On January 6, 2012, I had the privilege of attending runDisney‘s largest social media event to date at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Just following the conclusion of the Disney Family Fiesta 5K fun run held at Epcot, the “Meet Up and Warm Up” kicked off the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend by delighting guests with celebrity and fitness expert discussions, a warm up run, future runDisney race teasers and special treats.
Official runDisney Training Consultant and former Olympian Jeff Galloway was on hand to discuss his run-walk-run method and his excitement for being a part of runDisney.
Reality TV stars Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca were in attendance and discussed their excitement for their participation in the 2012 Walt Disney Half Marathon the next morning. Both have been crowned the winner of CBS’s Survivor in separate seasons and then teamed up to compete as a team on CBS’s The Amazing Race.
Tony Horton, the king of the ultimate fitness challenge workouts P90X, energized the event with his spunk and personality.
After an initial welcome by runDisney’s Robert Hitchcock, the group of 50 attendees and celebrity guests were promptly wisked away on a 1.8 mile warm up using the proven “Galloway Method” of run-walk-run. During this warm up, a 1:1 ratio was incorporated (run 1 minute, walk 1 minute, repeat).
As with any runDisney racing event, it is always a pleasure to run the streets of a Disney Park. This event was no exception. Passing by headline attractions such as Toy Story Mania!, The American Idol Experience and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror exhuberated the crowd of runDisney enthusiasts.
Attendees got the celebrity treatment with the cameras following the run course down the streets of Hollywood, Sunset and Pixar Place.
Next up, everyone sat down in the Theater of the Stars for a question and answer session with the fitness experts and celebrities on hand. Jeff Galloway started by telling about his long career that has included being a member on the 1972 Olympic Team. Now becoming the Official runDisney Training Consultant, Coach Galloway has teamed with runDisney to inspire and teach his simple and proven training method. His training plans are available on the runDisney site for any individual wanting to try a half marathon or even a marathon. He has always loved the Walt Disney World Marathon. In fact, he has ran in all of them since its inception in 1994. His race day tip for the attendees was to have mental preparedness. Despite probably not getting enough sleep the night before the big race, having a positive, winning attitude goes far during the race.
Tony Horton admitted to the crowd that he was not much of a long distance runner, but he admired anyone that could do a half marathon or marathon. He likes to keep it “extreme” with his heart-pumping cardio workouts. He discussed the importance of nutrition and keeping the “junk” out of your diet. He works hard at keeping his diet full of lean meats, fruits and vegtables. His only weakness is chocolate chip cookies, but said they only comprised 10% of his overall diet.
When someone asked to see his six pack abs, Tony did not disappoint.
Tony left of us all smiling and empowered. I left vowing to never eat another Dorito (which says a ton).
Ethan Zohn, winner of 2002 Survivor: Africa, took his $1 million Survivor earnings to co-found Grassroot Soccer which uses soccer to raise money and awareness to fight HIV/AIDS. However, in April 2009, he was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called CD20-positive Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His battle with cancer has been full of ups and downs. He and long-term girlfriend (also a champion of Survivor: Amazon), Jenna Morasca, have found that living a healthy lifestyle with exercise have gotten them thru his cancer ordeal. They both ran in the 2011 runDisney Princess Half Marathon and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Disney Show Director John Phelan then joined the stage with his boss, Mickey Mouse. He works with runDisney on “the show” during their events. He said making a runDisney event fun with characters and entertainment on the course is his ultimate goal. He loves to create surprises on the course with unexpecting and amusing elements. runDisney is constantly tweaking their events. They do listen to feedback from their running clients, such as from the runDisney Facebook page.
John pumped the crowd up with excitement surrounding the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon. The 20th Anniversary of the world renown marathon will be a huge celebration and not to be missed.
The newest member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel representing runDisney, Lori Lovell, was also in attendance for the event. She is a homeschool mom from Kentucky who obviously loves Walt Disney World and running. Her favorite runDisney event is the Wine and Dine Half Marathon due to the combination of running at night, 3 Disney Parks in one course and an after party.
Follow Lori on Twitter at @runDisneyLori or read her blog “The Run-derful World of Disney” http://runderfulworldofdisney.blogspot.com/. Or ask Lori a question over at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel question forum http://disneyworldforum.disney.go.com/home.aspx.
Finally, remember when I eluded to a “treat” earlier. John finished his presentation by getting us roused for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-miler Weekend to be held September 28-29, 2012. The 10 mile course will be unlike any former runDisney event with the start near Disney’s Hollywood Studios, going to Disney Animal Kingdom, then ESPN Wide World of Sports and finally for the chilling end at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As our “treat” and foreshadowing of runDisney’s newest race, we were given the opportunity to ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror as a group.
Another special treat for me was getting to meet blogger Darrell Fry from the Disney Parks Blog. He seemed quite surprised when I admitted I was a fan of his sports articles (even the ones about golfing) and that I read the Disney Parks Blog every day.
Back to that ride on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror…I have grown to really like this ride. And when I caught Darrell on camera holding on for dear life during the ride, I knew my work here had been done.
Thank you, runDisney, for such an awesome event!! After completing 13 runDisney racing events over the years, I will have to say this is one event that I am glad I did not miss.