Well. It’s almost been a month since the WDW Marathon Weekend…about time I do a little recap I think! I could do a really, really long one and go on into great detail….but I am going to try and spare you all from that. I’m going to try…TRY…and keep it condensed!
I arrived in WDW on Tuesday, January 3rd. This allowed me to enjoy the days leading up to the events, which would be on the Saturday and Sunday. My mom had arrived earlier that morning and I met her at the hotel. My best friend Ali was arriving the following day, and she got there without a hitch….well, her Magical Express bus from the airport almost needed to be hitched by a trailer and towed away because it broke down a few miles away from the hotel. But she got there safe and sound!
Even though these are from different days, here are some “enjoying WDW” pictures that aren’t race related!
My mom and I went to the expo on Wednesday, January 4th. I would go back to the expo the next day with Ali so she could get her race bib, but I knew I wanted to make sure I got some certain race merchandise items. So arriving at expo open was key. I did not like that the expo didn’t open until noon. It was an upcharge by Disney if you wanted to get into the expo and hour or two (can’t remember which one) earlier than general opening. Money grab if you ask me. But since we arrived at Wide World of Sports at 11:30, we queued up and were let into the expo floor by around 11:45. Straight the the merchandise, we had no problem getting the items I wanted. I also bought Ali what she was requesting. We did a little tour of the expo floor where I bought quite a few other items. In retrospect, I should have gone to the other building where packet pickup was…that line was never a stand-still, but when I eventually made my way up there I had to go back and forth and back and forth until I got into the building. Thankfully, my race shirts were in that same building to pickup…otherwise I would have to go BACK into the expo hall…and that line was ridiculous. I don’t know if it was just that every person in an event that weekend (5km, 10km, half, full, goofy, dopey, kids races) showed up, but the crowd was crazy compared to what I remember in 2014.
Day before the half marathon, the weather didn’t look great. RunDisney started issuing updates early afternoon, telling us runners to stay tuned for up to date info. At around 7 pm on Friday night, they cancelled the half marathon. This was due to a huge storm coming through in the evening, that called for thunder and lightning. At first, it was a huge let down that the race wouldn’t be run. But, RunDisney did the right thing. I did, however, mention to my mom and Ali that “It better fucking STORM!” because otherwise you know people on social media were going to lose their minds even more…and for the record, and it storm. All night, and then at 7:45 AM we heard a huge CRACK. It would have been chaos if 20,000 + runners were out there on property running and this happened.
(For the record, RunDisney offered four different “reimbursement” options since they cancelled the event. This information came out later Friday evening. And, they didn’t have to do this. That’s what it says in the fine print whenever you sign a race waiver. It was great of them to do this. I opted for the reimbursement of the cost of the half registration in form of Disney Gift Card…which I gave to my mom. She paid for my registration to begin with. Now, she has $185 to spend on her Disney Cruise this June!)
So, Saturday came. Race was cancelled. I had already heard of people talking about getting the miles in somehow that day, be it treadmill or waiting until weather cleared. RunDisney was still giving everyone their half marathon medal, so it wouldn’t really feel right to take the medal (and then my Goofy Challenge medal the next day) and not really “earn it.” My mom, Ali and I were taking the boat to the Studios for 9 am park open, and the weather was already starting to clear. We saw runners on the Boardwalk, on the promenade in front of Yacht & Beach, on the walkway to the Studios….tons of runners were out there, wearing their race bibs…some in their costumes too….getting in the miles. I immediately knew I had to get my 13.1 in. I messaged Alyssa & Drew, who had mentioned they were planning on getting the 13.1 miles in that day. They ended up meeting my at the Studios at 11:45 am and we did our “Unofficial WDW Half Marathon.” We got the 13.1 miles in, and honestly had a blast doing it! At around mile 11, when we had looped back by the Studios, we even went in and were able to get a photo with Donald….which was appropriate since he is the ‘mascot’ for the half marathon. It may not have been the way I imagined Saturday would be, but I am always going to remember that “race.”
So then the weather went from one extreme to the other by Sunday. It was cold. Wehn Ali and I left the room at 3 am to go to the busses, it was around 40 degrees fahrenheit. I was grateful my body was conditioned and used to cold weather, as the poor Floridians were freezing……hahaha! Neither Ali or I packed much for layers…I had packed a throwaway long sleeved shirt, but didn’t think about sweats or hats. I fashioned us some gorgeous garbage bag ponchos (which for some reason I thought to pack) and then got creative with Disney towels. I figured using Disney hotel towels and dumping them before a race on Disney property would be OK….I mean, they’d get them back if they wanted them?
After the long wait that is the start of a RunDisney race, Ali and I were off at around 6 am. The official race start was 5:30 am, so with us starting in Corral I, that’s not to bad. I did only remind Ali once or twice that I could have already been to the Magic Kingdom (I was able to start in B). I don’t know if she cared for my sarcasm.
Race began and we kept moving with the pack the best we could. I kept reminding her we needed to just try to stay with the pack and not get stuck with all the other people behind us, as it would make Magic Kingdom even more crowded. I made it my mission to take a photo of each mile marker (which I did) but I won’t post those all because, well…it’s boring. I kept texting my mom, who was at Magic Kingdom on Main Street. When we got into Magic Kingdom, we stopped quickly to talk to her, get a photo, and on we went. That was at mile 5.
The next stretch to the half marathon mark was a bit of a challenge. Lots of people, narrow part of the course. Kept having to remind Ali we were almost to Animal Kingdom, and then we’d have more to see. We even stopped quickly for a photo with Meeko, from Pocahontas, before we entered Animal Kingdom. It was fun seeing people jumping in line for Expedition Everest, as it had just opened. We weren’t in the park all that long, or at least not long enough for Ali….because before we knew it we were in the back lot and heading towards the parking lot. I knew she was dreading the next stretch of open road, as we’d be logging in the miles 16-21 before getting back into the parks.
I’m happy to say we are still best friends after that stretch, because man….our friendship ending was a possibility. Ok, not really….but I think Ali wanted to beat the shit out of me during Wide World of Sports. I forgot how much turning and winding you do during that part! I tried to distract her by talking her ear off, and I do think it helped when we got to mile 20! Mile 20 was right on the ball diamond, so I made Ali stop for a picture there. I reminded her now we just had a 10km to go! It also helped motivate her when we were heading down the road away from WWOS that we saw the “Balloon Ladies” (the sweepers) who runners must keep ahead. We were definitely going to stay ahead of them, so it eased our minds going in the final stretch.
While the morning started off cold, the sun had came out and was hitting your body pretty good. I knew I would have an epic racerback tanline after this was all said and done. As we made it up the hill with the Green Army Men yelling at us, down a final descent of non-descriptive WDW resort road way, we finally made it into the back entrance of the Studios. There were people everywhere, as by now it was late morning and thegeneral public were all going about their days at the parks! It was awesome to have people around us in the park, cheering us on, encouraging us. We exited the Studios (after our fourth bathroom break of the day) and took the walkway to Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach Club, and then the back entrance of EPCOT. I think Ali thought we would have a lot of backstage running to do before entering the park, but before we knew it, we were entering World Showcase at the United Kingdom pavilion! And then over the first bridge we hit the mile 25 sign! Only one mile was between us and the finish line…well, and a Grand Marnier Orange Slush in the France pavilion for Ali!
The last mile was a lot of fun. Ali got her drink (I think the alcohol hit her immediately), which an older lady with a solid Boston accent bought for her, and we saw other runners enjoying beverages from World Showcase. I got a picture with Jasmine, we took a selfie by Spaceship Earth, saw the gospel choir at mile 26. Then it was the final stretch!
Ali had some fire saved up in her, as she started sprinting down to the finish line. We finished! Ali had finished her first ever full marathon! I finished my 10th official* RunDisney race! (11 if you count the unofficial half from the day before!) This is going to be a memorable race weekend for years and years to come, and I will cherish those memories!