It’s crazy to think that it has been a week since I ran the Walt Disney World half marathon – the whole weekend was quite surreal. Everything about runDisney is so much larger than life that it is impossible to do justice to the experience with words – but I’ll give it a shot.
On Friday night I had a cup of herbal tea in the hopes of being able to fall asleep early, and honestly, for the night before a race I didn’t do too badly. That’s a good thing considering 2:00 am comes early! At the advice of some runDisney veterans, we were on a shuttle bus at 3:00. We started the walk to the start line at 4:00 figuring we had all kinds of time – the brochure said it was a 20 minute walk. Well I guess it would be 20 minutes if you weren’t making the trek with 26,999 other people – it took over an hour to get into our corral. Fortunately this went much better on Sunday, but that’s a story for another day.
There were 8 corrals which started 7 minutes apart, and each wave began with Donald Duck counting down to fireworks – way better than a gun, in my opinion!
The first four miles or so (yes, the course was marked in miles, and no, I don’t really speak miles, but I will do my best!) were leading us towards the Magic Kingdom. Even though I went into this race saying that I was here for fun, I was feeling good and didn’t want to join the long queue to have pictures with Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbosa on the way by. The typical race mindset was quickly broken when the course narrowed and we got completely boxed in. I saw people dodging in and out, weaving like crazy trying to pass, and getting progressively more agitated as they went – and said nope, not me. I am here for fun.
Absolutely everything here was larger than life. We got our first glimpse of Cinderella’s castle before we entered the park, and they had left the Christmas lights up just for us. I don’t think I have ever seen so many lights in all my life!
Running through the Magic Kingdom was slow but completely amazing. Even though it was still dark, the spectators were three or four deep as we ran down Main Street USA. In each area of the park, characters were appropriately placed by theme, and people were stopping all over the place to take pictures of various Disney landmarks. As we approached the castle, we were greeted by an amazing fanfare – and it wasn’t a recording! There were actual people in pantaloons blowing those big long trumpets!
After we came out of the Magic Kingdom, we got to run along a serene road beside a massive golf course which was breathtakingly beautiful as the sun rose. We were completely boxed in here and had to slow to a walk several times. When we finally got back out to the highway, the sun was up and it was getting quite warm, and we found we were a little seized up from a lack of range of motion through the bottlenecks. So we ran along and enjoyed the spectators, entertainment, and costumes of fellow runners. This time when we encountered the Pirates of the Caribbean, we made sure to stop for a picture!
We finished up the race by running through a small part of Epcot – just in a side entrance, around Spaceship Earth (aka “the ball”), and out the other side. Disney cast members (what Disney calls all of their staff) greeted us with shouts, waves and high fives.
Upon finishing, my number two priority after getting my medal, was to begin refuelling for the next day. Water, Powerade and snacks were consumed with gusto – to the point that I forgot to get a picture with my Donald Duck medal! After one smooth shuttle bus ride back to our resort, I was into my ice bath, then off to bed for a wee nap.
To be continued…