2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap - Part 2

In part 1, I recapped the awesome time I had at the WDW Marathon Meetup at the Studios, and I was drifting to sleep on the eve of the WDW Half Marathon.

For big races, I have made the habit of laying out my stuff the night before (as most runners do), packing my race bag and making sure my Garmin, iPhone are charged (for 5ks, I’m a little less tense and just usually grab something out of the running drawer the morning of the race).

This time around I had to prep a little differently since I would be running a half on one day and then a full the next which meant packing the additional tape, Band-Aids, Biofreeze needed during and immediately following the half to keep my body in good shape for Sunday’s race

For the half (which was going to be my “take-it easy” race), I decided to wear my “Goofy” Adidas Adios and save my more broken in green Adios for the marathon. I pinned my bib on my singlet, packed my runDisney bag, charged my pre-race iPod shuffle (full of chillout music to keep me calm before the race) and headed to a rather deep sleep.

Anyone else layout their stuff the night before?

At 3a, I loaded onto the very quiet bus and headed to Epcot. Now, I have run Disney half marathons before, but never on Marathon Weekend and the scene was crazy! I couldn’t believe how many people were there to run, as the scene was just wall-to-wall with runners. Some were wearing costumes, others tutus, and many looked like they were pretty serious for a PR.

I found a quiet place to tape up my feet and stretch and then dropped off my bag to sit in the cattle corral until they opened up the mile long path to the race corrals.  After the long march to Corral A and some of the usual Disney fanfare, the fireworks shot off and I started my 39.3 mile journey.

The marathon course this year was different but from what I could tell, the half was the same route as year’s past. Since I had never run this race, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but getting good advice from wife, who had run this the year before, helped (as well as this was not to be a serious run for me).

Miles 1-3 were pretty uneventful as we made our way towards the Magic Kingdom along Epcot Center Drive and World Drive.  Mile 4 brought us to the TTC and the first spot I was to meet up with my family. From my experience with the previous year’s marathon, I really like this part of the course as it’s really the first place runners come in contact with race fans, and there are a lot of them. It feels great to see all the signs and fans cheering and really gives you a boost! Coming up the ramp from the overpass, I saw my wife and family. I stopped for about 30 seconds to talk with them. “I don’t like running this slow,” I said to my wife. She retorted,  “You have a marathon tomorrow, do not finish this race in under 2 hours.” 

Mile 5 is the reason everyone signs up for this race, the Magic Kingdom. I love running through it! Disney lets fans in early to pack Main Street USA and cheer on the runners as they make the turn from behind Tony’s towards the castle. I don’t know how to put it in words and I’m assuming every runner experiences this amazing feeling as they make the turn and see the castle. If you haven’t run this race yet, it’s tough to imagine until you experience it for yourself.

As we ran through the Kingdom, we turned over to Tomorrowland, through the castle in Fantasyland, over to Frontierland and backstage towards the Grand Floridian.

A funny thing to mention here – So, for the weeks leading up to the race, I have been craving corndogs. Don’t ask me why, but I have been craving them and oddly enough, Chicago is a tough place to find corndogs. Anyways, so running through Frontierland I saw an ODF cart that sold corndogs! The menu on the shack was tiny, but it caught my eye immediately, corndogs!

The run from Frontierland to the Grand Floridian is a little boring as there isn’t much to see, I kept myself busy by counting the orange cones that divided the runners and cars. There were about 280 of them.

I saw my family again at the Polynesian and yelled to my wife, “They’ve got corndogs!” to the perplexed faces of fans near my family.

Heading back on to World Drive, Miles 7-10 were full of bands, balloons, characters and other entertainment installations to keep us occupied. I was keeping about an 8:30ish pace, which was slow for me and I wanted to rev it up, but my wife’s words kept resonating in my ear, so I put it in neutral and coasted to Mile 12.

Mile 12 took us into Epcot, where we ran to the entrance of World Showcase and then turned back to just right of Spaceship Earth, backstage and then the Finish Line.  Entering Epcot, I noticed I was at about 1:52:00, well ahead of my planned finish, so I decided to have a little fun. As we sped underneath Spaceship Earth, I turned on the jets and cranked past gobs of runners. For the first time the whole morning, I could set into a race groove (heck, I rationalized it was a good barometer for the next day’s race). I jammed past a ton of runners, applauded the gospel choir at the last few steps of the race and finished in 1:59:58 (whoops).

Can I get my corndogs now?

Overall, the half marathon is what I expected from a Disney race, it was awesome. Tons of entertainment and magic, mixed with a good group of racers, the half marathon at WDW is really a great race if you are looking for a first time race that is just fun to run.

After the race, we headed back to the Wilderness Lodge so I could take an ice bath and rest a little bit. After napping, my wife and I headed out to the MK to get our corndog fix. 

At least I had water with them. Actually, these are from Main Street, we didn't take a pic of our corndogs on a stick.

 Walking through the Magic Kingdom, I noticed a little twinge in the outside of my left heel. It wasn’t so much pain, more of a twinge and I didn’t think twice about it. After all, I had a marathon to run the next day and didn’t have time for twinges. This little heel issue wasn’t going to stop my dream of getting that Goofy medal. Or was it……………..?