Running the Walt Disney World Marathon at 50

Age is just a number- and it’s as psychological as it is physical. Taking on a major challenge can help you decide yours.


One of the things I love about what I do is hearing amazing fitness stories. It’s especially gratifying to hear them from staff who have been with me for a long time—they never cease to inspire me!

Maureen Hagan, or “Mo” as we know her at GoodLife, has been with the company for 30 years and is the person responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of all our group fitness programs.

Just three months before turning 50, Mo decided to celebrate her birthday weekend by running the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 8th in Orlando, Florida. In the beginning the motivation was a Mickey Mouse medal. What she experienced when she crossed the finish line was something far greater.

“Though my goal was simply to run the marathon, I learned much more about myself than I had in a very long time,” she told me. ”I changed some habits and got healthier, not to mention keeping my ‘marathon once every decade’ dream alive.”

As soon as she made the commitment to run the marathon, her focus sharpened. “I began looking at the small things that I could change that would make a big difference in my training and recovery,” she said. She had to contend with a chronic hip and back injury and knew she needed to commit 100% to the training process. “Equally important, I needed to commit to following a structured running schedule—without excuses.”

Running a marathon, particularly without excuses, takes a lot of motivation and training. Mo followed the Walt Disney World Marathon training program consisting of three weekly training days with two short runs during the week and a longer run on alternating weekends.

Mo was already teaching four fitness classes a week, doing some personal training and adding yoga stretching into her routine. However, the training required still more of her—getting up for a 6 am run once a week in preparation for the 5:30 am start time on race day.

“Training for a marathon not only got my feet on the street and my body outdoors more often—rain, shine, even snow—but the ben- efits I continue to reap will linger long term,” she said. In November, while presenting at a conference in Vancouver, she decided to do a short run to alleviate stress and jet lag. Before she knew it she had run the entire Stanley Park seawall. “It had been 15 years since I ran the loop around Stanley Park’s coastlines—an undeniably beautiful experience. Outdoor runs like this invigorate your outlook. Any self- doubts you might have do an about face.”

As important as the training details were to Mo in completing Disney’s 26.2 miles and crossing the finish line, it was how she did it that I admire—all positive attitude in a tutu and a tiara!

As to how that victory felt and what it means, Mo says it best: “Running this marathon helped me realize that age is just a number. It’s what you do to train for the race, the goals and challenges you set and the run that is your everyday life that determines your age and how you age. I feel like I’m 20 in body, mind and spirit.”

Every day in our clubs we coach our members on reaching goals. Inspiring stories like Mo’s go a long way toward motivating others and realizing we can choose the number we are happiest with!

David Patchell-Evans is CEO, GoodLife Fitness, and bestselling author of The Real Sexy, Smart and Strong.



Want to run in the Walt Disney World Marathon? Registration is now open for January 10-13th, 2013.

Bring the whole family! Choose from many races/walks including many Kids Races throughout the weekend, including the Mickey Mile, a Family Fun Run 5K on Friday, the Half Marathon on Saturday and the Marathon on Sunday. There is also Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge which involves running the Half Marathon and the full Marathon – 39.3 miles!

2013 is the 20th anniversary for the Walt Disney World Marathon- so it will be extra special!

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