Magical Moments happened in Orlando at Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge Jan. 5-7 for Matt Gray.
The budget analyst for the Blast Injury Research Program Coordinating Office ran a total of 42.4 miles during the recent 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Gray ran a 5K (3.1 miles) Friday, a half marathon (13.1 miles) Saturday and a full marathon (26.2 miles) Sunday. The half marathon was finished by 17,102 runners and 16,883 runners finished the full marathon. Only 5,947 runners completed both races, known as the Goofy Challenge.
"Disney was a good place for people who are just starting out. There are a lot of water stations, you can run or walk with enough time to finish the race, and you can even get your picture taken with some of the Disney characters. The scenery is great because you run through all four parks," said Gray. Gray, an ex-smoker, completed the half marathon in 2:06 and the full marathon at 4:47:02.
"I haven't smoked in 14 months. I decided to replace that bad habit with running," said Gray.
He said that he and his twin brother are always looking for some type of crazy activity to do together and decided to run a marathon. They looked for a nice place where they could take their families hence Disney World.
Gray had never participated in a marathon.
He did admit that his grandparents were marathon runners. They both ran marathons until they were in their seventies.
To condition his body, he trained for six months, peaking at roughly 40 miles per week.
The initial plans for the marathon started off on the wrong foot although things turned out better than expected.
Before the event Gray's twin brother incurred a knee injury and wasn't able to join him for the Goofy Challenge. Christie, his pregnant wife, wasn't able to run her 5K on Friday so he ran for her.
"Since I had her bib on, I could hear people cheering me on, saying, 'Go Christie!'," said Gray.
The weather wasn't friendly. Gray ran in subfreezing temperatures and sleet. Not only that, his watch and headphones both died before the start of the marathon. He had no other choice but to relax and just enjoy the experience.
His motivation for the full marathon was his wife waiting for him at mile marker 24. Once he saw her, he knew there were only a couple more miles.
Another motivating moment while he was running was following a man wearing a shirt that read "LPF>DNF>DNS" which means a "Last Place Finish" is greater than "Did Not Finish" which is infinitely greater than "Did Not Start". "I really liked that shirt. It definitely put things in perspective for me."
Gray said he would do it again however he would prefer warmer weather.