Student Completes 5K, 10K, Half and Full Marathon in 4 DaysFebruary 13, 2014

Top, left to right: John and Thomas McDonald, brothers; Robert, father; Stephen, brother; Shannon Darling, cousin. Front: Andrew, brother; Anne Mayo, aunt; Claire and Katherine, sisters; Bob, brother; Maria; Annette, mother. Very front: Mark, brother.

For most people, running a 5K is an undertaking in itself. But what if you had to run a 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon in a four-day period? That’s just what Maria McDonald, ’15, exercise science, did January 9-12, 2014, as part of the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. The four-day event, called the Dopey Challenge, puts even the most experienced runners to the test.

About 6,000 other runners took part in the race. But McDonald, who participated in the race alongside her two brothers, didn’t take on the challenge for herself. They did it for their 9-year-old brother, Mark, who was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in 2008.

“Duchenne muscular dystrophy results in progressive loss of strength caused by a genetic mutation,” said McDonald. “This leads to serious medical problems, specifically issues related to the heart and lungs.”

Maria McDonald, '15, with her brother Mark.With no cure for Duchenne, the McDonald family, along with a number of other families affected, joined the Run For Our Sons team to raise money and awareness.

“2014 marked our sixth year running the Walt Disney World Marathon,” said McDonald. “We were able to raise more than $12,500 for research, which is something we’re all really proud of.”

Running has always been a part of McDonald’s life, but it wasn’t until her brother’s diagnosis that she began running half and full marathons.

“Training for this took a tremendous amount of time management,” she said. “As a full-time student who’s involved in a number of organizations on campus, I had little time to fit in 10-mile runs. Once the holiday break set it, I was able to take longer runs at home.”

And the training paid off. McDonald’s times included:

  • 5k: 33 minutes, 27 seconds
  • 10k: One hour, three minutes, 20 seconds
  • Half marathon: Two hours, 30 minutes, 23 seconds
  • Marathon: Five hours, 35 minutes, five seconds

“For me, the biggest takeaway was that I gained an even greater understanding of the physical challenges of Duchenne,” said McDonald. “By running these long distances and experiencing stiffness and soreness afterwards, I am able to get a small glimpse of the challenges my brother faces on a daily basis.”

Learn more about Run For Our Sons at

Filed Under: Community, Student Life Facebook Twitter