Last spring I got to thinking that I really wanted to do a destination race. The kind where you travel somewhere far away, run a cool race, and then take a few days to relax before you come back home.
I talked to some of my friends who have done similar things in places like Chicago, Las Vegas, New York, and of course Boston. Everyone had good suggestions, so to make the decision easier I decided the best thing to do would be to concentrate more on the when, versus the where.
Looking at my calendar I knew that I already had race plans for most of the summer and fall. There was the Bayshore Marathon in May, the Mohican in June, the Great Lakes Relay in July, the Crim in August, Dances with Dirt in September, and the Brooksie Way in October. That meant the earliest I could schedule anything would be sometime in November. And for me it seems like I always have some kind of non-running commitment every weekend in November and December. So that meant the next available time period would be sometime in January.
Now that I had the when decided, it was time to pick the where. Well, one of the easiest things about picking a race in January is that the numbers of options are limited when the goal is to run something long distance. A quick Google search for "January marathons" returned results for places like Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas.
I would like to say that I took some time and evaluated each race, but as soon as I saw Walt Disney World Marathon, my decision was made. Yes, the idea of running a marathon through the Walt Disney World Parks was really appealing. But the part that sealed the deal for me was the event they call the Goofy Challenge.
The Walt Disney World Marathon is a weekend long event consisting of a 5K (3.1 miles) on Friday, a 1/2 Marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday, and a Full Marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday. The Goofy Challenge is basically like registering for both the 1/2 and full marathons.
With the race picked out, the next major obstacle was to convince some friends that they should go to. This is not an easy task. Especially when the race requires time off work, travel by plane, and etc. It took a couple of months, but in the end I persuaded my girlfriend Belinda and two other couples to join us.
Overall I very impressed with Walt Disney World Marathon. It was the most well organized race I have ever participated in. There were practically no lines for the toilets. All of the aide stations were stocked with supplies and volunteers. And it seemed like the entire race course was lined with families, staff, or some kind of entertainment.
My only warning about running the Walt Disney World Marathon is that it will spoil you. Most of the races that I have run typically have problems like not enough toilets, aide stations that are not equipped, long stretches without any crowds, course not marked, etc. I understand that organizing a race is not easy task. There will be problems and I am ok with that. It was just nice to see that someone could actually do it near perfect.
Walt Disney World Marathon http://espnwwos.disney.go.com/events/rundisney/wdw-marathon/