As a huge fan of Rundisney events and Disney races there often is talk in Facebook groups about what if they did a triathlon in Disney? Many respond there’s no way that could happen. Well, long ago it did. I participated in it three times. The Danskin Triathlon Series. It was a mini-triathlon that took place in and around the Magic Kingdom.
I participated in 2002, 2003, and 2004, before the days of Facebook, Twitter, and iPhones. Digital cameras were just coming on the scene. Many don’t even know it existed. I had a hard time finding any pics online from it, so I needed to dig out the old photo albums. Please excuse the lack of quality of the pictures.
So this was a sprint triathlon sponsored by Danskin for women only. The proceeds supported breast cancer. It consisted of a quarter mile swim.
It took place in the Seven Seas Lagoon, off the beach between the ferry that takes you to Magic Kingdom and the Grand Floridian. The area close to a recent alligator attack. Can you imagine 1,000 swimmers in that water at once? Worst part was I was so young and clueless I never once thought about alligators while swimming with my goggles in the murky water.
Next was the bike. It ranged from 10-12 miles between the three years I participated. We rode our bikes back behind the Magic Kingdom, and along the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resort.
Finally we did a 2 mile run throughout the Magic Kingdom. Starting in Adventureland, through Tomorrowland, through the castle and running up Main Street.
Things I remember
Hauling a bike on an airplane was a big pain in the butt. Then renting a vehicle to hold it was another issue. We all loaded the bikes on the Ferry the day before the race and had them ready to go at bike racks along the beach. I remember the prerace atmosphere along the beach. It was so exciting.
We all had to wear matching colored bathing caps according to which corral we were in. In the end the swim took me around ten minutes. They had lifeguards that went on a V shape and we swam back to the beach.The bike route was similar to some of the areas you run when exiting Magic Kingdom during the half or full marathon.
The run was exciting. We started near Adventure Land, making our way through frontier land and through the castle. When finishing the run, they had people cheering for us on Main Street.
The race cost around $60.00 at the time. Pretty cheap!!
The medals were very small. Probably the size of a half dollar.
A Funny Story
So one of the frequently asked questions was, what if I finish last? The Danskin Website said that breast cancer survivor Sally Edwards always made sure she’d come in last place so no one had to be last. (Important to the story)
The second year I did this race I was 5 months pregnant. So I decided to do a relay with my mom. I would do the swim, she’d do the bike, and we do run together. I don’t think I’d ever seen my mom ride a bike at this point.
So I complete the swim portion and send my mom on her way. I was waiting and waiting and waiting. I swear I saw the ambulance come back and didn’t see my mom. Finally she came rolling down the hill and I was relieved as we began our run/jog/walk through the Magic Kingdom.
So my mom and I are moving through the park trying to hustle when suddenly this lady comes up to us so smile. She says “hi, I’m Sally Edwards”. I couldn’t believe it. We were last!!!! We finished with Sally. And I was mortified. I should’ve been proud of my mom, but I was really embarrassed. We look back now and laugh at the story. We were last place of the Danskin Triathlon in 2003!
I really enjoyed these events. I wish I could go back in time and do again now that I’m a more experienced runner and have a deeper love of Disney. I feel so lucky that I was able to participate in this triathlon. And happy my coworkers at Southwest Airlines suggested we do!
This is so cool! My brother did 2 half iron mans at Disney in the early 2000’s and I immediately thought of all the swimmers when I heard about the alligator attack.
I also did the Olympic Disney Tri in September 2002 with Team in Training (Leukemia Society). I was just looking to redo it this year only to find they stopped. Not sure why. It was my first Tri and it was a great place to do it except being in fresh water there is lack of buoyancy.