Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Walt Disney World Marathon- A Test of Endurance

1 - Here's a reminder about an important event coming up in just two weeks. We have an outstanding panel lined up for the second in our New Realities series. The topic for this session is the Global Economy. As panelists, we have an economist (Dr. Jody Lipford of Presbyterian College), an expert in Western North Carolina (Scott Hamilton, CEO of Advantage West), and an international businessman (Bob Quattlebaum, former VP of Cryovac who has done extensive business in South America, Europe, and especially China, where he travels frequently for his current business). It promises to be an event you won't want to miss. No reservations are necessary, but mark your calendar.

2 - 2012 started out well for the stock market, with the S&P 500 gaining more in four days than it did for the entire year of 2011. The rub, of course, is that we have another 51 weeks before the tale is finally told on 2012, and there are still a passel of issues to be sorted out in this rapidly changing world. We need to keep a steady hand on the tiller as we steer through these uncharted waters.

3 - In a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, MIT economist and Nobel Prize winner Peter Diamond contends that federal policymakers should tackle unemployment before fixing the deficit. As Diamond puts it in the article, "We have an unemployment crisis and a debt problem, and Washington is behaving as if we have a debt crisis and an unemployment problem." Diamond's suggestion for increasing economic activity and reducing unemployment? Government spending on infrastructure and research and development. He reasons that unemployed young people are unable to get the experience they need for long-term meaningful employment, which reduces their income for many years to come, thus hurting the entire economy over the long haul. Putting them to work now would remedy that situation, he claims.

Have an outstanding week!

You may know that I enjoy distance running. I'm not fast by any means, but I can go a pretty long way. This past weekend, Sharon and I traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando with my sister Nancy and her husband Bobby. Nancy and I ran together in Saturday's Disney Half Marathon (13.1 miles), her first distance race. Then on Sunday, I ran in the full marathon (26.2) miles, which was pretty tiring.

Believe it or not, they actually have a name for this two-day self-punishment. It's called the Goofy Challenge, named after the famous Disney cartoon character. You may be surprised to learn that 27,000 runners participated in the half marathon, over 20,000 ran in the full, and a whopping 7,000 did both, thus attempting the Goofy Challenge. So at least I was the only nutcase in the crowd. 

In order to get to the starting line for each morning's 5:30 start, we had to get up at 3:00am. The first several miles of both races were run in the dark, but the sun rose on two brilliant Central Florida days. It was a blast!

Above are some photos from the marathon taken on my cell phone. TOP: A typical scene of a river of runners wending their way through the expansive Disney property. MIDDLE: I paused for a snapshot with one of the many Disney characters who placed themselves along the course for photo ops with the runners. (This was one of the plastic toy soldiers from the Toy Story movies.) BOTTOM: This is what one looks like immediately following a marathon, with iced knees and two finisher's medals (one for the marathon and one for successfully completing the Goofy "Race and a Half" Challenge).

I dedicated yesterday's marathon to my friend (and Blue Ridge BBQ Festival Chairman) Chuck Britton, who is recovering from some recent health issues. Chuck is now on the mend and should be back to bossing us all around very soon.

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