The Goofy Marathon Challenge

Jan 11th, 2009


    Yesterday, I experienced one of the most miserable runs this year, if not for an entire decade.  It was bone-shivering cold; it snowed, then rained giving all 20,000 plus runners a dripping wet feeling from brow to bun. C'mon, I could get this cold treatment back home in DC.

    It was the coldest Disney Marathon on record and arguably the longest cold streak in the sunshine state in a seeming eternity.

    To add frostbite to injury, I dropped and cracked my Canon video camera; my legs perpetually stayed frozen, if not cramped, and I was literally on the verge of acquiring a mild case of hypothermia, if not pneumonia.

    My bitter memories of yesterday crammed down my brain as I rammed down the snooze button not yet ready for the morning with all its searing pain ahead, but over the horizon, there would be lots to gain. Even though I knew it would hurt, I knew in a way that not completing this would be a mistake. I came to Disney to run and run I shall. 


    As I mentioned the day before, I wanted to see how far I could push myself to reach my upper limit of physical ability.  VO2 max, endurance, heart rate, muscles and joints -- all would be seriously put to the test today.

  But the Goofy Challenge wasn't strictly physical.  It was a social economic opportunity as well.  I also wanted to capitalize on the opportune moment to meet a diverse group of people, young and old, from all walks of life and from all over the world. I wanted to meet them, see what made them tick and to be inspired by their greatness and gratitude for limit-free living.  

     And I had other personal motives.  I also wanted to use the marathon as a way to tour the theme parks, and perhaps catch a few rides (Dinosaur in Animal Kingdom, Rock and Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios), go country hopping along the International Gateway -- In doing so, I would gain a greater appreciation for other people, their cultures, and why it is truly important to take time to smell the Glories.


    The decision I had to make was whether to push myself hard, or to take my time and value the nuance of the moment.


    As usual, I wanted to make the best of each and every moment I held a pulse.  I was firmly committed to make this experience both wholistic in events and wholesome in lessons-- so I decided to capitalize on the prime opportunity to visit each theme park that we ran through and to chat and get to know some of my fellow runners and sightseers.


    I was inspired by the service and commitment for Distance 4 Dreams that each year fundraises hundreds of thousands of dollars to sponsor the wish of a child with a life-threatening disease to spend a week at Disney World.

    The wonderful young ladies who I met were specifically raising money for Paige and her family to stay at Give Kids the World Village.

   I was also inspired by Walt Disney, himself, the quasi-experimenter and quintessential entrepreneur.  He used his imagination to chase his dreams and to spread his wings.  

   What was amazing about the founder of the "Happiest Place on Earth" was that he was resourceful and clever in making the best choices despite his spartan and unstructured upbringing. 

   Another neat thing about Disney is that he did not set off on a single career.  Instead, Disney continually reinvented himself.  He started out drawing, then started making films.  Then he opened up Disneyland and started planning Disney World before his death at 65.  If something didn't work, he wouldn't mind going back to the chalk board to start all over again.


    The "I" in RUNIN also stands for Innovating.   Cigna, who is sponsoring the Marathon events, has been experimenting with a virtual reality game designed to help treat cancer in young adults and children.

    Disney as a company is also known for its Innovation.  From its purchase of Pixar to its reinvention as a digital entertainment powerhouse, Disney has recently entered the emerging field of visualization.

   In terms of its theme parks, Disney has taken steps in taking its theme park experience to the masses by building niche resorts and hotels such as the 550-room, 15 acre hotel they are building close to "my backyard" in National Harbor, MD.  After for many years in the early 90's planning a national park near the Civil War battlegrounds in Manassas, they decided to build a hotel in PG County instead.

    This is marketing ingenuity at its best.  In today's economy, a niche resort hotel will compete for the pocketbooks of those Disney-fun travelers who want the experience but not necessarily the expense.


So the entire experience was incredible and up lifting.  

I learned a lot from others, all perfect strangers who became priceless inspiration and indelible, incredible memory for all of us as they ran in honor of  those touched by cancer, tragedy or war or for simply for just the challenge.  Some had lost close friends.  Some had lost a family member.  Virtually everyone I ran into became lifelong friends as we ran in step to experience a miracle occur right in front of our own eyes.

    They were willing and able to beat the odds to complete a remarkable task -- The Marathons of Miracles.

    So, this weekend I experienced both the hardest and happiest runs of my life, and I'm a better man because of it.

    Can't wait till next year and especially next week, when I can register. Hopefully by then I can feel my fingers as they click against my laptop keys. 

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