Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2016
So they do actually have races where it’s not raining.
I’ll trade you rain, for a boatload of fog.
It’s day three. I got hardly any sleep the night before and I wasn’t really feeling that well. (more on that later) I chalked it up to nerves and we headed out at 3:30 am for the race. We were calling it a day early each night while we were there to buy us some sleep time.
We get there and its not raining. Yes! It’s not cold. Double yes! They say its going to turn into heavy fog, but it hadn’t rolled in totally yet. There were a lot more people here than the the earlier races. The WDW Radio Running Team picture blew up in size. Its was great seeing everyone and meeting some new running friends before the race. I checked in with several to see how their race went the day before.
I had the opportunity to get an early walk out with the Runners World crew to the starting line. They were going to be escorted to the front of the corals via shortcut. I thought it was more important to stay with the running team and didn’t think the shortcut would save a bunch of time. I was glad to stay with the team, but was wrong in thinking the shortcut was not a valuable perk. The start line is moved out onto the main road for the half and full marathon. While it may not seem far away, they bring you over 1/2 mile around back to get there. It’s so long that they have port-a-potties along the way and entertainment!
This is before you even get to the starting line.
It takes a little more time to get going since I was now in Coral E for the half and full marathons. I wasn’t feeling awful yet, but something didn’t feel quite right. They were moving through the corals pretty quick to get us all out there, so about 12 minutes after the first group goes they let us out. I was surprised by how many people were cheering at the beginning. Sharon had ditched me early to make it to the Magic Kingdom.
The first three miles didn’t have anything for you really to stop and get pictures at. They had a couple of school bands out which were great, a hot air balloon and a puppeteer with a giant Sebastian. I stopped at the gate to get a picture and kept moving on.
They had Wreck it Ralph and Venellope out with their float pieces from one of the parades. Although I loved the backdrop, I kept moving since I had them. Up ahead though was a awesome surprise. Oggie Boogie from nightmare before Christmas! It’s really hard to find. He made an appearance at the Halloween shows but wasn’t available for a meet and greet.
The stretch between here (MK parking lot) and the park was really difficult for me that morning. I think it was because I’d never run that course before and it just seemed like we were never going to make it there. We eventually did though and there is the WDW cheer group right in front. I was glad to see them! It was just the boost I needed.
At this point the fog had really started to come in. Running down main street was awesome and it was crazy how many people were there cheering the runners on. Disney made up for the lack of characters leading up to the park in a big way here. 5 miles in and there were only 2 stops. In Magic Kingdom alone there were 5 stops. Mike (Monsters U again), Queen of Hearts and the Tweedles, and Ulf and Pub Thugs (from Tangled). I had to stop to see Ulf and the Pub Thugs. Again it was one I was super psyched about and everyone else just went by.
Thats my Pub Thug face
The Frozen Characters were on the back of the castle cheering everyone on. We ran through the castle and out the front. Course wise, this was an interesting stop because it narrows so much. There were a ton of photographers and a bunch of the girls start doing the jumping in place pose for the cameramen. It was oddly disorienting. They were telling us to keep going to the bottom to get pictures. That’s when you see the sea of cheer squad people and they are all wearing the exact same thing. I eventually find Sharon and Beth. Beth had made some fun signs for the races. I stopped for a minute, took a selfie with them and kept on moving. I later saw pictures where that part of the course had become almost a standstill because so many were trying to get through at once.
Woody and Buzz were out around the corner and I ran into Pattie again….or actually she ran past me. They also had the train out and lit really nicely. It was interesting to see the same picture of the train after the sun came up. It didn’t really have that extra touch to it. There are definitely pluses and minuses to being in a more forward coral.
At the bottom of the hill was an amazing Peter Pan float with a ton of characters. They were real fun and I’d never met the lost boys before.
The course leaves the park and then hugs around several of the resorts before heading back to Epcot. they had Mary Poppins, Bert and the penguins out at the Grand Floridian. Stitch was out at the Polynesian. Donald was out in his golf gear at the golf course. Loved the golf cart!
The sun was coming up at this point and the fog was really starting to show up. I was also starting to feel pretty bad and my stomach was killing me. At mile 9 I had to stop and pull myself together. After a short break, I was back out there trying to finish the race off. They have a green army man and some troops out on the course towards the end. He’ll yell at you and his group will try to make you do pushups if you are walking. I didn’t try to get a picture with him at the Wine and Dine because he’ll give you a bunch of grief for it.
I get on the side of the road to try to snap a quick picture with him.
“What are you doing citizen?” He yells.
“Let me get a quick picture…” I say, as he wont stop for me.
“Start running citizen!!!” He insists.
“Well dont let me hold up your time for the race. Take you picture and get going!”
Meanwhile his troops have got people doing pushups.
A few more turns and we are getting ready to head back in to Epcot. I beat Lou and the group to their second cheer point. The inside of Epcot went really quick. It all stayed in the front before ending at the normal spot. Scrooge was out and I ran into Disney Vacation Genie! That was a fun surprise.
Notice how foggy it got by the end.
Mickey and Minnie were at the finish line so I had to get one last picture with them before crossing the end.
I finished up, met up with Sharon and the kids and headed to breakfast at the retreat. I also got a massage which was a life saver for me after the race.
Three down. One to go! Check back tomorrow for the full marathon recap.
Walt Disney World 10k
The rain, oh the rain.
Man, this race….and the rain. This was my 2nd race in the series and 4th ever Disney race. At this point 75% of the Disney races I’ve run have gotten rained on. It was about 6-8 degrees warmer than the day before, but the rain really came down for this race. Sharon and the kids got there the day before so they were there to cheer me on for the remainder of the events.
There was no delay in the race, but I was concerned that they would pull characters from the course because of the weather. I was towards the front of the A coral and off we went. This course added more mileage outside of Epcot and included the boardwalk area on the other side of Epcot.
We took off and there is a spot over looking the course set up for Frozen, but they were not out. The next spot had a plane and was playing familiar music……I had a feeling it was Ducktales, but again no characters. The course looped back in on itself and there was finally a character stop. Flick and Atta! I’ve met Flick before never Atta, so I stopped. There was a long line and by the time I got to the front, I could see the next wave coming over the hill at us. The line really got motivated then to get a quick picture and get moving again.
There was a momentary lapse in the rain when I was getting my picture. I could also see that the Frozen characters had come out as well. What I didn’t realize is that Darkwing Duck and Launchpad McQuack had come out as well. My biggest miss for the whole trip was not getting them. I would have turned around and gone back to get them had I known! Unfortunately, they weren’t at any of the other races that weekend either. I’ll still have a bunch of opportunities to hopefully run across them this year though.
The rest of the outside stretch was pretty quiet. They had a big TV set up playing videos, but that was about it. The Incredibles were out again. The turn into Epcot was just as awesome as the day before, even with all the rain. I stopped in France to pick up two new characters….Remy and Emile from Ratatouille.
At this point it was raining pretty good again, but I was over half way done. We looped around and headed out to the boardwalk. I knew Lou was at the bakery, so I was going to stop and get a picture with the WDW Radio cheer group. Right before I got there I found Mike from Monsters University tucked away in the corner! We had met Sully in his Monsters U outfit but I didnt even know a Mike existed from the movie. He even had braces on, which I though was pretty funny.
I then found Lou and the gang not far up ahead. As I was getting my picture with them, Pattie from the running team came trucking by. I caught back up to her and we ran together for a little bit. I really enjoyed it and it just goes to show how much a running team can add value to your races. We had never met before that point, but it was like I was running with an old friend. We ended up connecting several times throughout the weekend and I bumped into her on the course at the other races during the weekend.
It was so wet, I couldn’t get my phone to work right!
I let Patti continue on without me while I stopped at the Tweedles. I’d been hunting them down for a year and finally was able to meet them a couple of months ago. I wasn’t going to miss my chance to get a picture with them that morning. At that point all that was left was just to push on through to the finish. I again finished a little faster than I wanted to, but it was nice to get out of the rain.
Since I was part of the Runners World Challenge, I got to have breakfast again with the crew. It was nice to get a hot breakfast in the heated tent! Two down. Two to go! Check back in tomorrow for the half marathon recap.
Walt Disney World 5K
A cold, wet start to the weekend.
This has been on my radar for four years now. In the mean time, the race grew to what is now the Dopey Challenge. It’s a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon all back to back. I’ve been saving money for two years and training for over a year. It was time to kick off this challenge of ultimately doing every Disney race in the US in a year.
The 5K was not the nice, lovely race weather that you would hope to start out on. It was cold, it was misting and the wind kept picking up. I got there way too early (again) but some of the WDW Radio Team were already starting to show up too. We hung out a while before heading off to the corals to start the race.
The course itself stayed in Epcot for the most part. You start in the parking lot, go around the back and enter in to park near China. I made a commitment to myself that I would only stop for characters that I didn’t have or needed a better picture with. I needed any buffer I could get and it would take me forever if I stopped at every picture spot. There weren’t a bunch of characters out for the first race. They did have Chip and Dale and the Incredibles around the first mile.
I’ll say it was neat to turn the corner into Epcot proper and see it lit up by the giant fire torches and cast members cheering you on. My first character stop was a good one…Mittens! (from Bolt) She hasn’t been out in forever and I was super excited to see her. It was funny because there wasn’t really a line and no one knew who she was. The person in front of me asked the cast member who it was and they didn’t know either.
“It’s Mittens!” I said.
“I don’t know…” as the cast member shrugged.
“No, it’s Mittens, from Bolt!” I said again.
“Hmmm… it’s some cat from one of the movies.” They responded.
I stepped up, got my picture, and moved on.
She was the only uniquely new one that I needed for that race. I stopped to get pictures with Marie because she’s one of Beth’s favorite characters. I also stopped for a picture with Lilo because no one was stopping to get a picture with her. I heard that Phineas and Ferb were on the course, but they were not out yet, when I passed through the area.
I finished off the race with a decent time, even though I wasn’t pushing myself. I was also able to get a picture with Pluto since it was his race that day. Besides the weather, it was a great start to weekend!
After the race I had breakfast with Bart Yasso and the Runners World crew. They were fun to hang out with and I was able meet the team that works on the magazine.
Check back tomorrow for the 1oK Recap!
So here I am , at the beginning of it all. I’m not sure exactly how I got here because even today I don’t truly consider myself a runner, yet I’m about to undertake something very few people have ever done….. complete every Disney race in the continental US in a year.
I would say I’m a pretty competitive person overall even in my hobbies. I have a tendency to go all in, become one of the best in the field and then quit cold turkey. My wife and I geocached for several years, reaching the top 1% in the world and then quit. I took up gaming and became one of the top .5% of players in the world on the PlayStation platform and then didn’t play seriously for several years. I went from that to obstacle racing where I’ve topped out of nearly all of their awards. (I once ran three Tough Mudders in 24 hrs. to get their highest level headband.) I took a survey over at Strengths Finder to find out my #2 strength is Achiever. Color me surprised.
We went all the way from TX to NC to finish this out last year.
Their highest level is 10. So in my insane drive to get there, I bought a season pass and squeezed them all into three race weekends.
So instead of just doing one Disney race series, here I am about to do them all. That means I’ll do two 5ks, two 10ks, two half marathons and one marathon in about 10 days in January. I’ll earn the coast to coast medal four times and will log hundreds of miles and thousands of air miles as I go back and forth from Disney World to Disneyland. Its taken a long time to get here… I’ve been saving up for two years for this series. (It’s expensive!)
My first Disney race is actually a warmup. I’ll be doing the Disney wine and Dine 5k and half marathon next weekend. (On the same day). I’ll then be kicking off the official start in January during the Disney marathon week. I’ll also be running for LifeWay and be a part of the WDW Radio Running Team.
Thanks for checking in on my progress. It should be an interesting year!