Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Guest Blogger: Matthew Rork and his Disney Challenge...

Here's a post by my buddy, Matt Rork, fellow Coolidge dad, Police Officer, and running enthusiast.  Matt has had the pleasure of running Disney a few times and he graciously offered to share his experiences.  Enjoy!!
Matt & his Thin Blue Line Flag

My running journey is much like any other. As a kid, I grew up running to stay in shape for sports and as an adult, I ran to stay in shape as a police officer and eventual father of 4. When I finished the academy, I was in the best endurance shape of my life and vowed to the OIC that I would complete the NYC Marathon. Well, with added life and all of its experiences, it took a Father's Day present in 2012 to get me to the start line of my first race. And what better place to complete 13.1 miles than in the Happiest Place on Earth. 

The first mistake of what has become my running life was talking to the retired NYPD Officer on the airplane to the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in 2013. Or better yet, allowing the kids to listen to his adventures as a Perfect Goofy runner. We came to learn that he had completed every Goofy Challenge, finishing the half marathon and full marathon in the same weekend. Before we landed, the kids were convinced that I should do it the following year. 

Earl Start for Matt & the kids, 5K
After completing my first half marathon a few days later, I decided the kids and our new friends were literally GOOFY! I am pretty sure I vowed that I was done and wasn't going to run anything that long ever again. But as the days, weeks and months passed and I was back to a normal running routine, my thoughts were brought back to the half marathon and possibly the Goofy Challenge. So in April, as I opened the registration page, I discovered not only Goofy but a brand new Dopey Challenge. Only those runners Dopey enough would complete a 5K, a newly introduced 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon all over a 4 day weekend. And so was born my now crazy obsession to remain a perfect Dopey Runner, finishing the first 4 challenges from 2014 through 2017.

No year has been the same, each challenge has been its own experience. We've had travel adventures and weather difficulties, but more importantly, we've always had fun. This year was no different as my 7, 10 and 12 year olds got up their first morning at 4:15 am and finished the 5K with me! The following morning the 10K proved uneventful, however late on Friday, we were informed that because of predicted thunderstorms on Saturday, the Half Marathon was canceled due to safety concerns. The full marathon had its own weather issues, as a marathon in Florida should not be below 30 degrees at start. But no matter the weather, no matter the time, no matter the transportation logistics, my family was at the finish line as I crossed with my Thin Blue Line American flag.

Disney Marathon
There is no experience like completing 4 races in 4 days, where you get to travel through Epcot (4 times), Magic Kingdom (twice), Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Crossing the final finish line and hanging a total of 6 medals around your neck (Pluto 5K, Minnie Mouse 10K, Donald Duck Half, Mickey Mouse Full, Goofy and Dopey) brings a smile to even the most accomplished runner. 
Although it turned into a Grumpy 35.5 miles instead of a Dopey 48.6, the adventure is always worth it. Mornings starting at 3 am for transportation to the start, followed by hours in the parks after the races makes 5 days in Disney fly by. So although I always feel like I need a vacation after our runcation, rest assured that I have my alarm set for 1 week, 1 day, 1 hour and 10 minutes prior to the opening of registration for Dopey 2018. And as my wife and I sit with 2 computers, 2 phones and an iPad trying to beat the quick sellout, we know that many more adventures await for our family.

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