I know from the shape of my body, you wouldn’t guess I run at least 1 marathon a year (I know I REALLY slacked off for the past few years!!) For those people who don’t know, a marathon race is a race that is 42 kilometers long, or 26.2 miles. I’ve done marathons up north, down south and out west. Then back in 2014, I decided that marathons weren’t enough, I want to destroy my legs more! So I discovered the Walt Disney World’s Goofy Challenge! The Goofy Challenge is on RunDisney’s race weekend, which lands on either the first or second week of January, the Saturday runners will run a half marathon 21 kilometers (13.1 miles) and then a full marathon the next day!
RunDisney also offers a Dopey Challenge, which is 4 days long and it’s a 5k (3.1 miles) then 10k (6.2 miles) I have done this challenge a couple of times as well. One of the best things about this race is they will bring out retired characters from the parks so runners can take their pictures with them. Characters like Robin Hood, Hawaiian Genie, Mary Poppins, and even Jack Skellington and Sally who only appear in the parks for Halloween.
I’ve been running this race for the past 5 years, and the characters were always my favorite part. I liked them so much, that sometimes I would get really close from being swept off the race for having a slow speed. In the RunDisney races, they require that you have a pace of 16 minutes per mile and very strict about it since they need to operate the park and reopen the roads that have been closed due to the race. This year, I had little training and only ran a total of 6 miles consist due to having a child born in September. I had no intention to run for either the half or full. (I only signed up for the Goofy so I could sleep in on Thursday and Friday since the race starts at 5:30AM and you have to be in the corral by 4:30AM).
Before I ran the half this year, my friend who ran the Dopey told me that Chip and Dale was in their Rescue Ranger outfits. This got me excited, because sometimes characters would come back for the next race the following days. When my wave started, they chose to play the original DuckTales theme to start the runners! It was like they knew I was in the wave. As I ran to get to their allocated location, I saw that Chip and Dale were there, but in tuxedos with the mostly forgotten female chipmunk Clarice. Since I was walking the race, I didn’t want to chance getting swept from the balloon ladies. Sadly, Chip and Dale didn’t return for the marathon, meaning if I didn’t want to be lazy on Friday morning, I could’ve had a chance to get a picture with their Rescue Ranger outfits. I did get a picture of them at the finish line in their race attire! I didn’t wear a hat that day, so no I will not be posting that picture for the public to see!
So here comes the day of the full marathon. Already completed the half marathon, I am pumped and ready to
run walk to the last 26.2 miles of this race! I told my wife and my son (which I’m sure he didn’t understand yet) that I won’t stop for pictures unless the Rescue Rangers comeback or if the elusive duckly that dawns the night finally come. So I go, off to a great start! 14 minute for the first 2 miles! Then, what is that I see right before the 2 mile marker – its Launchpad McQuack’s plane! I know this plane very well. See, for the past 2 years Launchpad and Scrooge McDuck have been greeting the runners as they are about to enter the parking lot for the Magic Kingdom. The prop they always bring for their location is Launchpad’s plane. Well things have changed over the past year, see Launchpad has came out of retirement and Scrooge has returned, but in a red jacket instead of the original blue. So once I saw the plane, I had to peek over to see if Scrooge was in his blue coat or did the race finally bring him out in his shiny red coat.
OH, but that wasn’t Scrooge McDuck next to Launchpad. No, it was none other than Darkwing Duck! The star of my favorite Disney Afternoon show of all time! Oh there was a long line for him, but I didn’t care. I messaged my wife saying that I won’t finish the race cause I gotta get a pic of the terror that flaps in the night. (it was almost 6AM, it was still dark!) As I stood in line, they were playing the DuckTales 2017 theme in a loop. So I got to hear that, A LOT. I was surprised because when I waited for Scrooge and Launchpad the past years, they would alternate between the original DuckTales theme and a newer version of the Darkwing Duck theme (almost the same that you can hear in Disney Infinity). Also, I do not believe they have Felicia Barton’s theme by herself, as this was clearly from the show as all the sound effects were to be heard. I’ve been hoping Darkwing would come to the race ever since I did RunDisney races back in 2014, and him finally coming was a dream come true! Last time I saw Darkwing in the parks, was when I was 19 years old – even then his show was off the air for at least 5 or 7 years.
Now I wish this story had a better ending, but after I came back to the race and entered the Magic Kingdom, the course gets narrow and the proper running etiquette is that slower people go off to the side to allow the faster people to run in the middle. There is a pacing group that runs the Jeff Galloway (a celebrity runner for RunDisney) method. Which they run for 15 seconds then walk for 15 seconds. What happened was that in the narrow part of the course, the pacing group caught up to me and walked while I was in the middle of them. Then they started to run, and the woman directly behind me thought I was part of the group too and ran into me thinking I was gonna run too. She knocked me down on the ground as my thigh hit the pavement hard. She helped me up as I hobbled to a nearby tree to help me stretch out the impact. I did continue to walk for the next 8 miles, saw my wife and son at Magic Kingdom! Then, before I entered Animal Kingdom, I started to feel a sharp pain in the thigh where it hit the road. So at mile 10 I requested to end my race as the medical people told me that is the best option as I could make that bruise into an injury.
So even though this was the first time in 5 years I couldn’t complete the full marathon, I still had fun and don’t regret anything that happened. Only thing I do regret was not training more, as if I was actually running I could’ve ran faster than the pacing group or at least have enough built up muscle in my leg that I could’ve just walked it off.
What about you guys, have you done a RunDisney race before? Knowing that Disney Afternoon characters appear in the race, does this inspire you to go out and do one yourself? As for me, expect to see me again at Disney World in 2020 for the 15th anniversary of the Goofy Challenge! This time, I will get my finisher medal!!
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