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Photo: Ken Lettre and his daughter, Megan, following the January 2007 Disney World Marathon.

It was Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006, and I had just finished running my first-ever Disney World Half Marathon. While I loved my Donald Duck-shaped half-marathon medal, I was envious of those sporting the Mickey Mouse-shaped marathon medal and the newly minted Goofy Race and a Half medal. It was then that I set a goal for myself — to be Goofy at Disney in 2007!

For those that don’t know, the “Goofy Race and a Half” at Walt Disney World consists of running a half marathon on Saturday, followed by a full marathon the very next day. Yes, that’s 39.3 total miles in two days. With a year before my race, I discussed my “Goofy” goal openly with anyone willing — and not so willing — to listen. Most of comments I heard in return included some version of the question, “Are you that crazy?” 

The answer to that question, I must admit, was an obvious “YES!”

The goal of running 39.3 total miles in two days is crazy. But, crazy or not, it was my goal — a goal I was going to accomplish — especially since I had already mailed in my non-refundable registration fee. So, I started to train, and soon I realized that my part-time passion soon became a full-time job. In 2006, I signed up for several half marathons and two full marathons (Music City in Nashville and Marine Corp in Washington DC), all in the hope of complimenting my almost seemingly endless series of training runs. 

So train I did throughout 2006, all the while keeping my eye on the goal — getting Goofy at Disney in January 2007. 

Time marched on and soon it was January 2007. Driving down to the Disney area, I could feel my stomach tensing-up almost the same way I felt just before my first-ever 5K race some 10 years earlier. Finding myself at the Disney sports complex, I patiently stood in the “Goofy Race” packet pickup line. Upon receiving my required Goofy “First Race” orange wristband, I felt a lump in my throat … all the planning, all the training … it was finally happening.

Suddenly it was Saturday, Jan. 6, 2007 at 3 a.m.: Time to get up, prepare myself and then catch the Disney-provided transportation in time for the 6 a.m. start. I had some help with the day’s half marathon — my youngest son Matthew was running the race with me, while my daughter Megan would be my running partner for the full marathon. In my starting corral at 5 a.m., I awaited the start for what seemed like an eternity. 

Finally, the start! 

As cold as the course was in 2006, the complete opposite was true in 2007 — very warm and humid. Two hours later, I finished. Not a PR (i.e. Personal Record) time, but I didn’t want a PR as I still had much more running to do. My original orange wristband was removed and replaced with a blue one, signifying that I completed the half marathon in the required amount of time.

My first day of running was completed.

Back to the room, I showered and let my kids talk me into visiting the Magic Kingdom all day — just what a body needs before a marathon is a full day of walking following a half marathon. Back in the room that night at 10 p.m. — much too late! 

Suddenly it was Sunday, Jan. 7, 2007 at 3 a.m. and time to once again get up, prepare myself and catch the Disney provided transportation in time for the 6 a.m. start. Megan and I were in our assigned corrals this time at 5:15 a.m., awaiting the start. The marathon’s start was very impressive with fireworks that only Disney can pull off. The day’s temperature was even more impressive, having a high of 85 with the humidity to match. I started with the 4:30 pace team and managed to keep up until around mile 15. After that, I started doing some quick math in my head and determined that I would indeed complete the course within the 7:00 time limit and have time to spare. 

It was then that I decided to have some fun, talking to the crowd, ‘high fiving’ anyone that would. Mile 25 entered EPCOT near ‘Canada’ with the course continuing past all the nations, and then finally past the giant EPCOT landmark sphere where the finish line awaited just outside EPCOT’s main gate.

Marathon finished: 5:00:02.

Goofy challenge completed.

39.3 miles completed in 2 days.

Goal achieved! 

Through the finisher’s chute, you first receive your Mickey shaped marathon medal. Much pride! 

Goofy Challenge racers then proceeded to the Goofy tent where the blue wristband was removed and a Goofy Race and a Half medal was placed around my neck — a medal I had been waiting for since Jan. 2006. 

A few finishing observations:

  • I do not believe in coincidences. Rather, I believe that everything happens for a reason led by God or whomever your chose to believe in. Case in point: With my iPod on random play, the song being played through my headset when I crossed the marathon finish line was Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” Go figure…
  • Simply the hardest part of the entire race weekend was getting up two mornings in a row at 3 a.m.
  • Advice to take to heart — Do NOT visit the Magic Kingdom the day before the marathon.

The bottom line: Disney does great marathons. Excellent organization and their volunteers are very well trained and knowledgeable. While Disney features their “run through all 4 parks” scenario, be prepared for the fact that the majority of the running is not in any of the actual parks, rather the majority of the run is on the surrounding roads leading to and from the parks. 

This coming January 2013, I’m returning to Disneyworld to run my Goofy Challenge No. 4. Yes, fellow readers, I’m a slow learner. 

In fact, I’m going to take it one step further by running what we affectionately call the “Dopey Challenge.” This unofficial Disney race adds the very family-friendly Disney 5K race on Friday to the weekend races. So, if you’re keeping track, that’s 3.1 miles on Friday, 13.1 miles on Saturday and finally 26.2 miles on Sunday for a total of 42.4 miles in 3 days. Piece of cake! 

Oh, by the way, there’s still time to register for all these January 2013 Disneyworld races. 

There’s your challenge. Now set your goals, and if you’re Goofy, MAKE IT HAPPEN!

You may contact Ken Lettre directly at: TXMidPack@gmail.com