Whenever we race in Disney World, they always try and make it a family affair. We headed off to the Wide World of Sports on Friday for the kids races, where C was going to be racing. We had arrived almost 2 hours before her race, thinking that it'd be enough time to get our packets picked up along with hers. We got our packets rather quickly, and went outside to get C's packet at the separate kids races station. The line was huge, and not well organized. We finally manged to get her number picked up about 10 minutes before she had to get lined up for her race.
Before too long, the small kids were going, and then it was C's turn to run. She started toward the back of her pack, but managed to pass a lot of other kids before coming in towards the front of her heat.
We spent the rest of the day at Epcot, where we passed over the port-a-johns near where the starting line would be early the next morning:
We went back to our hotel, and got all of our race gear ready that night. We headed to bed at 8 pm, ready for a 2am wake up call.
One of the things that Disney neglects to tell you is that in addition to the race you are going to run, you are going to be doing a lot of walking to get from place to place you need to be. The buses dropped us off on the far end of the parking lot, a good half mile from the pre-race area. The walk was OK, because Becky was a bit chilly.
We arrived to the athlete's area over 2 hours before racetime, and with temperatures in the 40's, we did our best to keep warm. A DJ was playing techno music in an attempt to get the crowd warmed up. It wasn't my thing, because I like to try and conserve energy and get into the right place in my head to run.
I'll say this for Disney. They kept us in the corrals for over an hour, and never failed to entertain. The hosts are always fantastic, keeping excitement high, and relaying information as needed. This was a wave start, with the wheelchair athletes going first, followed by a Corral every 5 or so minutes. Before too long, our corral was standing at the starting line.
Before we got to mile 3, we entered into the Magic Kingdom toll plaza, signaling that we were getting close to running through our first park.
We then ran through the Ticket and Transportation Center Parking lot, which was one of the main spectator areas. There is also a ton of entertainment. We were maintaining a good pace through this point of the race, and we hadn't stopped to use the restroom yet. We finished with the TTC area and headed toward the contemporary resort, heading under the water bridge that connects Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon.
The runners were kept to the right hand side of the street, and the spectators along the left. As soon as we entered, you are overwhelmed by those spectators. It is a solid wall of people cheering for anybody with the guts to run. We went down Main Street, and turned left into Tomorrowland where we took our first bathroom break. We continued through the Magic Kingdom, following into Fantasyland, eventually running straight through Cinderella Castle.
When the pack left the Magic Kingdom, the course narrowed and you could feel a little excitement leave the crowd. Miles 6.5-8 were very low energy and slow as the crowd as a whole was deflated. The course isn't very exciting in this part either. Eventually, a golf course appeared on the right side, and there was another character stop, and the road widened out. Clif was at mile 8 with Clif Energy Shots. I took a coffee one we kept on going, back toward Epcot. The sun was fully up, so we were finally getting a little bit of warmth in our run, although we were still very comfortable at this point.
After mile 10, we climbed a steep onramp back onto Epcot Center Drive and into the homestretch. About halfway up the onramp, the sergeant from Toy Story was commanding us to "take that hill!".
When you come to the top of the onramp, you can see Spaceship Earth looming closer, and after a crossing over a couple bridges, we were passing by the entrance toll plaza to Epcot, where I stopped to take another picture of Becky.
One year ago, this race was my first half marathon, and I thought it was an accomplishment of a lifetime to just finish it. Running it with Becky was something different entirely - it was much better. As much as I wanted to tell her about what lied in store, I held back, and it was gratifying to watch another runner experience it all for the first time. We will be back for this race many times in the future, as nobody does races like Disney, and this is my favorite route to run.