Getting Goofy

by Lani Teshima, staff writer

When Disney's Wide World of Sports officials announced that they were splitting the 2006 Walt Disney World Half–Marathon and Marathon events into two separate days back to back over a weekend, some individuals complained that this would cause some inconvenience. There is one group, however, that cheered about the change. These individuals have decided to make the most of the new format by registering for both events to participate in the first ever “Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge.”

Yes, you read right. There is currently a group of approximately 200 to 300 individuals who have registered for both Saturday's half–marathon and Sunday's full marathon events. By Sunday afternoon on January 8, 2006, these people will have officially run or walked 39.3 in the preceding 30 hours.

Such incredible feats are not unknown among the marathon event circuit; the Rock 'N Roll Marathon and Country Music Marathon series of events (organized by the same group), for example, offer various medal incentives that are available only to those who run a combination of halves and fulls. And to provide incentive, Disney is doing something similar: It is offering a special third medal for those who finish both. Those who have asked Disney race officials about this mysterious third medal have received the following response:

Yes, that is true.

We think that doing something like that; running a Half Marathon for a “Donald Duck” on Saturday and a Full Marathon for a “Mickey Mouse” on Sunday, sounds kind of “Goofy.” If you know what I mean. So if they finish both, people deserve a third “special medal.”

Have a magical day!

Individuals who have already officially registered for one of the events recently received e–mail from Disney Sports: If you run both events, you not only get your Donald and Mickey medals, but you also get a special Goofy medal, never before available for the WDW Marathon event.

Are you an experienced runner or racewalker who is ready to go beyond a marathon, to add a half–marathon to your weekend plans next January? Why not sign up for both, and do the “Disney Double?”

Does the concept of running a half–marathon and marathon back to back seem completely unfeasible and daunting to you? Not all the Disney Double participants are experienced ultra–marathoners. Some are marathoners who are ready to push on with the additional miles, while some are triathletes who are accustomed to doing more than just one distance activity during an event.

Kurt Jensen of Long Island, New York, has registered for both events and plans to continue cross–training about 15 hours a week, because he races in triathlons. “I think it is very important to cross–train in order to stay injury free and healthy. And the endurance that you pick up from swimming and biking carries over into running.”

Another participant who has registered for both events is Vicky Merry, from the Pensacola area of Florida. Unlike Jensen, Merry is strictly a racewalker, and does not run. She has, however, successfully completed over 20 half marathons and just as many full marathons since the 1980s. Merry is contemplating entering a 50–mile event in Houston in early December, and believes that she can build up her ultra–distance training for both events.

Some participants, like Adam Rojas of Duluth, Georgia, have not officially run ultra distances. However, Rojas ended up running more than 26.2 miles for a previous Disney Marathon, anyway. “After completing the marathon, my mother–in–law informed me that my father–in–law was struggling. I went back on the course about 6 miles, found him, and helped him finish the race.”

According to marathon expert and trainer Hal Higdon, the concept of running back–to–back long runs on Saturday and Sunday is not at all far–fetched for someone who is training for an ultra distance (anything over a marathon distance of 26.2 miles). Higdon said: “In my ultramarathon training programs (available on, I prescribe back–to–back long runs on Saturday and Sunday as the best way to develop endurance for races over 26 miles. And when you follow a half marathon with a marathon the next day, you essentially are doing an ultra. Even my Intermediate marathon training programs feature a pace run on Saturday followed by an easy long run on Sunday, at peak a 10–miler followed by a 20–miler. Someone following one of my Intermediate schedules would be well prepared for the Disney Double.”

Unlike an ultra–marathon, however, doing the Disney Double entails taking a significant break on Saturday. Higdon suggests taking it real easy after the half–marathon on Saturday, and scheduling a massage for the late afternoon. “If you promote this approach, I hope Disney has enough massage therapists to satisfy everybody's needs,” he said. He also recommends an ice bath and a nap, but discourages participants from taking Ibuprofen (which may hinder recovery) or visiting the parks on Saturday.

Not everyone thinks they should waste a perfectly good day on resting. After all, the reason many of these marathoners continue to return to do the Walt Disney World Marathon every year is to have an excuse to visit the resort. For example, triathlete Jensen plans on visiting a park on Saturday. Merry doesn't plan on just resting, either, although she is not quite as ambitious as Jensen. “I'll be there with several friends, so we'll talk and maybe visit the [Fitness] Expo again. Downtown Disney is a great place to go that doesn't cost anything to get in. However, I accept I'll have to make a few purchases!”

Those we spoke to, however, for the most part just plan on taking it easy, making sure to rehydrate their bodies in preparation for the second day.

In addition to hydration, food will play a pretty important part of the participants' Saturday plans. Although everyone we spoke to specifically mentioned pasta, Higdon provided more specifics: “I don't wait to Saturday night. I sit down to a late lunch featuring carbohydrates several hours after the race, as soon as your stomach has time to settle. I would stay away from soft drinks and alcohol. Then another carb meal later that evening in addition to whatever you might eat before the marathon in the morning.”

Looks like pasta all day Saturday for the Disney Doublers!

Because the Disney events start so early in the morning, getting enough sleep may be particularly important for those planning on doing both events. Higdon notes, however, that since most runners are nervous before a marathon and don't sleep well, anyway, he recommends just relaxing and resting even if you cannot fall asleep. Charles Wait of Richmond, Texas, agrees that not resting enough on Saturday could lead to a Sunday failure. He plans to do his serious park visiting after the marathon. “The best thing about Disney is that the parks are there to walk through on Sunday afternoon and Monday. What other marathon has such an inviting open area to allow you to hobble/walk at your heart's content? At most other marathons, all you do is go home or to the hotel, and you're at work the next day.” Higdon covers the subject of post–ultra marathon recovery in “Mile 27” a chapter in his book Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. In it, he suggests replacing fluids immediately after crossing the finish line, then eating as soon as your stomach settles.

“In contrast to what you eat before a marathon, some protein afterwards will aid recovery. If using an energy bar, read the label to see if there is at least 20 percent protein for recovery. Then begin eating to replace glycogen, the same types of meals you might have eaten in the three days before the race,” Higdon said, “The best time for a post–marathon massage is 48 to 72 hours afterwards. Schedule one before you board the plane to Orlando.”

To prevent injury, Higdon tells runners to do no running (or much of anything else) for the first 72 hours after the event.

Although some participants plan to return to work immediately after marathon weekend, some plan to spend the post–marathon days visiting the parks… and showing off their medals. Charles Wait cannot wait to visit the parks after the marathon. “In addition to the bragging one does with the medal, it's probably the best way to work through the soreness.” In his case, he will have the option of wearing all three medals, or wearing just the Goofy medal alone, since Goofy will be the rarest of all medal types in the parks.

Then there are those who may actually end up with four medals because they plan to also participate in the 5K—because for the first time, Disney is expanding its offering of a finisher's medal for the 5K to adults as well as children. Mark Druckenmiller, from Pennsylvania, has registered for all three events. “This year the plan is to have four medals, the Fun Run, Donald, Mickey, and Goofy. It will be like a Mr. T starter set with all that jewelry.”

The most unusual thing about Druckenmiller is not that he has plunged head first into registering for three events, but that he does not follow a regimented marathon training plan. Instead, he stays fit from a variety of sports. When the marathon arrives, he puts his running shoes and simply heads out the door. “Thing is, I don't train. When I say that, I mean it; not like others say they don't train. I literally get up on marathon morning, not having run except in other sports and stuff since the previous year's race. I do a mixture of running and walking. Basically I run until I get tired or feel like stopping and then walk until I feel like running again. I don't go by time or distance or anything, just when I feel like switching. Anyway, I finished my first marathon that year ahead of both of my sisters in around 5 hours and 38 minutes. “

Mark's sytem is highly unorthodox and strongly discouraged, since it invites injury—although it does to some extent depend on how much of a workout a person gets in other sports. For Mark, the “run several minutes, then walk” system developed by Jeff Galloway seems to have worked.

Registering for both the full and half events does not give you a discount, but you do get all the accoutrements of each individual event, such as the finisher's medal and race T–shirt. At $95 for the marathon and $85 for the half (not including processing fees), this is not an event for the budget–minded.

Most of all, however, is that those who complete both and who receive a Goofy medal will have the kind of bragging rights not even the Mickey medal–wearers will be able to boast next year.

Registration for both events are still open… but they won't be for long. Traditionally, registration for both events fill up by the summer. By splitting the two events to two separate days, Disney plans to allow upwards of 18,000 participants in each event. While this may be the reason for the events not filling up yet, if you are considering entering, you probably should not wait much longer.

Registration is available online through an interactive form (link), although it may require that you register for the two events separately. If you choose to mail in your registration using a print–out of their PDF form (link), also available from their Web site, that form has a checkbox for specifying that you wish to register for both events. The price for both events, either registered online or by mail, is $180.