What Running the Goofy Challenge Has Taught Me

For those that are not familiar with the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge, it consists of running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday and than the Walt Disney World Full Marathon on Sunday.  That totals 39.3 miles for the weekend.  Some people also run the 5k on Friday morning and call it doing the “Dopey”, but there is no additional medal for this.

After running the Goofy Challenge for a second time (and much better success), I thought I would share what I have learned.

I train for the miles, I however didn’t train for the back to back 2:45am wake up calls, followed by 3 hours of waiting to run.  Maybe I should?  To prepare for the Goofy Challenge I would do my normal short runs 2 to 3 times a week for 3-6 miles and than on Friday and Saturdays I would do back to back long runs so my body got used to the long distance 2 days in a row.  For example, one week I would run 8 miles on Friday and 10 miles on Sunday, and than the next week I would run 10 miles Friday and 12 miles Saturday.  Since I run a pretty consistent race schedule all  year I don’t usually pass 22 miles in my long training runs, just an FYI.  (If you can run to 22 on a training run, you can make it to 26.2 in a race.  Please note that I am not certified or a doctor and this is my opinion from my experience.)  My body was definitely ready for the miles.  It wasn’t ready for the lack of sleep though.  We come from the west coast, so my almost 3 year old wouldn’t go to bed until midnight, no matter how hard I tried.  In order to get ready and out of hotel in time to catch the bus to the race start you need to be on a bus BY 4:00am, so I set my alarm for 2:45am so I could snooze until 3:00 and be out the door by 3:30 to catch a bus by 4:00am.  Once dropped off in the Epcot parking lot it is a pretty decently long (and crowded) walk to the starting line, probably about a mile.  Once in your starting corals you wait for the start.  Coral A starts at 5:30 and each coral after is spread out by 7 minutes.  So when all is said and done I was awake for 3 hours before starting to run.  People asked me after the race how I felt and I told them that I was totally mentally and physically prepared for the run, but not for the lack of sleep.  It has been 2 years since I had a baby who wouldn’t let me sleep so I am out of practice.  I might consider doing some super early runs in preparation the next time, just so mentally I am prepared as well.

This next topic can be some what personal, but I spill it all and I’m an open book, so here it is.  When running 39.3 miles in one weekend, articles of closing that don’t normally cause chaffing probably will.  I learned the year before that when I got dressed I put vaseline along all the seems of my sports bra.  You can also use body glide.  I find both work equally well.  At the end of the full marathon your body is a little numb, so you won’t necessarily realize you are chaffing and it might be to late by the time you realize it.  I never reapplied the vaseline during the run because I didn’t feel any chaffing, but after the race when I took off my sports bra I found the bottom band had rubbed all around me and it definitely wasn’t comfortable.  On the race course the med tents hand out vaseline so it would’ve been really easy to reapply.  Next time I will reapply half way through even if I don’t feel anything.

I personally always have 2 pairs of running shoes that I train in and alternate.  They are both the same shoe (Newton Momentums), but this way if something happens to one pair, such as wetness or mud, I don’t have to run in the damp pair the next day.  Running in damp shoes is never fun.

After running a half marathon on Saturday and getting up early I was getting hungrier than normal on the full marathon.  On the course they hand out bananas and towards the end chocolate.  This doesn’t quite suffice.  I usually bring fruit snacks with me for the full marathon.  You know, the kind of fruit snacks at the grocery store that are basically artificially colored sugar candy that we don’t want our kids to eat.  I find the sugar in them does the same thing as a goo, but they fill a growling tummy a little better.

I also run with a small roll of Tums.  I get acid reflux from the whole toll on the body, plus the goo, and the sports drinks.  The Tums help all of this, other wise I start to feel a little upchucky, for lack of a better word.

My best advice for people is to remember to listen to your body!!!!  If you are in pain it is telling you something, same with if you feel tired, or you feel sick.  The Goofy Challenge isn’t a race to try to PR.  It is a race to have fun and to say that you did it.  Enjoy the course and the photo opps with the characters.  These races are very crowded courses due to the amount of runners and parts of the course are narrow, so don’t wear yourself out bobbing and weaving in and out of runners.  I made this mistake the first year I did the Goofy and according to my Garmin I zig zagged so much I added an extra 1.2 miles on to my 13.1 miles!  In every race you typically run .2-.5 more miles than the actual distance due to zig zagging and not taking the shortest route, but 1.2 miles is A LOT!  Especially during a 39.3 mile weekend.

A Goofy Challenge is tons of fun with proper training and the right mind set!  The second time around was even more fun than the first!!!  And my family thinks I’m totally crazy now, not just half crazy 🙂


  1. KP | 25th Jan 13

    I commend you on your sleep-deprived efforT!! We were fortunately enough to be able to leave the kids at home when we did our Goofy Challenge, and we still spent the week leading up to the races getting up an hour earlier every second night (i.e. 5am, then 4am, then 3am), knowing that the time difference would probably do us in (hello, 3am in Orlando is Midnight back at home – WHOA!!). And yeah, between races I pretty much slept and ate and nothing else.

    Great article! 🙂

    • thehalfcrazymama | 25th Jan 13

      That is a genius idea on the getting up a little earlier each day. Next year when my daughter is a little older I’m hoping it will be a little easier to get some extra sleep 🙂

Leave A Comment