The Goofy Race and a Half Challenge is just that…a BIG challenge! Well imagine running your first marathon as part of the challenge…well that’s just Goofy! Well that’s exactly what Gabby did this year and she killed both races! Check it out…
This year, during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend I completed the Goofy Challenge. Side note: this was also my first marathon! When runDisney released the Goofy Challenge 10 year anniversary medal I fell in love! I had already been considering the full marathon for 2015, but never considered Goofy until I saw the medal. I showed it to my husband and he then proceeded to convince me that not only could I complete it, but that he would do it with me (he had never run a half at this point), along with my best friend Em.
So we signed up in April and the three of us began our training in July. We modified the Jeff Galloway plan on the runDisney website. Our longest back-to-back run was 10 miles Saturday and 20 miles Sunday. Though the original plan had called for slightly longer distances, this worked for us and felt like enough training to get us to the finish line.
Saturday morning finally rolled around and we were up at 3:30 a.m. for the half. We stayed at the Polynesian so that we could just hop on the monorail to Epcot at about 4:15 a.m. We stopped at the porta-potties and then made the cattle crawl to our corrals, while the National Anthem was being sung. I dropped back to corral M so that I could run with Em. We had about a 45-50 minute wait until it was our corrals start time. Despite the weather being colder than anticipated, I was so ready to run. I knew once I got going that I would warm up and that’s exactly what happened. I dressed up as Mr. Smee, but had to add a long sleeved shirt and capris to the outfit.
The plan was to take it easy during the half to save our legs for the full marathon the next day. Em and I felt great after running 2:45 at Wine and Dine so that was our goal. We always run at least the first mile straight at Disney races so that the crowd thins out a little, before converting to our 4:1 run-walk intervals. Well, the crowds didn’t really thin liked we’d hoped it would after a mile (spoiler alert: it was like this the entire race!). Unfortunately, we ended up having to do a lot of weaving and dodging to get around people the duration of the race.
These guys did a great job cheering. “Pumpin Up the Party” was playing and I find that song so catchy!
My favorite part of the half marathon is miles 4-7. You go under the Magic Kingdom sign and then through the transportation and ticket center. The energy level of the spectators there was incredible! Definitely a highlight from the races on both Saturday and Sunday. People had some hilarious signs at the TTC that also kept me chuckling. I gave out lots of high fives here.
Then we then came up on the tunnel that takes you to the Contemporary. The DJ on top of the bridge is pretty awesome and keeps your energy level up. Then before I knew it we entered a backstage area and were headed towards Main Street USA! I couldn’t believe everything was still decorated for Christmas!
The crowds were ok until we got to the castle where we had to walk because people just weren’t moving. I took the opportunity to get a shot looking down Main Street from the Castle.
We headed past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian and back down World Drive. I really enjoyed the music that they were blasting between miles 11-12 prior to entering Epcot. They had a large screen with cartoons on it that kind of went with the music.
We didn’t stop for a picture with the Mime or Genie and Abu because the lines were crazy, but here are some random people with them.
Right before entering Epcot there was a DJ blasting “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston and that gave me a huge burst of energy and I was ready to finish strong! We dashed through Epcot in what seemed like a few seconds, passed the Gospel Choir and there it was – the finish line! We finished in 2:59:32 and were feeling great! One third of the Goofy Challenge was now complete. After lots of stretching we headed back to the Poly to relax for the rest of the day.
We once again woke up at 3:30 am, but were definitely dragging a little more than the day prior. After getting dressed and going outside we were pleasantly surprised that the weather was much warmer than the day before! So we walked to the TTC and boarded a monorail directly to Epcot. I was a ball of emotion the day of the marathon.
The first 8 miles of the course are the same as the half. I was excited to see what the speedway had in store for us. First of all, I was not expecting the steady decline that was immediately followed up by a steady incline to get onto the speedway. Overall, the speedway wasn’t bad. I just had no idea just how huge it would be from the inside!
Mile 11 brought the smelliness of the water treatment plant on Disney property. I found it hilarious that they had signs with fun facts all along the road where the treatment plant was. I guess they thought it would occupy our minds from the smell.
Next up was Animal Kingdom! Outside of Animal Kingdom they had some animals with signs/bibs on. It was adorable! It felt like Animal Kingdom went by in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, we were crossing the split timer for the half marathon!
Miles14-17 lead us to ESPN wide world of sports. Around mile 16 there was a DJ blasting the best songs at the top of a slight hill. Cameron and I loved this part of the race! My husband teaches 3rd grade and his kids love Phineas and Ferb. When we saw them around mile 16 with no line we knew we had to stop. (I’ve never even seen the show, haha!)
ESPN was pretty boring, which I had already mentally prepared myself for. Around mile 18 I started to struggle which continued through mile 22. There was a weird hill/slant combo between miles 21-22 that was awful. My legs just weren’t having it and hurt pretty badly.
When we got to Hollywood Studios I was expecting there to be a mass amount of people cheering, but it turned out that not many people were in the park at that time. The disco tunnel had flashing lights, but no music playing which was really strange. Leaving Hollywood Studios there were a lot of people lining the course outside of the park which was awesome! I love this part of the course when we get to run around the boardwalk and towards Epcot. I saw two girls from #TeamSparkle cheering by the slight uphill heading toward Epcot. It was exactly what I needed to get me through the last portion of the race.
We saw the mile 25 sign and I told Cameron I just wanted to run the rest of the race and he agreed. Epcot was a complete blur I just wanted to see that finish line so badly. When we hit the 26th mile marker I was holding in tears because I knew I wouldn’t be able to breathe if I started crying. We crossed the finish line and all of the built up emotion hit me and I broke down. It was an incredible moment.
Goofy Challenge Overview
Doing the Goofy Challenge as my first marathon was definitely risky. Prior to the start of training the longest run I had ever done was 14 miles. Luckily, my body adapted well to running longer distances. I feel that if you train properly (logging enough miles, stretching, icing, foam rolling) then Goofy Challenge is an attainable goal, even as your first marathon. Just be prepared that your life will revolve around training on the weekends. Completing the runs scheduled for Saturday and Sunday is the key to completing Goofy Challenge as it preps your body for what is to come.
Something new this year with the Goofy Challenge is that they took your picture with your bib at the expo. Then after you finished the half and full you also had your picture taken as proof of finishing (along with your time). After the full marathon they used a computer to type in your bib number and verify that you qualified for the Goofy medal. Dopey Challengers did the same thing. This replaced the prior armband system.
Overall, WDW Marathon weekend was an awesome experience and I’m so lucky to have been present two years in a row! The feeling of being surrounded by so many people who have the same passion that I do is indescribable. I now wonder what it would be like to run a marathon on fresh legs…hmmm. Hopefully I’ll find out someday!
Celebrating with Goofy was a must!
My name is Gabby and I blog over at The Running Goober. I live in Virginia and work as a Registered Nurse. Running and strength training are my favorite ways to stay active. I started distance running in the fall of 2013 and ran my first half marathon at Disney World in January 2014. Since then I have completed 5 more half-marathons and 1 full marathon.