Reflections on a runDisney event

Back in September I ran my first runDisney event. The Happy Haunted 5K was run over the Tower of Terror 10-miler event weekend. I was not quite ready for a ten-mile race and so Bill and I signed up to do the 5K event. I decided since it was a Halloween event that I was going to dress up and try running in costume. This was a test so that when I plan my costume for my upcoming Princess Half Marathon I could know what to expect.

The race started at 7am and they asked everyone to be on site at the ESPN Sports Complex by 6:15. This is quite early compared to our normal day.

Pre-race Observation: Spending a day running amok at the Disney parks the day before a race=bad idea. We were sore and tired before we even got out of bed.

We got up and moving and I got in my costume and off we went. When we arrived the crowds were already huge. There was a large pumpkin Mickey that you could stand with for a picture so we got in line. The Brightroom photographers were out in force taking pictures. At past races I tended to blend into the crowd and usually only had one or two photos taken of me that was not the case this time. My costume seemed to be a photographer magnet.

Once we got our photo taken with the pumpkin we headed over to our corral. There were over 3,000 racers signed up and they had split us up into 5 corrals. We signed up late and so we ended up in the last corral. When we arrived the area set aside for our corral it was packed full. We decided rather then cram in a small space with a bunch of other people we would stand off to the side and wait for the start of the race. We walked around the field some making sure to go to the bathroom so we wouldn’t have to stop on the path.

Observation #1: If you generally eat before a run don’t think that because it is soo much earlier in the morning that you won’t HAVE to eat. We started getting hungry before we even got to the corral. We had some running supplements in my Camelbak and so we decided against better judgment to try them out (even though everything on the net will tell you NEVER try a food product right before a race that you don’t know how it will affect your internal system). Luckily for us there were no ill affects.

Observation #2: If you plan to wear a tutu be aware that they do not fit in the porta potties very well. If you choose to make one that you can remove hopefully it is a dry day (it was not) so it won’t get muddy or you have a friend with you to hold it. (I did). In the future I may wear tutus for 5Ks but I do not intend to wear them for much of anything longer.

Promptly at 6:45 the first corral moved to the starting line. The sun was due to come up at 7:16 and with the rain making the course a little damp the night before the start of the race was delayed a few additional minutes to allow the sun to brighten the course. Corral A set off with a bang and we stood there. About every 5-6 minutes another corral was let loose. It is kind of boring being in the last corral because people were crossing the finish line before we even started.

As our corral finally moved into starting positions we ended up in the very back of the race. Only about 10 people between us and the last run/walker. We finally got started and waited as the crowd began to disperse. We finally had enough space between runners to work towards setting our pace. Bill and I are both training with the Jeff Galloway run/walk/run system. Bill has been faster then me so I told him to head off. The first half-mile was on a walkway around a field then we got into the “woods”. The course took us off-roading on roads I felt would have been better for the Jeep then for my knees. Muddy roads with ruts worn into them by trucks or Jeeps. Grassy patches that were like walking on a hillside sideways. This is not what we had been training for and so it started to wear on us pretty quickly.

As I walked I made a few friends with the people around me. At one point we noticed an armadillo that may have been running from something and laughed that it was outpacing us. It appeared many of us were not prepared for the trail area.

As we turned a corner the sun was coming through the trees in a beautiful burst and lots of us stopped to take photos.

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We began to hear “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf”. Shortly after we turned a corner and there he was. You could stop and take pictures but the line was fairly long and I was already running behind so I snapped a picture as I went by and kept moving.

Just before mile 1 marker I caught up to Bill. I hadn’t actually run much at all because I was terrified my foot would land wrong and I would twist something. My half marathon in February is far more important to me then a good time on a 5K. Bill had started running and very quickly had shin splints due to the un-even ground.

Happy Haunted 5K - Big Bad Wolf

Happy Haunted 5K - Big Bad Wolf

Disney does a very good job of keeping you entertained on the runs. After the Big Bad Wolf we saw an area with a pirate ship (would have been better if Capt. Jack was there). The picture is blurry because I was actually running when I tried to get it. Additional observation stop for a second to let the camera focus.

Happy Haunted 5K - Pirate Ship

Happy Haunted 5K - Pirate Ship

There was a bug attack

Happy Haunted 5K - Bug Attack

Happy Haunted 5K - Bug Attack

Brer Bear from Song of the South

Happy Haunted 5K - Brer Bear

Happy Haunted 5K - Brer Bear

Bill and I walked together for the rest of the race, which was nice since we were able to get pictures of each other at each mile marker and with the final character stop with the Gravediggers from the Haunter Mansion. We finished strong running more once we were on the track and had a lot of fun. In the future I will pay more attention when it says “Trail Run”.

Happy Haunted 5K - Grave Digger

Happy Haunted 5K - Grave Digger

After the race we got our medals and a snack box with all kinds of goodies. I had a girlfriend whose son was going to run in the kid’s races so we hung out and watched most of those. It was so cute. The older kids run a mile race. Then each group of younger kids have shorter races 400m, 200m, 100m. All the kid’s races had Mickey waiting for them at the finish line. The fun part was seeing some kids see Mickey and run towards him while others had a look of sheer terror and ran in the other direction to mama or dada. We didn’t stay for the diaper crawl because it was going to be a while before they had it set up but I have seen pictures and they are adorable.

Happy-Haunted-5K-Mickey.jpg

Happy-Haunted-5K-Mickey.jpg

After the race we headed over to the Expo to pick up a couple of items we didn’t get the day before and to listen to Jeff Galloway who was talking that morning. We were able to talk with his wife for quite a while in the booth when we were trying to decide if we wanted to pick up one of his books. Mr. Galloway is very accessible. He spends all weekend either at the booth or talking on stage. You can talk to him and have your picture taken with him. He signed the book we bought and also signed my 5K bib. Just standing and listening to him talk makes you feel like you can do anything. I don’t see myself as a marathon runner but I think if I talked to him for a few more minutes he would have had me signing up.

Happy Haunted 5K - Jeff Galloway

Happy Haunted 5K - Jeff Galloway

Overall I can say that runDisney events are fantastic. Even with the unexpected trail parts that slowed me down they have great volunteers that cheered everyone on. The trail was decorated in Disney fashion and I am very much looking forward to the Princess Half. I still have a long way to go before I will be ready to go 13.1 miles but I will get there.

Observation #3 Carrying a small camera is a wonderful idea. I had a small camera with a strap and I held it in my hand and it was perfect to take pictures.

Observation #4 Running with friends makes the running not seem as long. Things go so much quicker.

2 thoughts on “Reflections on a runDisney event

  1. Sounds like fun – I’d love to do a Disney run. With all the Disney themed animals throughout the race, I may have thought the armadillo was part of the plan. Funny story.

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