through the castle and back again to finish at Epcot. I completed this leg of the challenge in 1hr 48mins placing 1318 out of 21,980 finishers and got my first Medal of the weekend for completing the Donald Duck Half Marathon. The rest of the day was spent back in Magic Kingdom enjoying the Disney way of life.

First half of the weekend challenge over - one to go.

Sunday morning was an early start again being up and out of the house by 3.20am - this was becoming a habit. After a short journey along with 14,000 runners to park at the same place and arrive at the start at Epcot the morning was a cold one. The temperature had dropped dramatically and the walk to the start seemed longer than yesterday morning. It was still dark and so being able to see any Disney landmarks was difficult but as soon as the fireworks had gone off for my start corral I was on my way to Magic Kingdom. I managed to spot my wife in the crowd just before going through the Castle and heading out of Magic Kingdom towards Animal Kingdom. By the time I arrived there it was light and I ran passed the Everest ride and spotted the Tree of Life in the distance - then it was out of that park and on to Hollywood Studios. Arriving at the Backlot tour part of the park (a ride I’d been on during the week) I ran past the famous Fantasia hat which is the landmark of this park and back towards Epcot and the finish.

By the time I approached Epcot the sun was definitely out and the morning was getting warmer but luckily I’d only 2 miles to go and the crowds had gathered around the finish area as there wasn’t much opportunity before here to view the race.

I broached the final corner and couldn’t believe the finish line was in sight with Goofy and Donald Duck to greet us all back. I crossed the finish line in 4hr 15mins placing 3129 out of 13,540 finishers and earned my second medal of the weekend for completing the Mickey Mouse Marathon. I then had to 'get in line' to collect my final medal of the weekend for completing both the half and full marathon - the Goofy challenge medal. Once I’d found my wife in the reunion area and made my way back to the car the tiredness kicked in and I spent the rest of the day
re-couperating at the villa.

With only 3 days left of the holiday there wasn’t time for rest after Sunday so we fitted in Universal Studios taking in the Wizarding world of Harry Potter and more Disney parks before flying home and landing on Friday morning.

It’s hard to believe that six years on from picking up an information pack about the marathon weekend that I’m back in England with all 3 medals to prove that I ran 39.3 in one weekend.

Now what challenge can I take on next ...

Carl Rutt