So last year at the Cincinnati Flying Pig half marathon expo we stumbled across the runDisney booth. Disney is such a great place and somewhere I have always wanted to run. Cheryl turns to me and says “We should run in Disney next year” and I said sure why not. The first run is in January and anywhere warmer than NJ in January works for me.
The following few months consisted of us planning out the prices and if we could afford to run in Disney. We decided if we were going to run in Disney we were making it count! Disney World has 5 runs every year. In January they have the half marathon and full marathon (and goofy if you want to do both!), in February the princess half marathon, expedition everest is in April (more like a scavenger hunt 5k), tower of terror 10k in October and the wine and dine half marathon in November. 2013 coincidentally was the anniversary year of most runs. We had decided to run the half marathon in January, February and November and possibly the 10k in October.
We hit our first roadblock right in the beginning. We waited to long to sign up for the January run and it was sold out. Luckily Runners World was doing their challenge at the Disney World 20th Anniversary marathon. The price was more than we had budgeted for but it was either that or run for a charity and have to raise a lot of money each. We decided (since we had to pay more anyway) that we were going to run the marathon instead of the half marathon. Cheryl was reluctant at first after New York, but went along with my crazy idea.
We started our training in October and did all our long runs together. We felt prepared when January rolled around.
My cousin-in-law Jenn (who loves Disney we had her bachlorette there) decided she was going to come with us and volunteer on the course. A few days before we left I started developing a sore throat so I quickly went to the doctor for some medicine. Other than that we were prepared and ready for a great weekend!
Cheryl and I (being identical twins) decided to run dressed as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (the only Disney twins). We bought matching yellow tank top, red socks and red glitter skirts from Team Sparkle. I sewed collars and bows and made flags for our red hats.
We got to Disney on the Saturday of the half marathon (mistake 1). When we went to the expo to get our numbers we discovered almost all the official merchandise was sold out. I kept seeing such amazing shirts all weekend I wish I had gone down earlier.
My cousin went to sign in to volunteer at the expo as well. This is where annoyance #1 came in. My cousin came all the way down from NJ to FL to cheer us on and volunteer (for free!). She was told by the race coordinators that even though runners had transportation to the start volunteers had to find their own way to get to Downtown Disney. Most people would be like ok well I am sure there are taxis. The problem was my cousin was signed up for the early shift (2:30am-11:00am)! Who in their right mind wants to get a taxi by themselves at 2 in the morning. We addressed our concerns and were told “oh well we will just cancel her spot then.” Really Disney? She is here to help you for free and you can’t even try to be helpful back? No “oh well let’s change her time so she can take the busses once they start running” Nothing. So my cousin cancelled her volunteer spot. Really out of everything that was the most frustrating thing Disney did all weekend. (End rant haha)
The Runner’s World Challenge gave us free pasta party tickets so we went to Epcot that night. The food was pretty good and I had kept myself awake all day so I was tired when we got back to the room later to sleep. We stayed at the All-Star Music hotel. I really liked it. The best part was they opened the food court at 3am for us to be able to get food and drinks before we got on the busses.
We also got to be in the Race Retreat tent through the Challenge. It was nice. Air conditioned (nicer post race), private porta-potties, food and drink. Oddly we had to start going to the race corrals an hour before start. For some reason Disney has no bathrooms in the start corrals. Annoyance #2. Cheryl and I (after the fireworks start) had to find the closest porta-potty which had a line since everyone had to stand around for an hour before the start without bathrooms.
The race in itself was a blast. Training in 30 degree weather and running in 80 was difficult (and showed in our time) but the atmosphere and organization was top notch. There were photo opportunities every mile which was great to break up the monotony of running.
After a while Cheryl and I decided we didn’t care about our time we wanted to enjoy the race! We finished in 5:50 but after the race I heard something from Cheryl I never thought I would. She said she would run the marathon again and actually wants to run the Goofy next time (half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday!)
The best part about running a race in Disney is you get to stay. Most runs you go, you run, you get your medal and you go home. In Disney you run, get your medal, shower at your hotel, put your medal back on and wander the parks basking in everyone congratulating you (as well as you congratulating everyone else) It was great!
I was able to see my favorite BFF Tigger while I was there. I might have stalked him a little but I am sure they are used to that haha.
All in all we had an amazing time. The weather was fabulous (not running in but after). The people were great and the experience was one I will always remember.
I can’t wait until next month for the Princess Half Marathon!