Saturday, January 12, 2013

Walt Disney World Half Marathon Race Report

Of the 25,000 participants in the half marathon, 10,000 of them were Goofy challengers. This seems like a weirdly high proportion. But I guess it is extra revenue for Disney, so it shouldn't surprise me! So we weren't the only people in our corral to be taking it easy on the first day. Our race plan was just to walk at a relaxed pace -- one that would keep us well ahead of the sweepers of course, but not one that would hurt the next day.

I was wearing my pink PureCadence, a purple EZ v-neck shirt, yellow tights, white compression shorts, and a white tutu pinned to be flat in front, full in back. Oh, and a vintage Daisy Duck hat to top it all off! Wil wore and orange shirt and blue shorts, and a vintage Donald Duck hat. We looked awesome!

The race was fine - a few pinch points in the crowd, but nothing too awkward. We ran up to the ticket and transportation center before heading into the Magic Kingdom. It was still pretty dark when we ran up Main Street, and the road seemed so weirdly narrow. We think they may have not had effective covers for the trolley tracks, so didn't want anyone running on them? But they had spectators roped more than halfway across the street, leaving the runners with only a narrow chute. Still, we grabbed a cute castle pic as we headed up the street before turning right to Tomorrowland.

We caught our first glimpse of the new Fantasyland, including the Beast's castle, and we swung back around to Sleeping Beauty castle. Again, no one on the carousel (Disneyland does that better) but they did have characters next to the castle and trumpeters on the balcony.

Then through the castle, the usual crush of people trying to get THAT photo, and off to Frontierland. We glimpsed Tiana and a few other characters before running in front of the train (always weird) and exiting the park.

The miles back to Epcot and the finish line are always a little bleak. Sure, they had marching bands and cheer squads and characters, but it is always pretty boring. The on-course support, however, was great - plenty of well stocked and well-staffed water stops all along the course.

Finally we got to Epcot, made a little out and back past Spaceship Earth, past the gospel choir, and to the finish. Nice and gentle 13.1 mile, 3 hour, 5 minute walk.

After the race, we picked up our medals (cuter in person than in pictures!), got a bottle of water and a bottle of Powerade, and then picked up a banana and what can only be described as a snack box: a pre-packed box of treats. Simple, efficient, and no one picked up more than their share. Great! Plus, the box allowed for Run Disney branding, far fewer volunteers, and much less post-race frustration.

We cooled off a little, and we're then heading over to the buses when we saw that Daisy -- DAISY!!! -- was out for pictures. It was really important for me to get a picture with Daisy while in the costume, so we jumped in the line to wait. Yeah, okay, it took 15 or 20 minutes to get to the front, but it was worth it! Daisy saw me and froze, looking me up and down, pointing to me and then back to her. I did my weird little excited dance, which she did too. Then she hugged me and made lots of kissy noises. :) I know that "Daisy's friend" probably doesn't see a lot of Daisy fans, so I hope she also got a bit of a thrill.

We took a bunch of pictures, and then headed for the buses - relatively efficient, though I do have that slight "participants should board before family members" feeling. At least it was a nice hot sunny day, so we weren't shivering in our race clothes waiting while families boarded.

A few random memories of the race: the two women dressed in matching Donald costumes, one of whom was dawdling and chatting loudly with everyone, while the other kept shouting at her to "RUN, Donald!!!". I almost wondered if they were on-course comic relief. A woman complaining about not hearing "Sweet Caroline". Giant Mickey hands at the overpass. The poor woman the much-too-small running skirt -- I bet her post-race shower was excruciating! Seeing the first wheeler closely followed by the first male and the first female -- before we even reached the Richard Petty track.... and then wondering if those were indeed Hansons-Brooks singlets streaking past (they were!). High-fiving Donald at the finish line. And enjoying a post-race pint at the Tusker House at Animal Kingdom in the early afternoon. Bliss.

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