Ask me what two of my greatest passions in life are, and high atop the list you’d find all things running and all things Disney. The chance to combine the two together, to run in the Disney 1/2 marathon? C’mon. It’s been on the bucket list for a few years now, but over this past weekend I was finally able to cross it off, and boy, it did not disappoint. To include everything from the weekend into a single blog post would make for a small novel, so to spare you all from that I’ve decided to split it into two. This first one will focus on the main event of the weekend, and there’ll be another one immediately following that’ll cover the remainder of the time (the remainder here meaning a few days in Disney. Could be worse).
As some context, I ushered in the new year in the northern clutches of the Polar Vortex, and so was preparing for my tropical race in subzero temperatures. It’s the training regime suggested by all the elite runners, I’m sure.
The fam and I hopped on a plane for the sunny south last Thursday and were thrilled by the map indications that Florida’s state line seemed impermeable to the country’s deep freeze; while we were there, the Sunshine State’s temps reached 3x, 4x, even 5x those we had left behind. I’m a big fan of New England and its wintry climes, but a change of scenery is always welcome.
Disney actually holds a series of races over this weekend, with 5k and 10k races the days before my own 1/2 marathon, with THAT race coming the day before the full marathon. Runners head to a weekend-long expo to pick up their number bibs and t-shirts, and while there I actually caught sign of some Holy Cross love. It’s already a well-known fact about Crusaders, but we really are everywhere!!
The race course runs through Disney’s theme parks, and because they want them to operate at normal capacity on race day, start time for runners is 5:30am. That means a 4am shuttle bus from the hotel, and that means a 3am wakeup call. Eesh. These races are also (obviously) run by Disney enthusiasts, many of whom like to show their enthusiasm by running in costume. I’m never one to argue with the masses, and so took it upon myself to show my affiliation. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, yes? It was a tough choice narrowing down which character to run as; I had sadly neither the dread-locks nor loin cloth to pull off the Tarzan look, it’d probably be more than a little inconvenient running 13.1 miles in a Hercules toga, and the Incredibles‘ Dash would have just been showing off. What to do then? In the end, the decision was an easy one, and I went back to square one. The very first movie I ever saw in theaters was Toy Story (I was so small at the time that my mom and aunt had to hold down the folding seat throughout the duration of the movie to prevent losing me into the upholstery), and it’s remained a favorite over the years. In a bit of role reversal, then, Andy dressed up as Woody, and the result was one of the most fun, enjoyable runs I’ve ever done.
Mickey, Donald, and Goofy were on hand at the start to send the 20,000 runners on their way, and from there it was along access roads into the Magic Kingdom, through Cinderella’s castle, and then to the finish line beneath EPCOT’s landmark geodesic sphere, with Disney characters lining the whole course to cheer and pose for pictures.
In the day’s funniest moment – conclusive PROOF that truer words were never spoken than those in the refrain of Magic Kingdom’s It’s A Small World attraction – I crossed the finish line right alongside a fellow Crusader, senior XC/Track runner Kerry Dunne. She’s a 5-year veteran of this race, and to boot, she ran it on her birthday. You sure know how to celebrate Kerry!
You might think that one would want to sleep the rest of the day away after such a long race, but this is DISNEY WORLD we’re talking about – sleep is for the dead. It was ice packs and advil for the sore legs, then, and soldiering on for the rest of the day!
After a while though, sleep deprivation did finally take its toll, and we all headed back to the hotel for some r&r. But tired as we were, there are worse things than having to spend a few hours by the poolside in Florida. Don’t cry for me, Argentina.
An unforgettable experience from start to finish, and one that I’m positively sure I’ll revisit over and over again in years to come. Thousands of runners that day really did go the distance, and I’m fortunate beyond words to say that I was one of them!! *Cues Hercules trumpets in background*
Stay tuned for Part II, shortly!<< Older Entries