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Texas man gets warm welcome at Disney World — after a 2,800-mile run from Disneyland

If you’re ready for a good night’s sleep after a day at a Disney park, imagine running all the way from Disneyland to Disney World.

That’s exactly what a North Texas man did.

Iron man athlete Don Muchow, 59, was welcomed into Disney World in Florida with cheers on Tuesday after a grueling run spanning roughly 2,800 miles.

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The Plano man kicked off his journey near Disneyland in California last year as a way to raise awareness for Type 1 Diabetes. He’s lived with the disease for decades.

“I was diagnosed in 1972. Back then, there were no glucose meters and doctors knew the risks of low blood sugar. My doctor told me not to exercise and I followed those instructions for 42 years,” Muchow told WKMG.

Muchow decided to start running following a flurry of medical problems associated with the illness.

“Many of us, you know, want to be active, we want to be healthy, want to avoid complications but there are complications to avoiding complications, and I wanted to help people who were living with the disease see that there are safe ways to do even epic things,” he told WKMG.

He started with a 5k race, then a 10k, working his way to a marathon. From there, he kept going: a 50k race, a quadruple marathon.

He shifted his focus to Iron Man triathlons — extreme races that include biking, swimming and running — then ran across Iowa and Texas.

Last year, he decided he wanted to challenge himself even further with a transcontinental run, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. The Disney element wasn’t on his radar until a conversation with a friend.

“He said, ‘Well, so I assume you’re running from Disneyland to Disney World?’ And I hadn’t actually thought about it that way,” Muchow told WESH.

He’s believed to be the first person to complete the journey. But it wasn’t without its difficulties.

Muchow arrived at Disney World on Tuesday. Screengrab: Don Muchow Facebook

Muchow started his run in February 2020 by dipping his toe in the Pacific Ocean, then running the 14 miles to Disneyland, the Orange County Register reported.

About a month into his cross-country trek, his father died and Muchow paused the run to be with his family. The coronavirus pandemic hit soon after and Muchow and his team decided to suspend his journey.

“We didn’t want to give or get COVID, especially because folks with Type 1 have a greater risk of developing severe COVID,” Muchow told the Register. “I also thought it would be selfish to risk an injury that might require medical care when our health care folks and hospitals were so overwhelmed by life-and-death situations.”

He stopped at about the 1,260-mile mark in Tarzan, Texas, before briefly resuming in October, according to the Register. But he stopped again after a surge in cases.

On March 2, however, the run was back on.

Muchow ran about 32 miles a day, with a break every 10 days, WKMG reported. His journey took him through nine states.

Muchow arrived at Disney World about a year after he first started, but said he was worried he might not be let in.

“I sure did not expect cheers, applause, gifts, a meet-n-greet with the WDW park president and entrance into the park,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Mind-blowing.”

Muchow planned to finish his transcontinental run at Indialantic Beach in Melbourne, Florida, on Wednesday.

“Grand total: 2845 miles, 32 mi/day, 90 days of running if all goes to plan,” Muchow wrote. “Disney’s slogan ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’ goes double for everyone like me, with serious lifelong medical conditions. The diagnosis is the beginning, not the end.”

He ended his post with an inspiring reminder to his followers: “Epic is for everyone.”

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