2017 Goofy Challenge trip / race report – Day 3 – a very special half marathon

Alrighty – up at 7am – should have been over half done the Disney World half marathon by now but the weather cancellation that came through the night meant I got to sleep in. 

I lay in bed trying to figure out what I wanted to do and when I wanted to run my unofficial half marathon to get the miles in to make the Goofy Challenge legitimate. I looked at the weather radar and it looked like the worst of everything was going well north of where I was and would be for a while. Ok – let’s go. 

There was a light rain when I started out but at least it was warm out and the rain was fairly warm as well. So that was nice. 

I decided to wear the 2017 Disney World Half marathon shirt out for the run as a bit of a shout out to the cancelled race. I also put on my Nike Pegasus Shield runners to help with their waterproofing. 

My plan was to run around Saratoga Springs, find the nature path to the Old Key West Resort, run around that resort, run back to Saratoga Springs and then loop it again to make the necessary 13.1 miles. 

As soon as I headed out, I immediately started to run into other runners out doing the same thing – not many yet but by the time I was done the run there were runners everywhere! 

I started by doing a bit of a run around the resort in a random pattern – Saratoga Springs does have a designated running path but there are sidewalks all over the place so I didn’t follow the path, I just wandered with no set goals. 

After a half mile or so, I decided to try to find the path over to Old Key West to get away from any vehicle traffic. Disney really does not advertise the path, it wasn’t on any of the guide maps around the resort or on the Disney site that I could find. To find it I eventually resorted to an internet search and Google Maps. That added some time to my run. 

The path itself was nice running along beside a golf course on one side and a river/canal on the other. I met another runner or two out on that path and then even more in Old Key West. 

Old Key West is similar to Saratoga Springs in that there are side walks all over, so more wandering. At one point I realized that the path I was on looked familiar, yep, I had gotten lost and circled back. I turned around and ended up back on the path back to Saratoga Springs. 

After a few minutes the skies opened up and it got wet, very wet. Sheets of rain and no easy cover. I also heard some thunder at this point but saw no lightning. At this point I had to keep going since the only cover was trees (not a good idea in a lightning) or under a bridge. Troll jokes aside I’m not sure hiding under a bridge in Florida is the safest thing either considering the gator / snake warning signs along the canal. I eventually did see a shed I could have sheltered under but by that point the thunder had passed. 

I continued on and shared a few jokes with other runners going for a quick drowning and eventually the rain started to let up a bit. 

As the rain died off, more and more runners came out, several wearing their race bibs…wish I had thought of that! 

Every runner out there seemed to be in a great mood and everyone was cheering each other on. A super atmosphere! 

I kept running and decided to go off plan and run through Disney Springs as well – that was fun – only a few runners there but very little foot traffic since the shops weren’t open. But there were Disney cast members standing out at the doorways of several of the shops cheering on the runners. Definitely a cool vibe – it made up a bit for missing running through the parks. 

I then discovered that if you continue out to the parking lot on the west side of Disney Springs you end up at the natural trail out to Old Key West – alrighty – back out to Old Key West then. 

I was about half done my mileage at this point so I stopped to tweet that I was half done and probably needed to jump in the pool after the run in order to dry off. Still quite wet but the rain had definitely slacked off at this point. 

However my headphone internal volume controls had apparently taken on some water – volume all the way up, all the way down, skip song, all over the place. At one point the music had muted and had been for some time, I hadn’t noticed since I was enjoying the run in the rain…but then the volume came back full blast, during a DragonForce song. I literally jumped and my heart rate spiked! Holy crap…I took my headphones out at this point. 

The number of runners out kept increasing through the last half of the run. It was so cool to see runners of so many different levels out getting their miles in and cheering each other on. 

After another loop of Old Key West, I came back to Saratoga Springs and did another loop there before doing an out and back through Disney Springs. I got back to my hotel room at about 12.8 miles…damn…gotta keep going. So I did a few back and forth runs on the sideway by the hotel and ended up with a total of 13.18 miles. Cool – unofficial Walt Disney World Half Marathon done. 

After I got back to the room and had a long warm shower, I started to check twitter and saw that the unofficial half movement wasn’t isolated to Saratoga Springs. Other resorts were doing the same things and places like the Pop Century and Port Orleans Riverside resort even had cheering and water aid stations set up. Just bloody amazing. 

Resorts like the Pop and Riverside have very defined loops for running trails that helps set up designated spots for aid stations and the like and the runners don’t then get spread out as much. I was impressed with the atmosphere where I was but I can only imagine that that feeling was amplified at these resorts due to that concentration of runners. 

I am so impressed with the runDisney community. I said it in a tweet but I will say it again here – runDisney can give us venue but the community is what makes the runDisney events so special. The race cancellation was turned into something truly magical. 

At this point I should have gone to rest for a bit but I was starving since I hadn’t eaten before I ran. So I walked to Disney Springs (cheering runners along the way) and grabbed a sandwich at Earl of Sandwich. I then headed back to the room for a rest and now there was a cheer squad out cheering on runners at Saratoga Springs – super cool. 

Once back at the room and ended up sitting down to read some email…and lost an hour and a half. 

After my nap I was anxious to hit a park. Still so many runners out as I walked to the bus stop and caught the ride to Hollywood Studios. After a bit of wandering there and a ride on Star Tours and a late lunch I decided to do the walk from Hollywood Studios to Epcot. I would be doing that path on the marathon the next day but I wanted to do it once at a relaxing walk before the race. 

The path had so many runners out – even a few teams running together – just bloody awesome. They were near the Boardwalk Resort, near the Yacht and Beach Club resorts, running into Epcot. 

I tweeted about this as I wandered toward Epcot and got a response from Christina from @RunDisneyBelle that she was actually running in Epcot. I fired back that I was basically walking into Epcot at that point. 

As I wandered into the park and started crossing the bridge between England and France in World Showcase I recognized her running with @KnightBuilder65 and introduced myself to say hi. We had a quick chat about how cool it was that the so many people were getting their miles in. I didn’t want to take away from her run so we just had a short chat and I continued my wander as she continued her run. 

Super cool to meet yet another awesome runner this weekend! Christina also has an awesome recap from this cool day up on her site: The Glass Slipper Chronicles https://glassslipperchronicles.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/2017-diy-wdw-half-marathon/ After that I continued a wander through World Showcase (yay beer) and then had an early supper before heading out to the buses back to the hotel for an early night. 

Just a bloody cool day all around. That day made the trip worthwhile. 

Edit – Jan 14 – Just wanted to put in a quick other bit here. On the Friday night I was chatting with some folks on twitter who had a tough decision to make. They were Goofy Challenge runners who could probably PR the full marathon if they took it easy on Saturday. But they would still get in their half on the Monday. The conundrum they had was that Monday was their travel day out of Disney World and would they have enough time? Plus running a half the day after you beat yourself up with a full is probably harder mentally than doing the half the day before. Seeing everyone running around on the Saturday would have been tough too – it would have been hard to resist the atmosphere! I know there are probably a few runners who did this though – and I wanted to say congrats to those folks too!

Next up – Day 4 – the Walt Disney World Marathon – and I meet a cool Disney Cast Member in person.

2017 Goofy Challenge race trip report – Day 2 – spectating the Minnie 10k and bad news about the half marathon

Ok – day 2 of this interesting trip for the 2017 Goofy Challenge 

I was up early and got out quickly to the path by Disney’s Beach Club Resort to spectate the Minnie 10k race. I just missed the first of the runners heading past the hotel just after mile 5 of the race – I had hoped to get out there to see everyone but I was just a bit too slow. 

I clapped and cheered on the runners right up until the golf cart passed that was there to sweep up anyone unfortunate enough to not be able to maintain the minimum pace. 

I was awesome to see so many people out there having fun – it gives a different perspective on the race watching everyone go by instead of being in your own little bubble rushing through the race. You get a bit more of a sense of the sheer number of folks running one of these runDisney races. Then I thought back to the variety of stories I had heard from just a few runners on my way down and it really hit me just how many reasons for running, goals and stories there must be. Pretty amazing when you think about it. 

I saw a few people I recognized from twitter that I interact with but most wouldn’t have recognized me in real life. But I saw Jeff Galloway, which was awesome and said a quick hello to him as he went past. I also saw @sharpendurance from twitter go by looking very focused and I recognized @LoveDisneyRun as well, but she was across the course so I didn’t do a shout out. Looking at my twitter feed later, it looks like there were other runners there that I follow that I did not recognize, so if you are one of those folks, sorry I didn’t say “hi” as you went past! 

That was a cool experience. 

My Garmin tracker figures I did 150% of my step goals for the day just from the clapping which was kind of funny. 

From there, I went and had a quick bite to eat and packed up my stuff since I had to move hotels that day. I dropped my bags with the bag check folks at the hotel to be transferred to my new location and headed into Epcot. I was able to get on Soarin’ after a short wait and then headed out of Epcot to get on the monorail to Magic Kingdom. 

I had lunch there and did a quick ride of People Mover, which has become a bit of a tradition for me during Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. 

The park was too busy to do much else though, so I went out and caught the bus to the new resort to check in. I moved to the Saratoga Springs Resort for the rest of the trip and luckily the room was ready when I got there. 

Saratoga Springs has a walking path in to Disney Springs (the new name for Downtown Disney), so after a bit of a walk around I went there for some shopping and exploring of the new areas I hadn’t seen yet. 

While there I had an early supper to make sure whatever I ate wouldn’t impact the half marathon race the next morning. 

At this point though I am starting to stalk the weather reports as they were calling for a chance of thunderstorms the next morning…and lightning is the one thing that runDisney is pretty specific about cancelling a race for. The forecasts kept changing too, sometimes it would just show rain (which I could handle) and then it would come back and show lightning again. 

I then went back to the room to prep my gear for the next day and to get to bed early. 

As I prepped, I noticed that the pin holes in the racing bib seemed awfully close to the edge of the bib. I had visions of ripping my bib like I did on the 2015 half marathon as part of the Dopey Challenge that year. I put that out of my head for the time being though to continue to stalk the weather reports. 

runDisney indicated that they were going report back by 7:00 pm through various channels on what they were going to do about the race and weather, however by 7:30 there was still nothing coming. And then we started to hear noise that the race was cancelled the next morning…but still nothing official from runDisney on any of the 4 info channels that they indicated. 

And then they finally made the official announcement…but only on Facebook. I don’t use Facebook so my wife had to send me screen captures. It took ages before they finally put out the info on the other channels. To me this was the one real failure for runDisney. I fully accept, understand and support the decision they made but it was ridiculous that they only provided info to one of the 4 info channels they had just indicated they would put info out on….sigh. 

Edit – I have heard some grumbling on the net that runDisney did the best they could and that they are only human and that my opinion above that they fell down in one area is just sour grapes. I agree that they did extremely well – but they set themselves up to have a problem by indicating that they would update all 4 info channels. The comment above is meant as constructive criticism. As a learning opportunity for runDisney, they should be reviewing their contingency plans (and I have no doubt they will be) and refining their communication strategy. So for those that didn’t like my critique – remember that a company like Disney, and runDisney in particular, is always trying to improve and constructive criticism is a method to let them know how they can get even better. I think they did awesome all around with the unique issue but when they look to see where they can improve – here is a spot. Disaster management should have one info channel to prevent miscommunication but they indicated that they would use 4 and only updated 1 initially. If runDisney had indicated that they would provide the info by Facebook only initially then the onus would be on me to monitor that info channel but the communications strategy as it stood indicated that I did not need to look at the one channel they initially updated. So again – great job! But here is a spot that can get better.

Now with that being said, runDisney is very clear that there are no refunds but they stepped up and gave everyone a variety of options. One of them was a refund in the form of a Disney gift card and you could still get the race medal. Another option was a sign up for another runDisney half over the next couple years, and yet some others could try to get a few limit spots to move up to the full marathon on Sunday. 

When I think back to the 10k in the morning and all those runners’ stories, I really feel for the runners who were down to do the half marathon as their destination race and weren’t able to do it. 

Goofy Challenge and Dopey Challenge runners were put in a strange position though – you would still get your medals…but you wouldn’t have actually done the challenge…I think for most runners doing the challenges the mindset at that point was not about the race being cancelled but instead being concerned that they didn’t earn the final challenge medals. 

Not acceptable. 

I started doing math of how many laps around the resort I would need to do to get 13.1 and I saw on twitters that others were doing the same. I even saw runners blast out basically as soon as the announcement came out – they got in their miles that night. Just awesome. 

So now I was left with the decision of what to do that night. I was no longer planning on going to bed early so I decided to head out and hit Disney Springs again for a wander and a think (and a beer). 

By the time I wandered back to the room, I had come up with a plan. My resort (Saratoga Springs) has a nature trail to the Old Key West Resort and also a walking path to Disney Springs and a running trail around the resort. I decided to loop around Saratoga Springs then take the trail out to Old Key West, do a loop there and come back and repeat. It would take only a few of those loops to hit 13.1 miles. Plan sorted. 

I filled a water bottle with some electrolyte drink for the morning and went to bed wondering when I would be able to actually get my miles in the next day. 

Next – Day 3 – a monsoon half marathon and thousands of determined runners…everywhere

Goofy Challenge 2017 race trip report – Day 1 – travel day and meeting some cool folks

Well, this is my third time starting to write up a race trip report for this past weekend’s Goofy Challenge / Walt Disney World Marathon trip and I think I might finally have figured it out! 

Let’s start of with saying that this trip was unique and full of firsts and cool events. I didn’t have a great race but the trip reinforced to me the strength and awesomeness of the runDisney community!

I met some cool runners on the trip starting even before I made it down to Orlando. 

In Toronto, during my layover, I had a runner (Mike) come up to me recognizing the Goofy Challenge shirt that I was wearing and we started chatting about the races coming up. He was also on his way down to do the Goofy Challenge. As we chatted, it came out that he had read my packing list posts (which turned out to be prophetic considering how cold the marathon was on Sunday, but more on that later). That was pretty cool – the blog doesn’t get a huge amount of traffic so anytime I run into someone who has read some part of the blog it is pretty amazing to me. He had a pretty powerful story too about having part of one of his lungs removed in Dec 2015 and trained through 2016, running 3 half marathons all culminating for a celebratory Goofy Challenge. Fantastic and very inspiring! Cool start to the weekend meeting someone like that! I didn’t run into him again after we got off the plane in Orlando but if you are reading this, I have got to say, it is a very inspiring story man, and I hope you had a good set of runs over the weekend! Cheers to you!!

Also in Toronto, we chatted with another runner going down and she was running for Team Diabetes. 

So many cool, inspiring stories and I haven’t even made it out of the country yet! 

On the plane, I sat next to a family from Ontario heading down to cheer their daughter on who was running the marathon. Again, very cool. And it just shows the variety of people that go to the runDisney racing events. 

Once down in Orlando, I hopped on the Magical Express and got the ride to the resort. And after taking care of a quick stop to sort out my park tickets, I got on the event bus to go get my race package from the race expo. 

runDisney had tweaked the race expo since the last time I was there and I’m not sure it was really an improvement but it worked well enough. Although, I have to say the routing of the runners who had pre-ordered merchandise was very strange and did not seem efficient at all. But I got my stuff, so how bad could it be? Before leaving the expo I caught a few minutes of Olympian and runDisney legend Jeff Galloway’s presentation. 

At the expo I picked up a few things like a new running hat and a new set of shoes that were a pretty good deal even after US to Canadian exchange. 

After that it was back to the hotel before heading into Epcot to wander around (and have a beer and a pretzel the size of my head). And then I did a wander around the Boardwalk area before heading back to the room to turn in for the night. 

Next up Day 2 – spectating the Minnie 10k and some bad news about the half marathon

2017 plans. A return to form and a push to Dopey Challenge 2018!?!

With a new year we get a chance to reflect on things both good and bad from the past year and make plans for the future. What do we want to change? What should we keep doing? What can we do (or not do) to build ourselves and others up?

For the coming year there are a few things I know I need to change both running wise and just for life in general.

I don’t like to make resolutions since they usually get broken pretty damned quick – instead I am going to make a few commitments to myself.


First Commitment:

2018 Dopey Challenge – I am just days away from heading down to Orlando / Disney World for the 2017 Goofy Challenge but I am committing to running the 2018 Dopey Challenge now and doing it well. I want a better overall time than I got when I ran it in 2015. I was very happy with my overall time and strength that year and if I want to better that time, then I need to start work now and build through the year. I did 1971 miles in 2014 leading up to the 2015 Dopey Challenge so I will be trying to beat those numbers for 2017. I also set my PRs in the half and full marathons in 2014, so I will have some work to do to rebuild here.

In 2018 the race will be the 5th anniversary of the Dopey Challenge, the 5th anniversary of the Minnie 10k and the 25th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon. That is a party I want to be involved with! I suspect there will be many who feel the same way so hopefully I can get in through the early entry with my annual pass!

My wife and I want to bring the kids down for this one too. I am doing Goofy Challenge this year and Heather is doing the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. We both have fallen in love with runDisney races and we really want to share that with the kids and get them more active at the same time. So we intend to do the 5k with them and see where else we end up. Our son is old enough to do the 10k so we will see if we can get him interested in that too. We are going to start building them up to this with the Pro Bowl 5k on January 28th – they will get a taste of a race through Epcot and hopefully they will catch the bug too!

Basically, all my running this year must lead toward this goal.


Second Commitment:

Spruce Woods Ultra – I let myself down on this one in 2016. I didn’t run my own race and it cost me. I know I could have completed this race and it eats at me a bit that I messed it up. So this year I will do it again and do it properly (properly for me – RUN MY OWN RACE). The only thing here is that I will have to decide what distance – 50k, 50 miles or 100k (smart enough to know I will not be ready for a 100 miler any time soon). Completing the race will be rebuilding my confidence so I need to figure out if I will feel better running a very strong 50k or if going well beyond 50k will work better.

The decision here will depend on how well my Achilles tendon continues to recover. I also don’t want to jeopardize 2018 Dopey Challenge with a big injury during the year. I realize you risk injury on every run and you can’t let that hold you back from reaching your goals…but there is a big difference between taking chances and deliberately flitting with disaster.

This race is in May, so I have some time to decide how things are going before I finalize my plans.


Third Commitment:

24 hour Lemming Loop – considering I really had no idea what I was getting into and my Achilles tendon didn’t cooperate  at all, I am a fairly happy with what I accomplished at the 2016 Lemming Loop…but I know I can do better.

I want to do this one again when I am stronger and healthier and just see what I can do. I have always thought my strength as a runner was more about endurance and quick recovery and this event lends itself to those traits. And I want to know what I am capable of here.


Other things:

These aren’t quite the same as the commitments above but they are things that will either need to happen or I want to happen over the year.


Lose weight…this one starts to sound a bit like a New Years resolution but it really isn’t. With my reduced mileage and injuries, my weight has crept up over the past year and a half and I have probably gained back 20 of the pounds I had previously lost. This needs to be rectified to achieve my goals above. I know how to do it and this will happen.


Marathon Maniacs – there are about 4 marathons run near(ish) to where I live and either combined with each other or with the ultras listed above I should be able to get Marathon Maniac status this year. I think this is something that would be pretty cool – but I am not going to commit to it as being healthy for the above races will take precedent as will various family commitments through the year.


Half Marathons – there are a few I like to do every year and I will most likely do so again with the goal of getting some speed back. My half PR is 1:46:00 and getting back there this year might be difficult but I think I can get back down to sub 1:50 and I would be quite happy with that.


Stress reduction – Over the past year or so I have been dealing with some big stressors that have been impacting my running motivation. I need to find a way to deal with those. At this point I suspect doing additional writing on the blog will help. I have been a bit lax over the past year on the blog but I will be picking it up and posting more. I find the writing helps focus my brain and lets me come up with solid plans better…so let’s do that.


As a conclusion, I have to say I am fairly excited about the upcoming year of running and looking forward to see where I end up!

Good luck to everyone in 2017!!

2017 Goofy Challenge trip plan – looking forward to this trip!

My Goofy Challenge trip this year is kind of different from any other Goofy or Dopey Challenge I have ever done.

I will be going to Orlando completely on my own. In the past, I have always traveled with my wife, or my wife and kids, or with my brother for Walt Disney World Marathon weekend and of course that means my schedule was never fully my own. So that is something I definitely am looking forward to for this trip – having complete freedom to figure out what I want to do and how I want to spend my time. I can’t wait to wander around to wherever my whims take me at any given time.  I will be bringing my DSLR to take pictures and I will be having fun doing that as well.

On Thursday the 5th, I will need to be up and at the Winnipeg airport around 3 am or so Central time and I will get into the Orlando airport around 1:30 pm Eastern time after hopping through Toronto.

From there, it is straight over to catch the Magical Express to my first hotel (I ended up having to do a hotel switch part way through the trip this time).

After some quick running around to sort out my park tickets, I expect to get to the race expo between 4 and 5 on Thursday. After getting the expo swag back to my hotel room I will be heading into Epcot for the evening and looking to wander the Boardwalk area after the park closes.

I am staying in the Boardwalk area and will be getting up early on the Friday morning to come out to cheer on the 10k runners! Not exactly sure where I will be hanging out cheering everyone on but hopefully I will see folks I know.

After hanging around and having some fun, I will need to change hotels on Friday. My plan here is to get moved as early as I can and enjoy either Magic Kingdom or maybe Hollywood Studios for the afternoon and early evening. Maybe some time at Disney Springs too?

Saturday will be the half marathon – so up way early again. I am not going to put any speed pressures on this race – just want to enjoy the atmosphere and take it easy.

After the race, I will head back to the hotel to get cleaned up and then decide what to do next. Probably a park but maybe Disney Springs – I am definitely going to be playing this one by ear.

Sunday – full marathon – another early morning. Again no time goals here but I will be trying to keep a steady pace and see where that leads with my ankle. If I start having issues, I will have to protect it and slow down – this one might finish with a nice long walk…

After the race – back to the hotel and if the weather cooperates, I would like to do some swimming to stretch things out (and maybe do some laundry being the exciting person I am). I will play most of the day be ear and then I expect to hit Epcot until it closes – I think they have some later hours for Disney resort guests that night, so I will be taking advantage of that.

Monday – my last day – I will have to check out of the hotel but I don’t have to be at the airport until 5ish so depending on Magical Express timing I am hoping to hit a park in the morning and afternoon.

So that is my basic plan but I am really excited to just go and wander wherever I feel I want to go – I have never had that freedom at Disney World before and I think it will be pretty awesome! Looking forward to the trip!

Ok – last post of then night – time to enjoy the New Years celebrations. Happy New Year!