by Joseph Kolinsky
In this blog entry, Iâ€™ll begin to summarize for my fellow DisneyGeeks the Run Disney calendar of events.Â For those of you that are already runners (but havenâ€™t given a Disney race a shot yet), hopefully these descriptions will help you select the race that sounds best for you to dip your toe into the Run Disney water.Â And for those of you that are considering taking up walking, jogging, or running, maybe these descriptions can help you select the first race you enter.Â As a reeeeeeally slow runner, I know that I need a carrot to dangle in front of myself in order to stay focus while Iâ€™m training.Â Is there any bigger carrot to dangle in front of my eyes than a trip to WDW?Â Not for me there isnâ€™t!
So the Run Disney calendar kicks off in a BIG way, with what has become their signature event: The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.Â There are shorter distance races for kids, a 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) race on Friday, followed by a Half Marathon on Saturday and, to put a huge bow on the racing weekend, The Walt Disney World Marathon goes off on Sunday.Â Some absolutely crazy runners actually run the half marathon on Saturday, and then wake up the next morning to run the full marathon.Â Letâ€™s face it â€“ you gotta be Goofy to do that, right?Â So if you run both races on this weekend, you travel home with not 1â€¦.not 2â€¦.but 3 medals!Â A Donald Duck medal is hung around the necks of all Half Marathon finishers.Â A very shiny Mickey medal is all yours, as long as you run all 26.2 miles on Sunday.Â Andâ€¦.if you dare to run bothâ€¦.you also earn the Goofy Challenge medal, thereby making it clearly evident to those around you that the cheese must have fallen off of your cracker a loooooong time ago.Â (I ran the Goofy Challenge in 2009, and most of my buddies have taken that act as firm confirmation that Iâ€™m slightlyâ€¦wellâ€¦.askew).
This weekend of races has historically been held the second weekend in January.Â The next WDW Marathon weekend is slated for January 5th â€“ January 8th, 2012.Â As of June 30th, the half marathon and the full marathon were at 50% of their overall participant capacity (which reminds me â€“ I got to sign up soon).
The Family 5k Fun Run held on Friday, January 6th takes the participants through Epcot.Â I think this is a great opportunity for teens (or tweens) to get their first taste of running in a large group with a runner pinned to their shirts.Â Fun runs like this arenâ€™t held with a fierce competitive overtone to them, so each person can go at his or her own pace and feel the satisfaction of finishing a distance that maybe theyâ€™ve attempted before!
The Walt Disney World Half Marathon will be held on Saturday, January 7th.Â The race takes the runners through the Magic Kingdom before a big finish in Epcot.Â Runners have the opportunity to run through Cinderellaâ€™s Castle, down Main Street USA, and through the World Showcase.Â There are characters and photo opportunities everywhere, so most runners donâ€™t come into this race with a goal time in mindâ€¦but I bet they run with a camera in their hands!
The Walt Disney World Marathon will be held on Sunday, January 8th.Â This race is truly special, because itâ€™s the only race on the Run Disney calendar that allows the participants to run through all four theme parks.Â The number of characters out along the course, rooting for the runners, is amazing.Â By finishing this race, each runner can say that he or she was in every one of the four theme parksâ€¦.before lunchtime (or, in my case, before a late dinner â€“ I really need to stop running with a grand piano on my backâ€¦.but I digressâ€¦)!
Volunteer support throughout the weekend is fantastic.Â Water stops and medical facilities are always available.Â Cheering spectators can be found lining the various courses all weekend, helping you to achieve your goal.Â By the time you pack your bags for home, you cannot help but depart with an incredibly positive vibe that youâ€™ll carry with you for weeksâ€¦.hopefully months!
Another good thing about this Marathon Weekend is the time of year that itâ€™s scheduled for.Â Early January provides comfortable temperatures and slightly lighter crowds within the parks. So you can celebrate your achievements by riding Splash Mountain, beating a family member at Toy Story Mania, or simply strolling down Main Street USA, taking in the splendor, unparalleled creativity and unique ingenuity that is Walt Disney World.
So get out there, get moving, and make sure you double-knot your shoe laces, because Marathon Weekend is only 6 months away!Â In my next entry, Iâ€™ll continue to share with you brief a description of the other races that Run Disney offers.Â In the meantime, if you have any general running questions, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.Â Iâ€™ll try my best to offer advice â€“ and Iâ€™m more than willing to offer motivation to get your ears in gear!Â Iâ€™m not a doctor, specialist, elite athlete or coach â€“ Iâ€™ve just run a few of these races and Iâ€™ve made every single dumb mistake a runner can make.Â If I can help you not to duplicate my utter stupidity, Iâ€™ll do my best!
In the words of my wise Irish grandmother, â€œwhether you think you can, or you think you canâ€™tâ€¦youâ€™re probably right.â€