Taking on Disney's Coast to Coast Race Challenge

The Coast to Coast Race Challenge dares runners to tackle a half marathon at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in the same calendar year. Karla Bruning is answering the call. Photo: runDisney/Todd Anderson

NEW YORK, January 16, 2012—Anyone who reads my column knows I like a good challenge. The Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak? Check. Four hours on an elliptical machine? Dunzo. My first triathlon? In the bag.

So I’m making my first goal of 2012 another challenge—runDisney’s Coast to Coast Race Challenge. Runners who finish a half marathon or marathon at both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California in the same calendar year receive a third medal to mark the occasion. I do like a nice medal.

Runners are automagically (as Mickey Mouse would say) entered into the challenge when registering for qualifying races, which include the Walt Disney World Marathon, Walt Disney World Marathon Relay, Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and Disney’s Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World; and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and Disneyland Half Marathon at Disneyland.

A new year calls for a new challenge. But I often find that the best way to plan for the year ahead is to start by looking back. As I sat down with my training calendars of yore, I noticed something startling. Of the 41 races I ran in the last five years, only three of them were half-marathons. I’ve run more marathons than that. In fact, of the seven distances I commonly race—1 mile, 5K, 4 mile, 5 mile, 10K, half-marathon and marathon—the half-marathon is my least trod event.

Not only that, of the three half-marathons I’ve run, I raced only one; the other two were fun runs. And yet, for the last two years, one of my running resolutions has been to break 2 hours in the half marathon. But if I never run any, how can I possibly accomplish that?

That’s where the Coast to Coast Race Challenge comes in. If I really want to break 2 hours in the half, I’ve got to race—and train for—halves. It’s that simple. 

As luck would have it, I had trips planned to California and Florida that happened to neatly coincide with Disney’s Princess and Tinker Bell Half Marathons in Walt Disney World and Disneyland respectively. I saw it as a sign. My lifelong love of Disney would finally help me see this goal through.

Fresh off the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak that ended on New Year’s Day, I had a nice 40-day, 100-mile base to work from. So from Jan. 1, I mapped out an 8-week half-marathon training program to prepare me for Disney’s Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 26. That might be my first attempt of 2012 at finally breaking the 2-hour barrier. 

But before then, in just two weeks, I’ll put my first half of the year under my belt with the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon. I don’t plan on racing it, but doing it as a training run. For Tinker Bell, I’m going to concentrate on getting the distance under my legs, and more importantly, having some fun. I’m even toying with the idea of getting into the spirit of the event with a fun costume. As the first women’s focused race ever held at Disneyland, I imagine there’ll be plenty of ladies—and even a few gents—decked out in their Disney best. It’s also my first trip to Disneyland, so the occasion warrants a little something special.

But the Coast to Coast Race Challenge will certainly be a real test for me. I’ll be logging as many half-marathons in two months as I did in the last five years. But if my first runDisney race—the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon—was any indicator, it will be the most fun challenge I’ve done to date.

For more information about the Coast to Coast Race Challenge visit runDisney.com.

Karla Bruning is a veteran journalist and running nerd. She has completed four marathons, trains with the New York Harriers and is a member of New York Road Runners. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at RunKarlaRun.com, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.


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Karla Bruning

Karla Bruning is the host of On The Run, a TV and web show from New York Road Runners. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, American Athlete Magazine, RunnersWorld.com, Active.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, Orlando Sentinel, and two dozen other outlets including ESPN2, Universal Sports and ABC in New York. She and her work have also received mentions from The New York Times, Runner's World, Fox Sports, Canadian Running, The Baltimore Sun, and PBS among others. She also covered the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver for The Washington Times.

 

A former Newsweek reporter, Karla has won a Fulbright scholarship for American journalists and reporting grants from the Scripps Howard, Carnegie and Knight Foundations. Karla holds degrees from Amherst College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

 

When not pounding the pavement as a reporter, Karla is pounding the pavement as a runner. She has completed seven marathons, four triathlons, trains with the New York Harriers and is a member of New York Road Runners. She is a writer, editor, and on-camera reporter dedicated to covering the sport of running from a runner’s perspective. Find Karla on RunKarlaRun.com, Twitter@KBruning, Facebook and Google+.

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