Saturday, January 27, 2018

2018 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Report and Video - January 2018

Here is Holly's report from the 25th Walt Disney World Marathon. Dave took the lazy route and only spectated from one location. Many of the photos are from Disney's on-course photographers.

I did not want to go back to Disney and run their marathon one more time, but my entire group of friends was heading there for a reunion and I couldn’t pass up the chance to see all of them. Plus I had some unfinished business on the marathon course. Most of my friends were doing the Goofy Challenge but I wanted no part of another one of those multi-race challenges. I enjoy sleeping in and did not want to do that same boring half course that I have done too many times.

Florida was having a cold spell while we were there which meant that we would be freezing in the corrals and staging area for two plus hours before we started. I was bundled up with a heat sheet and a blanket and it was still chilly. 41 degrees is cold in Florida, it must be the humidity. The plan was to run with Stan, Alex and John with Lee catching up from one corral back. We finally got started just before 6am. Lots of great fireworks and Mickey Mouse sent us on our way. The beginning was cold and dark and it was a pretty boring run up World Drive until we got to the Magic Kingdom parking gates. At that point some characters started showing up. Lee caught us right around the Contemporary and promptly tripped and did the most amazing stuntman roll. He was very lucky he didn’t hurt anything.

New to the marathon this year was actually running through the front gates of the Magic Kingdom and under the train station. The Fire Chief and the trolley show dancers were up there and I started to get a little misty. I really enjoyed running up Main Street and through the Magic Kingdom. We stopped for a castle picture and then of course a real bathroom break. Unfortunately my interval timer came off during the bathroom stop and I lost the battery back to it. This would lead to me having to re-sync with John every couple of miles. He was a great sport and kept counting down for me. 5, 4,3,2,1- Liftoff!! Soon we were in dreaded cone alley, so narrow and crowded.

Next it was the turn onto the road to Animal Kingdom. Lots of old attraction vehicles back here and that was cool to see. I was watching our pace because I wanted to be sure we were going slow enough to get to Animal Kingdom after the park was open. That was my unfinished business. I wanted to ride the roller coaster, Expedition Everest, during the race. I have always chickened out in previous years, because it can make me motion sick and I didn’t want to risk ruining a Goofy or Dopey attempt. I was fine if I got sick this time around, no pressure. We got to Animal Kingdom right before 9am. We saw Dave and Charlie and they were stuck behind a rope and they weren’t letting them through. We were hoping they would ride with us. Luckily we stopped for another bathroom break and I had a line. This allowed them to go around another way and they caught up to us as we got to the Everest line. It was a long wait, about 20 minutes, but worth every second. I laughed and had the best time and best of all, no motion sickness. It gave me a nice adrenaline rush for the second half of the race. Mission accomplished!

After leaving Animal Kingdom we saw some of our cheer squad, Molly, Jan, Laura and Jill and they gave us some much needed snacks! Then it was on to Osceola Parkway where we saw Laura O, another fantastic cheerer, and she may or may not have had the best, coldest, Yuengling I have ever had. It was only Mile 16 here so I only had a couple of sips because we still had 10 miles to go! Next up the Wide World of Suck, I mean, Sports. Lots of turns and running on sidewalks made my lower legs hurt for the first time of the day. We were glad to leave that and soon we were in the Studios for my other checklist item of the marathon, a picture with Oswald! He was great and even did Oswald ears with us. Now it was time for the run to Epcot. This is also a narrow crowded section, but at the end you are rewarded with hug from Deb Wills (, the best!

Soon we were in Epcot and we had been tracking Pam, Stan’s wife, who was doing her first marathon. We knew she was not that far behind us, so I suggested we stop in Mexico and get some margaritas to wait for her so they can finish together. Stan and Alex were happy to hear this plan. We sipped our margaritas, gave ourselves brain freezes, and soon Pam arrived. It was great to see her and to watch her finish her first marathon so strong. And as a bonus, I checked off the last item on my Disney Marathon bucket list. I ran across the finish line with a margarita in my hand. I had a really fun day and I am glad I came back for one more Disney race. It was nice to run truly for fun and with no pressure. Running with friends is truly priceless.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2017 Gobbler Grind (Kansas) Marathon Race Report and Video

This report is a little overdue, but it's not as late as our final Alaska post. After the report you will find more about our weekend in the Kansas City area in Dave's comments and the race video.

Gobbler Grind was not my originally planned Kansas marathon, but the timing never seems to work out for the Garmin race in April. Gobbler Grind's Mid-November date worked well, except for the fact it was our anniversary weekend. Happy Anniversary Dave! We got into Kansas City late on Friday night and went to bed. Saturday was spent touring some KC spots, going to some breweries, and making our first visit to a Comic Con. That was quite the experience. We celebrated our anniversary at a nice Italian restaurant (Garozzo's) close to the hotel.

Sunday morning was race day and our hotel was very close to the start so we could sleep in a bit. It was a cold and dreary morning and I was bundled up. The course was mainly on a bike path/ trail with the beginning miles through the town of Overland park. I was running by myself for the first time in awhile and I was hoping to get under 5:30.

This was my ninth marathon of the year and my legs were feeling it. They were really feeling it by mile 7 but I think that was a function of some hills in the beginning part. We got to the trail part and broke away from the half marathoners and I started feeling better. It was not the most exciting course because it was all in the woods mainly. Dave did a great job of tracking me and seeing me along this trail, which felt like the middle of nowhere. I was watching my pace and knew I would be close to my 5:30 goal. I kept pushing the whole way and never gave up, but unfortunately I came in at 5:31. Just short, but I was happy to get close and that I felt great the whole way. I just couldn’t hold the pace.

This race was extremely well organized AND cheap! Registration was $70.00 and that included a $10.00 donation to charity. For that I got a hooded sweatshirt, a pint glass, a blanket AND a medal. The aid stations were all well stocked with water, Gatorade and tons of snacks including, gels, Powerbars, candy, pretzels, etc. I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a smaller race to knock off Kansas.

After the race we hustled back to shower before late checkout ran out and get to the airport (this is the last time I am flying out the day of the race!) Dave found a BBQ place (Gate's BBQ on State) on the way to the airport and we ate way too much, but it was good! Then we went to the worst airport for amenities ever, but made it home with no issues.

Dave's Comments

I never thought I'd spend a wedding anniversary at a Comic Con, let-alone a minor one. Kansas City's event lacked all the star-power of San Diego's event as well as most of its coolness factor. Stars we could have met included Burt Ward (TV's Robin), Margot Kidder (Superman movies), child voice actresses from Frozen, and Carrie Fisher's dog Gary. The main reason we went was to go to a panel with the hosts of the Wedway Radio Podcast. We enjoyed the panel but were mad when we figured out we could have attended that portion without paying for the main event. Oh well.....

The earlier part of the day was very enjoyable. After escaping the race packet pickup in a running store we made our way into Kansas City (the Missouri portion) and found the Laugh-O-Gram Studios building in an old section of town. This was Walt Disney's first business, established in 1921. We took our pictures very quickly so we could get back to more populated areas of town. Our next stop was Boulevard Brewing. We enjoyed some flights in their beautiful tap room. We opted out of the tour because it was going to cut into Comic Con time (regrets). We ate lunch at a smaller neighborhood brewery on the city's north-side (Calibration Brewing).

Race Chasing was interesting. I was able to see Holly three times the first three miles (and get Starbucks) before getting in the car and figuring out the course. On occasion I had to pull into subdivisions and find an artery trail to the main trail. The wet leaves on the hills made for tricky navigation. I lucked into an iconic donut shop. I also helped a guy look for his lost dog (no luck).

My other big miss was picking the BBQ place for lunch. I was focused on spots enroute to the airport. Once we arrived home we found out the hotel was only a mile away from one of the area's best places. Dang it!

Looking to kill time before your flight out of MCI? Do it before security. The airport terminal had some funky circular design that prevented them from having normal amenities like restaurants and ample seating near gates.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Epic 2017 Walt Disney World Christmas Visit - Part Three


Our third full day of touring felt like a Family Circus cartoon. We walked from our hotel, the Boardwalk, to Disney Hollywood Studios, then to Epcot, then back to the Studios, then back to Epcot, and finally back to the Boardwalk at 1am. The day's scheduled events created this crazy itinerary.

Our morning itinerary for the Studios was to hit a few rides. We were finally making a rope drop and were a few rows back from the rope. We said we weren't going to try to strategically snake through the crowd to get to the front but we did. The woman who was going to be first into the Tower of Terror queue made an unfortunate pivot right at the last second allowing us to take first! While in the park we rode Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours and watched the Frozen Sing-a-long with holiday tag-on. The decorations around the studio were great. 1940's style with lots of silver accents (Tinseltown).

After Star Tours we visited the new Baseline Tap House to grab some beer. We split a flight of four. It was nice that they had a variety of styles vs. a ton of IPAs. We took the cups out of the tray and double-fisted our way to the park exit so we could get to Epcot in time for the remaining Festival of the Holiday shows we had not seen.

Note on the weather: it improved enough to alternate between t-shirt and hoodie during the day. At night it was of course cold, but not as bad as the previous evening.

We fast-walked over to Epcot since we had a small window to make it to Mexico, Since we had to pass the U.K. Pavilion to get to Mexico we stopped in the pub for a beer. It was packed, but fortunately Carl the bartender recognized Holly (we haven't been here since September) and took care of us right away. We even had some bench time and took some video. We caught the full holiday show in Mexico. The gospel ensemble in Future World was excellent! We caught the Canadian band - which included members of Off-Kilter - and they were underwhelming.

When the Canadian show ended we took off for the Studios. Upon entering the park we ran into the Cavalcade of Characters or something like that. Stitch, the Evil Queen, Jasmine and Aladdin, and others were available for photos with very short waits.

We arrived in time to see the start of the Tower of Terror Sunset Seasons show. Projections play intermittently on the building displaying various holiday scenes with fan favorites that include Toy Story and The Muppets.

We were booked for the Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! Dessert Party. This event is usually held outside, but due to the weather (hot desserts can't be served outside) we were diverted to a ballroom behind Tower of Terror that used to house Darth's Mall on Star Wars Weekends. The snacks were lackluster as usual, but we did get to have unlimited prepaid beer and liquor drinks, plus special viewing glasses. The party gave us access to the front-row standing area for the show. We were so close to the Chinese Theater that a lot of the views of fireworks were obscured. Our special glasses turned the fireworks and other lights into Gingerbread men. This made us giggle non-stop.

Back to Epcot! We had tickets to a DVC (Disney timeshare) owner free event. Many rides were open, special character meets were available, and some locations had free food. We made it over while Epcot was still open. Dave stood on line for the Clarabell/Horace Horse Collar meet while Holly became one of the last guests to visit the Character Spot for Mickey and Friends photos.

We really did not do much during the party. We rode Test Track, ate hot dogs in The Land, listened to the DJ for a few minutes, visited Duffy (we love Duffy!) and that's about it. We left before the official end of the party making it back to the room by 1am. We packed our stuff since we were driving to Animal Kingdom then the airport the next day.

Dave hates when they hug him - even Duffy.


We decided to skip Animal Kingdom rope drop, which was a mistake. The wait to get through the parking lot till plaza was fifteen minutes. The B-Team was doing an awful job guiding cars into parking spaces. We probably lost a half hour. Today we had one goal: Ride the new Flight of Passage ride in Pandora. The last time we tried the ride was busted after we waited about 3 hours. No issues this time. The ride is fantastic! We met Mickey and Minnie in their holiday outfits. They were extra feisty that morning and decided to mess around with our hats and light-up necklaces. Holly loved it, Dave just wanted the picture snapped.

The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying a few rides, dining at Yak and Yeti, and having beers in Harambe on a stone bench taking in some warmish weather (finally) before heading back to MCO.

We left Florida tired-as-heck but enjoyed the holiday season at Disney more than we thought we would. We are looking forward to finding a way to take a another trip this time of year.