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26.2 magical miles

| Academic & Student Affairs, Monday Letter, Our People

While most folks were still snuggled in their beds, College of Public Health staff members Dave Hogeboom and Samantha Lopez had visions of a famous mouse dancing in their heads.

On Sunday, January 13, they joined more than 25,000 runners for the Walt Disney World Marathon. It marked the 20th anniversary of the race and was one of the hottest (80+ degrees at the finish), but the event held more significance for the duo—it was their first marathon!

After months of training, running in the dark, and a few half-marathons, they armed themselves with Gu, water, and traded the comfort of their hotel rooms for a charter bus en route to Disney’s Epcot Center.

“I was fine until I got on the bus, then the butterflies hit me,” said Lopez.

By 5:30am, the corrals filled with runners, walkers, and everything in between. They stretched and reminisced about past races.

The corrals organized runners by their estimated finished time. When a new group was ready to begin the race, the starting gun fired.

And, not just any gun. Remember, this is Disney were everything is done in grandiose style.

Each group of runners was dazzled by a magical display of fireworks as the starting gun fired and they began a 26.2-mile journey through Disney’s four theme parks.

Characters were out and photo opportunities were plentiful. “The event was well organized with lots to drink and eat before, during, and after the run,” said Hogeboom. “They took good care of us and the route was fun and not too hilly.”

“Not so,” said Lopez. “I wasn’t prepared for the hills.  Every time I got into a decent pace, I was faced with another incline.”

Neither understands why the run included Animal Kingdom. The sights were not picturesque, but admit that the pungent smell encouraged them to pick up pace …

In a post-race text, Lopez said the run was “Easy peazy.” Later that day, she toured Downtown Disney with family and felt great.

Fast forward to the following morning and Lopez walked with a little less pep in her step. “It was brutal coming downstairs in the hotel.”

“Personally, I found the run harder than I anticipated,” said Hogeboom.  “My body started hurting early—like around 13 miles—and after 20 miles I was running only on my will to finish.”

Immediately after the run, Hogeboom was confident Disney was his last marathon. However, a week after the race he’s not so sure.

Next month the duo competes in Tampa’s Gasparilla Distance Classic. Over two days, they’ll run a 15K, 5K, half marathon, and 8K—the Ultra Challenge.

And, Lopez plans to visit the mouse again. She is already training for Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge in 2014. If fairy tales really do come true, she will run a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday and a full marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday.

That really is goofy!

Samantha Lopez, MEd is an instructional/multimedia designer in the Office of Educational Technology and Assessment. Her running career began in the fall of 2011 when she and colleagues formed COPH Milestones to participate in the 2012 Gasparilla Distance Classic.

David Hogeboom, MSPH, CHES is a data manager in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs. He ran in a previous life, but was reintroduced to the sport via COPH Milestones.  Hogeboom earned a master of science in public health from the University of South Florida College of Public Health