My First Disney Marathon Weekend Experience
Sitting here in December, at the end of a year that I couldn’t make up if I tried, I was reflecting on how amazing my 2020 had started. My Dad had his first Disney trip to see us, my good friend Kim was coming soon, and in between I had my first Disney Half Marathon to run. Disney has several races over the course of a calendar year, so I wanted to be able to try them all. The advantage of living here is that I CAN try them and not have to get a hotel and all the extra costs that running can bring when you run far from home.
A race week always kicks off with the Expo. Held at ESPN Wide World of Sports, it’s a maze of merchandise, bib pick-ups, and vendors in several buildings. It’s full of excitement, but a word of warning to be the first in line for day 1 of the Merch area- it is like a Black Friday sale! I only did it once for my Star Wars Half and I vowed to NEVER do it again! Elbows flying, merch grabbing, people yelling- seriously, it’s a bit insane! You wind up overbuying for stuff you may not have wanted had you been able to shop it at a peaceful pace. But, to each his own.
This weekend I had gone in to pick up my packet, my shirts, take advantage of the photo opps, say hi to Jeff Galloway, and peruse the merch that is Disney. I will say the Expo has EVERYTHING for race day and training beyond- and even if you aren’t running the race, you can come and shop for your next one or just find some great stuff to train with until you do.
Race day came at the ripe hour of 3 am wake up wall, drive in to Epcot early enough to beat the race traffic, sit around for an hour and stretch, find your friends and take pics at the photo opps, and then find your Corral that is usually about 2 miles from where the morning party is. No, seriously. The corrals have gotten so big that this year I had to wait for the first one to take off so I could fit into mine.
Here’s the other thing that first timers don’t realize, the gun goes off at the starting line for each corral. So you hear the gun, see the fireworks, over and over again while you stand there and just wait. And being of the slower variety, I am usually in the back, so that process goes even longer. By the time I am crossing the starting line, I see the first elite runners coming back on World Drive. How’s that for a kick to the old ego?
I run about a 13 minute pace, 11-12 on a good day. You must run at least a 16 minute pace to not be “swept” or “picked up by the dreaded Disney bus.” This race I had no problem staying far ahead, in fact it was my second-best run. I don’t stop for characters because I didn’t want to chance fate with my time- also being in the Parks all the time, I figured I could see them again at something else. Some ARE exclusive to the Race, but not worth the hiccup in my running when my pace is solid.
There is nothing like running down Main Street U.S.A. and seeing the Castle, or finishing in the shadow of Spaceship Earth. It was even my first time running through Future World and World Showcase, now completing all sections and Parks of my running career at Disney World thus far. It will be nice when they return to see what they have next for us.
I finished with a smile on my face, happy to be done and with a medal around my neck I went and found my family there to get a group hug. I was happy I did it, proud that I went for it, and went home to enjoy a well-deserved congratulatory meal.
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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!