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When dentist completes marathon, he’s already at Disney World

February 19, 2019

By David Burger

Dr. Alan Young running
The Force: With a “Star Wars” hero on his heels, Dr. Alan Young runs the Disneyland Marathon in 1995.

Orlando, Fla. — When visiting Walt Disney World, it can feel draining keeping your kids in tow, enduring long lines and making it to all the rides by the time either the park closes or when exhaustion sets in.

It feels like a marathon.

For Dr. Alan Young, an actual, literal marathon at Disney World is ideal for what has become, for him and his wife, The Happiest Place on Earth.

The California dentist has run more than 200 half-marathons and 62 full marathons. But the crowning achievement is that he believes he is the only person who has completed all 26 Disney World marathons over a 25-year-span as well as the only one at Disneyland in 1995.

He has been recognized by runDisney for his commitment and endurance and has no plans on stopping now.

“I have been a fan of the Disney movies, theme parks and grew up with the Mickey Mouse Club,” Dr. Young said. “I would like to participate for as long as physically able. There are participants into their 80s and hope to be one of them.”

“We both moved with our family to California at a young age,” said Dr. Young’s wife, Grace. “Getting to go to Disneyland made a life-long impression.”

Once Dr. Young ran the first Disney World marathon in 1994, he and Grace, also a runner — having completed 22 of the Disney World full marathons and 39 total marathons to date — were hooked.

“The Disney races are high-quality and accommodate runners of various abilities,” Dr. Young said. “Disney World races are run entirely on their property.  The marathon course has well-controlled roads, goes through the ESPN complex and the four theme parks. There is support and entertainment for every runner. Jon and Betsy Hughes, the race director and his wife, and the whole Disney team have done a spectacular job of envisioning and developing the races.”

Ms. Young said other highlights of the Disney World marathons include the chocolate stop at mile 23 and a full-robed gospel choir a few hundred yards from the finish line.

“We have run a lot of races, but acknowledgement of the first 10 years with a Mickey Mouse statue really made the legacy runners of the Walt Disney World Marathon feel special,” Ms. Young said.

Missing one wasn’t an option for Dr. Young. In 2013, he tore a hamstring in the November before the January race.  “The last weeks of training were limited to walking,” he said. “Literally, I did not start running until race day.  I did not know what the outcome of the day would bring and was never so happy to see the finish line.”

Jon A. Hughes, director of Disney Marathon/runDisney, applauded both Dr. Young’s efforts and character. “As race director for the Walt Disney World from the very beginning, I can confirm that Alan Young has completed all 26 Disney marathons,” he wrote in an email to ADA News. “Alan’s commitment to run every marathon has been unwavering. He has run the event in all types of weather conditions, from temperatures in the 80s to, yes, even sleet and snow one weekend here in Florida. But not only has he battled the elements, he has had to overcome injuries and push through physical pain. If you are a marathoner you know that there are mental and emotional barriers that only get more challenging as one gets older. It is obvious that Alan is a dedicated runner who is mentally tough and physically fit. But he is also one of the kindest, most caring individuals you could ever meet.”

When Dr. Young began his California practice in 1981, he felt stressed out about the overwhelming aspects of starting off on his own. So Dr. Young took up running to relieve the stress and also, as he said, because “Putting on a pair of running shoes was convenient and inexpensive.”

Dr. Alan Young and his wife, Grace
Haul: Dr. Alan Young and his wife, Grace, sit with some of the medals he has won since starting competitive marathon running.
In 2018, Dr. Young retired but still practices two days a week in he and his wife’s new home in coastal Seal Beach, California. Living in the Golden State has made it possible for him to train year-round, he said. “Running gives the opportunity to exercise, socialize and have contemplation time,” he said. “It is a good way to blow off steam. Fortunately, we live in an area with weather more favorable. We do not gear up for specific races, but are continually training. As soon as an event is over, we just move on to the next.”

Dentistry has a lot in common with running, Dr. Young said. “In my career since 1979 and a runner, there have been tremendous advances in technology and an increased appreciation for how vital a healthy dentition and physical activity is in an individual’s overall well-being.”

He continued: “When I started running, I never imagined the impact the activity would have in my life and career.”

Dr. Young and his wife are living happily ever after.