Jordan and Kyle Anderson under the “Mickey Mouse” ears in Orlando, Fla., after participating in the Goofy Challenge, an endurance running event in which a marathon follows a half-marathon on back-to-back days.   SUBMITTED PHOTO
Jordan and Kyle Anderson under the “Mickey Mouse” ears in Orlando, Fla., after participating in the Goofy Challenge, an endurance running event in which a marathon follows a half-marathon on back-to-back days. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Jordan and Kyle Anderson, Kingsland graduates and running enthusiasts, participated in the Goofy Challenge during the weekend of the 20th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon Jan. 13, in Orlando, Fla.

To earn the coveted Goofy medal, runners must complete the half marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday followed by running the full marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday. The Donald Duck medal is awarded to all half marathon finishers and the 20th anniversary Mickey Mouse medal to all marathon finishers, but the Goofy medal, for finishing both races in two days, was the ultimate prize. Admittedly, they were both a bit "goofy" to attempt 39.3 miles, but they were up for the challenge, reports his mother, Robyn Anderson, formerly of Spring Valley and now of Rochester.

"The magical event was one to see. From our perspective as spectators, it was truly a scene," she said. Jordan and Kyle Anderson are the sons of Dan and Robyn Anderson and grandsons of Marilyn Majors of Spring Valley.

Trading some sleep for the opportunity to participate in this event, their pre-dawn alarm got them to their starting corral by 4:45 a.m. for the 5:30 a.m. race start. The half marathon started at Epcot Center with fireworks and fanfare and took them to the Magic Kingdom on a route dotted with marching bands, hundreds of Disney characters ready to pose for photos, and other entertainment.

The 20,000+ runners had an entourage of supporters along the course cheering them on. Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom was lined with cheering spectators and Cinderella's Castle was transformed into an ice castle draped in beautiful frosty lights welcoming the runners through its gates near mile six. The half marathon finished back at Epcot Center to more cheering crowds.

After collecting their medals and some much needed nourishment and hydration, it was time to take it easy the rest of the day. Cooling their legs in a bath of ice water, a relaxing afternoon at the resort, and a round of mini-golf were enough activity prior to the next day's marathon.

Unseasonably warm temperatures for January, approaching 20+ degrees above normal, accompanied the family all week. Although Anderson noted that there were no complaints from the Minnesotans and Iowans, the early morning start when temperatures were cooler was actually welcomed by the runners.

On day two, with the same pre-dawn start, the marathon kicked off with a repeat of the fanfare and fireworks for each starting corral. The non-runners accompanying the two decided to board the monorail to secure a better viewing spot at the Magic Kingdom and found the crowds even more fierce on with nearly 3,000 more finishers in the marathon (23,000) than in the half marathon. Text messages to their phones allowed them to keep track of Jordan's and Kyle's pace times along the way.

The course for the marathon took them on a 26.2 mile route through all four Disney World parks. Starting and finishing at Epcot Center, the course took them past iconic landmarks in the Magic Kingdom, followed by a lap around the WDW Speedway racetrack en route to The Animal Kingdom, then on to Disney's Hollywood Studios, the ESPN Sports complex (including Champion's Stadium where the Atlanta Braves hold Spring Training), before a lap through several countries in Epcot's world showcase took them to the finish.

Jordan reached Mount Everest (in Animal Kingdom) just after mile marker 13, but a disappointing and painful ankle injury forced him to end his attempt at finishing the marathon to earn the coveted Goofy medal.

Kyle continued flying solo, and his parents cheered him on at Epcot Center to his awesome 3:36:36 finish. And that included a couple of short stops for character photos with Jiminy Cricket and Sully from Monster's Incorporated along the way. Of course Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy, the perennial crowd pleasers were at the finish line to high-five the jubilant finishers.

"Disney really knows how to host an imaginative event and it was fun for participants and spectators alike," said Robyn. "A cool down party later that evening was held at Downtown Disney for runners to relax and celebrate. It was a remarkable weekend and memorable event. I'm not sure if other race events could ever compare to this one when it comes to a fun, whimsy and extraordinary fanfare."