January 7, 2012 - Walt Disney World
We started the morning early, departing the hotel at 3:30 am. We were staying at a monorail hotel, so we hopped on the monorail and switched trains at the ticketing center then headed off to the Epcot stop. Even though we were "early" everyone was being ushered to their corrals. I quickly checked my bag and then followed the massive group of people to the starting line (27,000 + people). The distance from the prerace party/bag check to the starting line wasn't short. I wish I had tracked the distance, but I would say it was over half a mile.
When I arrived at my corral, we waited for awhile. Once the first corral was off, there was a buffer of 27 minutes until the last corral started. There were a total of 7 corrals (A-G). The start was exciting with fireworks and Donald, Mickey, and Goofy sending us off. From the start to the first half mile, it was pretty congested making it hard to really get going. At about mile 1.5 running became pretty easy.
The race started right outside Epcot and went up into the Magic Kingdom, then went back down to Epcot and we ran through the park and ended the race right outside the park in the parking lot.
Miles 2-9 seemed to fly by. It definitely helped that the on-course entertainment was distracting. There were 3 to 4 high school bands and cheerleaders playing throughout the course on the sidelines. Disney also had many character appearances including: Toy story characters (Buzz & Woody), Stitch, Alice in Wonderland (and friends), Chip and Dale, Mickey and gang, Rapunzel, Uncle Scrooge, Darkwing Duck, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Along with the characters and high school bands, there were also DJ's and real bands playing throughout the course.
After mile 9, I started to feel pain in my left side. At this point we were running the highways and the excitement started to calm down. I pushed through and started to look at those around me. I passed many families running together. One was a mother, son, and daughter who hired a coach to help them get through. The children were preteens and were looking pretty good considering we were at mile 10ish. Another person I ran by and briefly chatted with was a girl who was running with a full arm cast. I commented saying, "Wow, that's ambitious!" she responded with a Scottish accent, "Well I had no choice I flew all the way from Scotland." We wished each other well and I sped off. Another group that was pretty awesome was the Jack's 60th Birthday crew. They were a group of 6, all wearing shirts with Jack's picture and description of how they knew Jack (brother of Jack, wife of Jack, son of Jack). Jack's shirt said, it's my 60th birthday and I am running my first race. It was pretty cool to see a group come together like that.
Disney always puts on great races. Of course there were some minor hiccups. As with all Disney races there were parts of the course that suffered from crazy congestion with a majority of those areas being in the parks. Unfortunately, Disney doesn't directly provide runners etiquette handouts and many times "newer runners" would stop in the middle of traffic with no advance warning causing runners behind them to trip or swerve. Another downside was the long walk back from the finish line to the monorail. After a race it's great to walk, but this was a hike. Maybe Disney could provide transportation like they do in the parking lots for park guests.
Some aspects of the race that were great were the frequency of water/power aide stops, bag check was quick, on course entertainment, the spectators, and the amazing medal at the end.
One main aspect I would like to see changed is that runners receive access to the park (Epcot) after the race concludes. Our race registration fee is so high, that park access would make up for the price.
Overall, amazing race and experience. And now I wait for next years registration to open :)
Be Inspired, Stay Motivated, Run Strong!