Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – 4 Races in four consecutive days… A 5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, Half Marathon on Saturday and a Full Marathon on Sunday
I can sum up this experience in three words… Amazing but Exhausting!
This trip was two years in the making… Eric and I decided we wanted to give it a go. He would do the full challenge of all 4 races (known as Dopey) and I would take on just the first three races (In case you missed the memo… I will not do a full). We then decided that Vijay should join. I told him in no uncertain terms that he would be traveling with us. Luckily, he is good natured enough to agree.
Full review of each race will be coming soon but first I wanted to talk a little bit about the overall experience, the packet pick-up process and the organization. Before I go further, I need to mention that we decided to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort. Logistically, this made the most sense and when you net out the cost we really weren’t spending much more by staying at a resort. And really, the convenience factor alone is worth any extra cost.
I was fortunate in that Eric planned the entire thing. He price compared, got fast passes for the popular rides we would want to try out and made reservations for meals… essentially he did all the research and all Vijay and I had to do was follow. So really, there was very little for me to do outside of pack… he was even nice enough to pick up my suitcase from my apartment so I didn’t have to lug the thing to work with me!
We arrived Tuesday night and after taking the shuttle to the resort and checking in, we all went to sleep. There was a long day ahead of us on Wednesday and then we would have 4 days of racing (well, 4 for Eric, 3 for Me and 1 for Vijay).
Wednesday we were up early so that we could be on the first shuttle to packet pick-up. The Dopey challenge folks had it the easiest… well I suppose the Goofy challenge folks did too (those doing the half and full) but I am not positive of their pick-up process.
It is unfortunate that there was no challenge for people who only wanted to take on the first three races instead of all four. But as it was, I had to go to each individual kiosk for my race packet. It was all extremely organized but there were other people picking up their packets so I had to wait in three individual lines which kind of sucked.
We then wandered around some of the official merchandise and I found plenty of things to spend my money on. After that, we had to go to a different building to get our race shirts… odd but it wasn’t difficult. Luckily the lines for that were short. My shirts were a little big on me but when I registered, I hadn’t lost any of the weight I had gained back… now that I was back down to my old size, the shirts were big. I didn’t want to hassle with exchanging so I just stuck with the original sizes I requested when I registered last April.
Once we were done wandering around the expo, we headed back to the hotel to drop everything we bought off and then headed to Magic Kingdom for lots of fun.
Thursday was the “latest” race start time of 6:15 am so we had a pretty early alarm. Vijay was kind enough to be our personal gear check for the 5K and the 10K. Getting to the race site was insanely easy. The corrals were well managed but I didn’t really enjoy the long wait between corrals. Totally loved the fireworks to start each corral though!
The 10K on Friday was also just as easy to get to and luckily there was less of a wait time between the corrals. And still totally loving the fireworks, which were bigger for this race.
By the half on Saturday, we were all pretty tired and Vijay was running as well so we had to use gear check. I was highly impressed with the drop off and for the first time did not have to wait in line to drop off my bag at gear check. There was a bit of a hike to the start corral but everything was labeled well and clearly. I also have never seen so many port-a-potties at a race before. Not only did they have a ton before we got to gear check but they had a ton after gear check and even more closer to the start corrals. The one thing I loved about the half that I have NEVER seen at any other half is that there was a water station just about every mile. I had started off running with water (I did not check the course map ahead of time) but quickly figured out that I water wasn’t going to be an issue for this race. Since I was a tad worried about my water intake, this was a HUGE relief for me. The other thing that was ingenious was having Half Marathon gear for sale after crossing the finish line. I was quite chilled and took full advantage of being able to purchase a sweatshirt after the race while Eric and I waited for Vijay to finish.
Between all the water stations at the races, the transportation to and from the races and the on course support, I am beyond impressed with runDisney. I went into this event considering it a one and done but I would happily do another runDisney event in the future. Without a doubt the most organized series of races I have seen… especially considering the size of each event. We were told there were 12,000 each for the 5K and the 10K and then 22,000 for the Half and the Full.
I had an absolute blast running through the parks and even though I was beyond exhausted by the end (so much so that I came down with the worse cold I have had in years) I would recommend this series of races to anyone.