Thursday, January 21, 2016

Goofy Challenge 2016 Recap

Hello everyone! I've been on a cross-country adventure of races the past two weekends starting with the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend which takes place the second weekend of January each year as well as the Star Wars Half-Marathon Weekend which is the following weekend at the Disneyland Resort. We will go in order and tackle Marathon Weekend first!

I was looking forward to this year's Marathon weekend because not only would I be completing my fourth Goofy Challenge but I would also get to see my favorite running buddy from the West Coast! If you have read my race recaps before I frequently mention my friend Laurie. We met at the final Disneyland Meet-Up a few years ago, as I've mentioned before the meet-ups were a whole thing that are no longer part of race weekends. Laurie is an awesome mother-runner, she just had her third child last year and is already back to her pre-baby speed. I always see her on the West Coast so I was excited to hear she was coming to Orlando!

My flight was later in the afternoon but ended up getting delayed (yay!) so I arrived a little after 7pm to Florida. We stayed at the Contemporary Resort which is by far my favorite of all the hotels due to the convenience. After catching up for a bit we had dinner at Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs, which was very good! I would love to go again when there wasn't a 3am wake-up call to run 13.1 miles. My running friends (and basically everyone who knows me) understand I love my sweets! So, nothing wrong with a little treat at The Ganachery Chocolate Shop, right?

After laughter and snacks, it was time for bed but then it was 3am and time to get up! Disney races start early and I mean early, like 5:30am. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the start, you will have to take the monorail or bus if you are staying on-site or the other alternative, driving on your own or taking a cab. I didn't make the expo to get my bib so I just picked it up at the emergency bib pick-up at the runner's area. They don't like to advertise this option and I do recommend trying to get your bib the day before but do know if you do happen to miss the expo cut-off you can still get your bib!

Let me take this time to explain the Goofy Challenge. A few years back Disney realized that people were coming to race weekends and running all the races therefore they created race weekend challenges. RunDisney first created "The Goofy Challenge" about 11 years ago and it consists of completing the half-marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday, a 39.3 adventure! Or you are just crazy or as they say "Goofy" ha-ha so clever oh, you want more? Then just add the 5k on Thursday and 10k on Friday and you have "The Dopey Challenge". I did the Dopey when it was first introduced in 2014, I am a one and done on that but I do like the Goofy Challenge, while still very hard it is much more doable in my opinion.

Back to the half-marathon! The race got started on time, which runDisney is very good about. The corral system makes things run smoothly and I never got that crowded feeling once, we were in "E". The course is pretty good, it is the same one that is used for the February "Princess Half-Marathon Weekend", I think that is my favorite race weekend of all but just know it is the same course. I wanted to hurry and get through with the half so here is the only picture I took on the course...wild turkeys!

Posing with our medals! Yes, I am dressed as a mermaid. If you don't embrace the Disney spirit while you are doing the race then why do it?
 I also got to see one of my best friends from college who lives in Orlando. These races are so much fun to do with friends but even if you are running solo really you aren't. You are just with 20,000 of your closest friends! Disney races are BIG.

After a busy day, a nap and relaxation were in order. It was a bit rainy but we still went out to the parks for a couple of hours. Try to remember to still have some fun even during race weekends! What I mean is, I know it will be hard to not go out to the parks, just be careful and don't over-do it. You want to have as fresh legs as possible.

How fun is the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater? I just love it! They had a really good pasta which was perfect for runners

Yes, marathon morning was approaching and there was every intention of going to sleep early. However, the Steelers/ Bengals playoff game was on and you literally had to watch the last play to see how it ended. Soon the alarm was off and here we are. Ready for a nice stroll in the parks. Yep, just 26.2 miles. I was dreading it. I love the half-marathon distance but honestly the full is too daunting. I know I can do it but it takes a lot of mental strength. After arriving in the corral, it felt like in no time we were off!

Bye race announcers!

Hello race sign!

Wow fireworks! Yes, the do this for every race and corral!

I wanted to try and push through this race so I didn't stop for many pictures, the lines were a little too long so I just snapped a few shots to give you an idea of what's on course during a Disney race. Something I noticed was there were so many character opportunities! Normally the characters don't change much from the half to the full but there was a big difference this time. Lots of cool, more obscure characters were out and ones you rarely see in parks!


As you can see quite the collection of characters! That wasn't even half of them, there were seriously tons! Yes, I love pigs so this photo opp at the Animal Kingdom was a must. Around this time, my knees were killing me and my hip hurt. If this happens to you, my best advice? Think positive! As soon as you start doubting yourself, the more you want to stop. It was very humid that day and my feet were developing some intense blisters, I knew it was going to be hard to finish but I listened to music and took in the surroundings.

Expedition Everest (the roller coaster in Animal Kingdom) is open during the race, I rode last year but bypassed this year. If I sat down, I'm not sure I could get up! This is a really fun moment though if you do decide to partake!

The course is pretty decent and it feels like you see every inch of Disney World, I know you don't but it still feels that way. If you feel yourself getting tired, stop for a photo and take the time to regroup, like I did with this bear. Stop at the water/PowerAde stations, have your snacks, get a gel, do what you need to do to finish.  

I wanted to finish but I also wasn't sure if I physically could. My hip and feet were hurting so bad by mile 24 that I contemplated quitting. Literally I was looking for someone on a medical bike, it was that bad. I updated some friends and family and with some words of encouragement, I picked up the pace and finished. I wanted those medals! Passing the Boardwalk, means you are almost there, it's right outside Epcot where the finish line awaits.

This was actually my first marathon back in 2013 so it holds a special place in my heart. The course is mainly flat and takes you through all four parks, the only race to do so. I'm not sure I will be doing another "Goofy", I think I will just take the half or the full, not both. Realize these are long distances, even if you are in Disney, the distance is still the same. It's hard work!
I would highly recommend the full especially if it is your first. The half is a good course as well even if I do prefer it when it is being used for the Princess Half . This race weekend is still one of my favorites and a great way to kick off the year!
Learn more about runDisney events here!
Happy Running!


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