Going Long

Disney Marathon (Dopey Challenge)

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Garson - Sudbury,ON,Canada

Member Since:

Apr 20, 2013



Goal Type:


Running Accomplishments:

I ran my first marathon in 1998: "The Friendly Marathon" in Massey, Ontario.  I was 32. I had never raced in a shorter event, and I trained really poorly - ended up running it in 4:00:30.  After that, I gave up running for the most part for 6 years.  I got into karate a bit more seriously, until I got my knee kicked out and had ACL surgery.  Then I became a 'fair weather runner' and started to run half marathons every so often.  As a priest, entering weekend races always meant having to book a holiday, so it just didn't happen much.  My holidays were primarily focussed on various canoe and kayak trips.

At some point, I started training more consistently, and started to think of myself as a runner.  I guess doing that in your 40's is better than never doing it at all.  I even started to wonder if I had it in me to qualify for Boston.  Well, I did - twice.  First time didn't count, I suppose, since I didn't make the "cut".  But the second time was a charm, and on my sixth Marathon, run in Chicago in 2015, I beat my BQ by almost 6 minutes.

Through it all, I've made tons of mistakes - and have had lots of injuries to show for it.  Hopefully, now that I'm in my 50's, I'm a bit wiser and can use that to my advantage to continue running for a very long time.

My PRs:

5k (11 run):      Guelph, ON.     October 10, 2016   (50 yrs.)   20:10

10k (9 run):    Collingwood      October 5, 2013  (47 yrs.)  43:37

Half Marathon  (22 run): Cleveland   May 18, 2014  (48 yrs)  1:33:08

Marathon (8 run):  Chicago       October 11, 2015   (49 yrs.)  3:24:07

Ultras (4 run):   

Run for the Toad 50k Trail   September 30, 2017 (51 yrs.)  5:31:23

Niagara Falls 100k   June 17, 2018 (52 yrs.)  12:26:30

That Dam Hill 24 hours   September 15-16, 2018  Completed 100 Miles in 23:20:44

Sulphur Springs 50 mile Trail   May 25, 2019  10:37:27

Click for Options

Pacing my sister in her 1st Half Marathon.

Short-Term Running Goals:

The Disney Dopey Challenge in January, 2019.   That was fun

Sulphur Springs Trail Ultra (50 miles) in May, 2019.   That was muddy

The Haliburton Trail (100 Miles) in September 2019.

A1A Fort Lauderdale Marathon in January 2020 (qualify for Boston)

The Toronto Marathon in May 2020 (qualify for Boston).  A maybe.

The Sinister 7 Trail (100 Miles) in July 2020 (big maybe).

125th Boston Marathon on April 19, 2021.

Long-Term Running Goals:

Run until this old body of mine won't let me run any more.  I was inspired in the Spring of 2016, watching the start of the Ottawa Marathon.  Near the back of the pack was an 'old man', running with his walker.  I loved it!  I thought ... there's me in 20 years.  Maybe.  


I am a Roman Catholic priest of 25 years, ministering in the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie.  I spent 8 years ministering in the small town of Wawa (where I helped establish the annual Blackfly Run) and 9 years in Sault Ste. Marie.  I have been in the Sudbury region now for 8 years.  Currently I Pastor 2 small Parishes:  St. John the Evangelist in Garson, and St. Bernardine of Siena in Skead, covering the area just Northeast of the city, surrounding the Sudbury Airport.

Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 22.00 Month: 163.50 Year: 1310.42
Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2 Lifetime Miles: 270.00
Brooks Cascadia 11 Lifetime Miles: 171.50
Triumph ISO 3 Treadmill Lifetime Miles: 391.50
Saucony ISO Triumph 4 Lifetime Miles: 168.00
Nike Zoom Vomero 13 Lifetime Miles: 16.00
Race: Disney Marathon (Dopey Challenge) (26.2 Miles) 03:48:36, Place overall: 689, Place in age division: 38
Total Distance

And to think this whole thing is my reward to myself for completing a 100 miler in September!

As I mentioned yesterday, the first quarter and a bit of the course today followed that of the Half.  So, no surprises along the way.

In Corral B, a pacer set up shop beside me.  3:40.  Run Walk Run.  Gallagher style.  I figured that was useless to me, cause I don't walk and so haven't trained that way.  And I was pretty sure a 3:40 was beyond me today in any event.  I was starting off pretty tired.  Further back in Corral B was another Gallagher pacer.  3:50.  I thought I might try to stay between the 2 of them.

I ended up doing exactly that, with an official pace of 8:44/mile.  I am actually pretty pleased with that, all things considered.

It was the warmest of the 4 race days.  Start time temperature was 16C/61F.  So, just pleasant.  And though it felt warmer when the sun came up, when I finished it was still only 18C/65F.  So heat wasn't much of a factor.

At mile 5, I made a quick pit stop.  That allowed the 8:50 pacer and his group (good sized group) to catch up to me.  Turns out to be a bit annoying (just a bit - it wasn't that bad).  The pacer stuck like glue to the right side of the course - which is the proper thing for him to do.  I was running the tangents.  I'm not sure what the timing was.  Maybe run 5 minutes/walk 20 seconds.  So, in the running phase, it was a touch faster than my pace and they would pass me or just come up on my tail.  And in the walking phase I would pass them or come up on their tails.  And the pacer would announce loudly "WALKING IN 20 SECONDS" and then he would count down from 5-4-3-2-1 WALK.  Same thing in reverse when it was time to run.  What begins as a novelty becomes a grain of sand in the shoe over time, it seems.

Anyway, I never really felt in a grove.  It's different starting off a Marathon on tired legs.  And it took me a long time to finally decide that yes, I WAS going to finish this thing running.  But even then, I was just waiting for the bottom to fall out.  That's why I was pleased that my pace was pretty even throughout.  I also decided somewhere in Animal Kingdom to pull ahead of the pacer group.  Maybe not "decided", but it just sort of happened and so I intentionally took advantage and picked up the pace just slightly.  

That was good, as I never heard them again until I hit the track at ESPN.  I had ducked in for another quick pit stop somewhere in the complex (mile 18, give or take), and I guess that allowed them to close the distance.  So, going around the track, with me up on the big screen, the announcer said "And here is Michael Williams from Canada, looking great", which really made me feel great.  And right after that "And here is the 8:50 pace group".  Drat! :)

The only real hills on the course are the overpasses.  But there is a doozie around mile 22.  That Toy Soldier guy was doing his best to inspire people to dig in.  But when I got over it and was on the downside, I really noticed my legs were not happy with me.  I considered just coasting in for the final 4 miles.  But then, the pacer passed me.  A much smaller group with him by now.  And something kicked in.  I just decided to come in before him.  I could see that he was on pace for an exact 3:50, so at mile 23, I finally made up my mind re: goal time.  It was going to be under 3:50!  :)

And I did it.  My final 3 miles I ran at 8:28, 8:17 and 7:55, with the final half mile push clocking in at 7:18.  Half mile, because despite my best attempts at running the tangents, I STILL ran a quarter mile longer than required (at least, according to my GPS).  And I can honestly say that the surge was not because I had too much left in my tank.  It was a combination of really wanting to beat 3:50, the crowds, the nearness of the finish line, knowing I didn't have to run tomorrow, and simple adrenaline.  Oh, and some upbeat songs along the boardwalk too!  Still, I managed a 'jump' at the finish line (still waiting for the pictures to be posted to see if I actually pulled that off - it wasn't easy).

Speaking of upbeat music, I really reigned myself in at mile 20.5 when they blared out "Footloose".  That's my "you run hard, boy" song, and I knew it was way too early for that.

And speaking of pictures:  for 4 days, I watched runners pull off the course and stand in line to have their pictures taken with Disney characters.  And I mean, some of the lines were like 20 people long.  I just shook my head.  I guess I'm not a huge Disney fan - can't understand why you'd want to do that in a race.  And I mean, it was happening every mile (I don't know if the same people stopped - or do you just stop at your favourite characters?)  Plus, last night I looked up the prices for buying those pictures.  OUCH!  $17/picture, or $200 for all of them.  And for this Canadian boy, that would be more like $260.

Too bad - some of the photos I've seen of me are really good ones.  Ah well.

Anyway ... I'm rue to admit ... I stopped for a photo with a character today.  Twice.  But only because there was nobody in line at the time.  It was a whim.  The first time was with some dudes dressed in mouse and duck costumes.  The duck spit all over me when it talked.  The second time was with The Incredibles.  Now, I DO have a weakness for Elastic Girl.  But I found her cold and distant during the 2 second photoshoot, so I think I'm over that now.  And no, I will not be paying for the pictures.

My official placement hasn't been posted yet, so I'll add that as an edit later today, when I get back from Church.

My official splits were:

5 Mile        44:43  8:44/mile

10 Mile   1:28:26  8:45/mile

Half        1:55:17  8:39/mile

20 Mile  2:55:38  8:46/mile

Final 6.2 3:48:36  8:31/mile        8:44/mile average

So, I ran negative splits, telling me I started off with a pretty well chosen pace for this race.

EDIT - official placing:

Age division:      38/684

Men:     552/5,984

Total:    689/11,960


Saucony ISO Triumph 3 Miles: 26.50
Weight: 0.00
From Mike on Sun, Jan 13, 2019 at 15:43:06 from

Congratulations! The Dopey Challenge is an incredible feat.

From Tom K on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 09:48:26 from

Congratulations for seeing the whole series through! That is really great work!

Running in @75 degrees at the race finish had to be rough on someone from the great white north!

A 3:40 Gallow-walk pacer? That's a low number for run-walk alternating, I think. Wouldn't it be easier to just run a bit slower?

The overpasses! With the cross-slope, too! Awful. Just awful.

I appreciate that you are trying to experience more of Florida, than just Disney.

Great Race(s)! I'll see you later!

From jtshad on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 20:36:07 from

Congrats and well done. You did great despite not feeling in the groove. That is an interesting race considering the crowds, curves, etc. The overpasses were challenging especially seeing as most come in the second half.

From Rhett on Wed, Jan 16, 2019 at 13:06:22 from

Great job considering it was you fourth race in four days. Crazy!

From Michael on Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 08:03:11 from

Thanks everyone. I wasn't sure this was the race for me, but I'm very glad I did it. More of a holiday than anything else; it was my first time going somewhere warm in the winter. Would not be hard to get used to! Great meeting you Tom. I did register for New York.

Dinner's on me if we both make it there!

From Nora Jo on Sat, Jan 19, 2019 at 13:14:05 from

Congratulations on completing the Dopey! My son and I completed that challenge last year. Our starting temperature was in the low 20's! I like your temperature better! We attempted it the year prior, but the half -marathon was canceled due to lightning and rain. Disney brought us back for their 25th anniversary which was really great because we thought that it would be a one and done for us. I swore that I would not purchase any photos, but I caved. They are all so fun and memorable. I even had my medals framed! You've certainly done some great running over the past year! Good for you!

From Michael on Mon, Jan 21, 2019 at 12:35:19 from

Nora Jo, believe me, EVERYONE who was there last year was talking about the weather you had. Normally it wouldn't be so bad for us northerners, but there is SO much waiting around - I can imagine how cold it would have felt.

I saw those framed medals at the Expo, and I came SO close to caving myself. I just couldn't justify the cost - and we Canadians pay about 30% more on the exchange. I DID drop $20 to buy that finish line photo. My friends badgered me until I did. But it was worth it. Thanks for your comments - I hope this is a healthy running year for you.

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