A week ago I completed the final of my planned races since starting running last year. My first race (The Portsmouth Half) was on February 11th 2011 and since then I have participated in two 10k’s, four half marathons and five full marathons. Considering when I started my Tumblr I had never run further then the length of a Rugby field I feel I have come along way in 16 short months.
This is my race recap of the Goofy Challenge - one hell of a way to close out my running plans.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! -
My alarm, set for 3am, was blaring in my ear. Two seconds later BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! my roommate and ever there running partner Chris’ alarm started to go off. Neither of the alarms woke me up. I had already been awake since 2:30am and I was checking my dashboard and Facebook, excited and extremely nervous of what the next 36 hours would bring.
As Chris was stirring in his bed two feet from my very own, I jumped up and proclaimed that I was going to have a shower to help wake me up and get ready. All the preparation had been done the night before. Garmin’s and iPods were charged, fuel belts were stocked and last but not least, the most exciting part of racing, number bibs were pinned to T-Shirts.
We had no chance of getting any Breakfast as we had to be at the front of the hotel by 4am to guarantee a space on one of the hundreds of coaches that Disney was laying on for guests that were running that weekend. As we waited for our turn to board our bus it was fun to see so many people up at this early hour. Some were in full fancy dress, with lights and neon headbands obviously collected from a previous night at one of the nighttime Disney parades. Some were wrapped up from head to toe as if they were about to venture into the coldest depths of an Antarctic exploration. For Chris and myself we had just our running gear as we were impressed at how mild a Floridian January morning was.
We set off on our bus journey to the start village and were immediately greeted by a sea of tail lights as we passed over the first of many overpasses. We both looked at each other and grinned, our last minute decision to stay at a Disney Hotel had payed off. The busses were rushed through the traffic and we only spent about 5 minutes waiting to get into the car park. Being conveniently dropped off by the entrance to the start village.
From there we checked our bags in the baggage tents and walked through to the holding pen. We waited until 5am until the gates opened and we began what turned out to be a long, long walk to the corals. This was our first glimpse of getting to see the ‘behind the scenes’ areas of the Disney parks. As someone who has visited Disney World at least once a year since the age of 11 this, to me was really (REALLY!) interesting. Getting a chance to see behind all the smoke and mirrors to what life is really like in Walt Disney World.
It was about a mile or so from the holding pen to the Corals and the narrow service road that we, and 23,000 others walked along was littered with the remnants of old rides that had been abandoned at the side of the service roads. A graveyard of semi dismantled carts form the Hollywood Studios backlot tour all bleached from the Floridian sun.
At 5:30am the race was started with a countdown from Donald Duck and a Firework display that only Disney can do and we were off.
The first 4 miles were all highway as we made our way from Epcot to The Magic Kingdom, passing the seven seas lagoon and entering The Magic Kingdom at Tomorrow World before being directed through a stage door which lead through the backlot linking up with Main Street USA. This was the first time we had seen any crowds and they were 5-10 deep. The noise was intense, it was still dark but there were so many people.
Halfway long Main Street USA I saw in the distance an Orange sign with ‘Go Rob!, Go Chris! - The Internet Loves You’ I looked up and there was Holly. I was so glad to see her and immediately ran up to her and gave her a big old sweaty hug. Seeing someone you have never met before while running a race was a strange feeling but one I will never forget. Seeing her standing there with her homemade sign gave me a lump in my throat and really summed up what this, what Tumblr, is all about a group of people giving support to one another with a shared interest. The fact that Holly had got up at 3am and drove an hour and a half to see was, well it is still, hard to put into words.
We then got to run through Cinderella’s Castle before rejoining the highway to run back towards Epcot and the Finish line. There really isn’t a lot to write about for the second half of the race as it was all highway. Entering Epcot felt greg and again the crowds were huge. I saw Holly and the sign again and she managed to snap this picture of me (I think its actually one of my best race photos)
You can even see where I have ripped the neck open due to the neck chaffing caused by the cheap charity T-Shirt.
I turned the corner and the finish line came into view.