Many of us dream of running many runDisney races and earning multiple of those beautiful medals. Imagine earning FIFTY! Gail Savidge earned her 50th Disney medal during the Dumbo Double Dare in September. She graciously offered to answer a few of our questions regarding her experiences during her many runDisney races!
What runDisney events have you experienced?
My very first Disney race was the Walt Disney World Olympic Distance Triathlon in 2005; ran it with Team in Training.
- Goofy Challenge (Perfectly Goofy)
- Coast to Coast Challenge (Perfect Coast to Coast)
- Disneyland Half Marathon
- Wine & Dine Half Marathon
- Princess Half Marathon
- Tinker Bell Half Marathon
- Dumbo Double Dare
- Walt Disney World Olympic Distance Triathlon
- Race for the Taste 10K
- Disney’s Minnie Marathon Weekend: Women Run the World 15K
What race has been your favorite?
I’d have to say my favorite is the Inaugural Goofy Challenge. It was my first full marathon and I was just so happy to finish! I had a friend run the half marathon with me and several friends run the full marathon with me so it was great to be able to share the accomplishment with my friends. Running the Goofy Challenge for my very first full marathon was totally doable, but maybe not my best decision ever. It didn’t kill me and I’ve come back every year, but I did have a moment of panic that day after the marathon. While I was not out running and/or walking, I was feeling pretty good about myself. That was until the next morning. Got out of bed and legs felt a bit stiff – not a big surprise. Went to the bathroom and my legs proceeded to start shaking uncontrollably – leaving me stranded on the toilet. I had to use my arms and drag myself up and off. If I’d have had to have my husband come in and rescue me, I never would have lived it down!
Most recently, I had a great time at the Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare Challenge at Disneyland with the Coast to Coast Challenge – I mean, it’s the race where I got my 50th runDisney medal! I have never dressed up for a race before and I went all in for this weekend – Mad Hatter for the 10K and Mouseketeer for the Half. It was a completely different race experience for me to stop at all the character photo opportunities – I did some of my best race photos EVER. It was a great way to mark my runDisney milestone!
What changes have you seen runDisney make for the better (and for the worse)?
Medals and Race Shirts! Not all Disney races used to include a medal and/or a race shirt. I do have some fun stuff they handed out instead of medals and shirt, such as an apron and an insulated lunch bag from 2 years of the Race for Taste 10K and swim caps from the WDW Triathlon – but you gotta love the medals.
Social media. I love that you can find like-minded runDisney lovers on Facebook and Twitter, that their are training and nutrition plans and advice on the runDisney website, and that runDisney has become a big running family.
The multi-race challenges. I’m a sucker for these at this point. Had a great time at Dumbo Double Dare Challenge this year and can’t wait for the Inaugural Dopey Challenge and the Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge (with the pink C2C medal) next year!
Crowds. Recently, the crowds have gotten overwhelming at several races and expos. Disney definitely has the space and staff to correct this issue going forward, but I’m glad this wasn’t my first runDisney experience.
Expo merchandise. It’s a big bummer to want to purchase and then have the items be sold out just a few hours into the opening day of the expo. It would be great to see pre-orders on race merchandise to prevent the run on items, long lines, and bummed out participants.
What race are you most looking forward to?
I’m pretty excited about the rumors of a Disneyland Paris race and a Hawai’i race at Aulani. I’m in for both if/when they are announced!
I’m crossing my fingers I get in to the 2015 Goofy Challenge – that will be my 10th! I’m starting to work on several of my running friends to try and get them to run the entire event with me. I’ve only managed to convince 2 friends to run the Goofy Challenge with me over the years.
What medal is your favorite?
I love all of my Disney medals. A Disney medal is hard to beat but, if I had to pick, I would say the very first medal I got at the 2005 WDW Triathlon. It was this race and the friends I made during training as part of Team in Training that got me hooked on running and running at Disney. Without this first medal, I wouldn’t be here telling you about my journey to 50 runDisney medals – CRAZY!
Is there a race you wish they would bring back?
I’d love to see the return of a triathlon to Disney property. As the area surrounding WDW got more and more developed, the off-property bike course got a bit hairy so I totally understand that this played into the decision to do away with this race – but it was pretty cool swimming in Bay Lake, biking the surrounding orange groves, and running through property.
10K races seemed to disappear for from the Disney race schedule a while in favor of half marathons, but they seem to be making a come back and I think that is great. A 10K is a great entry-level race and opens up the runDisney experience to “early career” runners who might think a half marathon is too daunting.
If you could create a runDisney race, what would it be?
A Ragnar Relay type race would be awesome…Vero Beach to Walt Disney World, maybe? The ultra version could be Disneyland to Walt Disney World!
What advice would you give to a new runDisney runner?
Disney (either coast) is great place to experience your first distance race. There are race distances for every level and you cannot beat the on course support. You will want to ensure that you listen to your body and run your race – it’s easy to get caught up in the energy and excitement of the event and go out too fast. And if you’re running Goofy or Dopey, I suggesting waiting to walk around the parks until after your races!
What is it about runDisney that makes you keep coming back for more?
It’s a very different experience than any other race I’ve ever run. There are the serious runners that are just there to run their race and there are those runners that want to savor the moment, dress up, and have a party over the entire course. It’s a crazy, wonderful experience and something I think every running should do at least once.
For me – regardless of the weather, the crowds, what corral I’m in, what time I run – I ALWAYS manage to finish a runDisney race with a smile on my face. That smile makes me remember what I love about running. If that’s not a reason to keep coming back, I’m not sure what is!
A BIG thanks to Gail for allowing us to interview her on this amazing accomplishment. We can’t wait to meet you at an upcoming runDisney event. Here’s to your next 50 medals!