Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg man ready to go 20-for-20 in Disney marathons

St. Petersburg’s Rue Morgan is set to add a medal and complete 524 miles at Disney.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

St. Petersburg’s Rue Morgan is set to add a medal and complete 524 miles at Disney.

Rue Morgan will be happy just to make it to the starting line of Sunday's Walt Disney World Marathon. The 70-year-old St. Petersburg resident and a founder of the Mad Dog Triathlon Club hasn't missed the race in 19 years.

"This will be an even 20," said Morgan, who along with his wife, Kathy, are pioneers of the Tampa Bay area's endurance sports scene. "I've had my ups and downs. But the important part is just showing up."

The sold-out race, which goes through all four resort theme parks, has developed into one of the largest marathons in the country. This weekend's events, which include races from a 1-mile fun run to the 26.2-miler, are expected to draw more than 65,000 participants.

Morgan remembers the race's humble beginnings.

"We had just wrapped up the triathlon season," he recalled. "Why not run a marathon?"

Morgan and his wife had just started their triathlon club, now the largest in the country with more than 3,000 members.

"There was no shortage of training partners," he said. "And the race was only 1 ½ hours away. So we just had to go."

Morgan headed to Orlando with a handful of Mad Dogs and booked a hotel room.

"I remember I was having some knee pain, so I had to decide whether or not to have it 'scoped before or after the race," he said. "I felt like I was in such good shape that I just went ahead, had the surgery, and one month later, I just went out and ran the race."

Morgan's time: 3 hours, 58 minutes, 22 seconds.

In the decades that have followed, Morgan has slowed a bit (his time was 5:51:13 last year). But he said he's ready to join the 94 others, including more than a half-dozen from the Tampa Bay area, who have run each race and whom organizers have dubbed the "Perfect 20."

"I never really considered making this a streak until probably the seventh or eighth year," Morgan said.

The 13th race was particularly memorable, he said.

"I forgot to train. My wife was wondering why I was I going to the starting line," he said.

"That was a hard one. Training is highly recommended."

But after 15 years, he knew the consecutive runs meant something because the race organizers gave him a large plaque.

"It has my original number on it, which was assigned to me from then on."

One year, at mile 20, a young woman approached him and asked if they could run together. "She never looked up," he said. "She just looked at my running shoes."

Morgan wanted to slow, but he felt obligated to keep the pace up. He thought the young woman was visually impaired.

"Finally I asked her if she could see," he said. "She said yes. But when she looks up, it makes it a hard race, but if she looks down, it is an easy race."

January 2010 was the coldest marathon. The temperature registered 26 degrees at the start. "At the first water stop, the volunteers told us to take our water from the tables on the left," he said. "The water cups on the right were frozen because they had poured them too early."

As he gets prepared to run his 20th Disney Marathon, Morgan said consistency is the key. A runner must follow a solid training plan but allow for injuries and time to heal.

"Looking back, I'm always amazed at the power of the mind," he said. "Mental toughness is a major part of sports."





. Fast Facts

20th Walt Disney World Marathon weekend

When/where: Today and Sunday, Lake Buena Vista

What: More than 65,000 runners will participate in kids races, a 5-kilometer run, a half-marathon and a marathon. There are 27,000 in the half-marathon today and 25,000 in the marathon Sunday.

Information: rundisney.com

St. Petersburg man ready to go 20-for-20 in Disney marathons 01/11/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 9:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. HomeTeam 100: Players 41-50

    Footballpreps

    Bulldog QB Charles Harrison III, (12) during the fourth quarter of the Zephyrhills at Nature Coast High School football game on Friday, 11/11/16.
  2. Lake Tarpon bass tournament still going strong after nearly 40 years (w/video)

    Outdoors

    Matt Smith, left, and Gary Muchler, work to bring a large mouth bass into Smith's bass boat with only minutes to spare while fishing off Dolly Bay in Lake Tarpon during the Lake Tarpon Tuesday Night Bass Fishing Tournament on Tuesday (7/18/17). The fish sealed second place for the duo.
  3. Rays series preview: Who are the Orioles?

    Blogs

    After the Rangers swept them over the weekend, the Rays won't have much time to rest, with 14 games scheduled for the next 14 days. The second half of their homestand begins tonight against the Orioles. Here's the information you need to know about Baltimore before the action kicks off.

    Starter Wade Miley has melted down after a hot start.
  4. Sergio Romo celebrates striking out Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers to win Game Four of the Major League Baseball World Series at Comerica Park in 2012.
  5. New Bucs player murals go up at Raymond James Stadium

    Blogs

    Each summer, it's a sign that training camp is soon to arrive at One Buc Place: the changing of the huge player murals on each corner of Raymond James Stadium.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has a corner mural at Raymond James Stadium for a third year in a row.