The weekend part of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend finally arrived – it was Saturday the day for the half marathon. Back when it started it was a weekend event, they only had a marathon. Four years later they added the half – so I assume that was weekend. Now the events start on Wednesday with the Expo and go thru Sunday with the running of the marathon. I guess Mickey’s weekends are 5 days long, I wish I were him.
Of course we had to get up very early to have breakfast, get ready and then head out to catch the bus to head over to EPCOT yet again. Unlike the small crowd of only 10,000 runners for the 5 and 10K there would be somewhere between 20 and 25 thousand people running and a good number of others going to chEar, so we knew we needed to get an early bus.
Each of the Disney races has a primary character – the half is Donald’s race. The plan was to do the half together at Leslie’s pace, so of course we did a joint costume. I was Donald and Leslie was Daisy. The hats we wore were from Tokyo Disneyland (we decided we are going to have to visit Tokyo Disneyland to buy more hats in the future).
We got to EPCOT and met up with friends and chatted for a while we waited until it was time to head to the starting corals. Since I was doing the Dopey I also bought the race retreat which gave me access to a special tent that had breakfast (but nothing I could eat – mainly bagels), a separate set of porta potties , and special character opportunities. (more about the race retreat after the race). Here is my picture I got in the race retreat.
For the 5K there were lots of costumes, less on the 10K and even less on half. This Japanese couple made an impression on everyone. Yes he did carry it for the whole race.
Unlike the 5 and 10K’s which had only 5 corals and started in the parking lot of EPCOT, the half (and full) had 17 corals which with the Start line are on Epcot Center Drive. This time Leslie and I were in the same corral – L. It was a long walk from the staging / finish area to our corral, and from what I figured on Google maps it was about a .4 miles from our corral to the start line. Here is the map of the half course. It started to rain a little before the start of the half, and Leslie and I sat under the Overpass Road overpass. You can see how far that is from the parking lots and the start line.
Well we had lots of time waiting. We had to be in our corral before the start of the race at 5:30 and our corral was not scheduled to start until 6:17. After a long wait and slowly inching forward we finally got close enough to get a picture of the start line
It was finally time for us to start and we were on our way. As we moved forward we listened and counted off the fireworks that stated the following corrals so we could estimate how much of lead we had on the balloon ladies at the end of the pack. As we went I would stop and take pictures of the mile markers and then catch back up with Leslie.
Of course Disney has characters out in various locations along the race route, but they also have other decorations along the way. I really liked this banner that was hanging from a lighted balloon type thing. The wind made it difficult to get a good picture, but I stood there for a little and got one.
Somewhere between mile 2 and 3 we go thru the gates where cars stop to pay the parking fee. The course for the half is the same course we did when we ran the Princess half back in February, but Leslie and I were not walking together so I got a picture of her in front of the gate (sorry it’s a little blurred).
Between mile 3 and 4 there were some cars (from the driving experience) and Launchpad. Of course I had to stop and get a picture of Donald and Launchpad. I am guessing that he had not seen that hat before he made a big deal and we interacted for longer than normal during a race.
The marker for mile 4 is in the Ticket and Transportation Center near the building that has the bathrooms. There was a band in the TTC and then we head back out onto World Drive towards the Contemporary. I took what I thought was going to be a great picture of the Contemporary – but I guess I need to stop when I take the pictures so they are just a big blur (most likely I will forget in the excitement of my next race). Next up it was time to go under the water bridge that connects the Seven Seas Lagoon with Bay Lake. The guy on the top of the bridge with the giant Mickey hands was a blast telling everyone to breathe normally even they we are going under water. It made me think of Dory and all I could think was just keep running, just keep running.
The mile marker for Mile 5 is just before we enter the side backstage entrance to the Magic Kingdom.
Then there is Main Street – it is so much fun running or walking in a race down Main Street. There is always a group of people there to cheer you on.
Leslie and I stopped for a picture at the end of Main Street in front of the Castle.
From there we head into Tommorowland – where I managed to do my Magic Kingdom Half Marathon Pin trade. I don’t really care which pins I get during these trades – but I managed to get one that I did not have. From there we head into FantasyLand and thru the castle. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that there were not trumpeters on the castle as there were for the Princess. Then it is thru Liberty Square where Louis from the Princess and the Frog was hanging out and into FrontierLand where the marker for mile 6 is.
In the back side of FrontierLand you cross back into the backstage area of the park. This area also has a Railroad crossing and they had one of the Steam Engines there with some conductor cast members. I decided to stop and get another photo. Well one of the people before me got down on the ground in front of the train making it look like the train hit them. Of course I had to do this also. The problem was that I held on to the front of the train and ended up with grease on my hand which then went onto my skirt.
In the backstage area they had the big float that the Prince and Princesses are on, with a Prince and Princess for pictures. If it was someone other than Aurora I might have stopped. We then left the backstage area and went onto Floridian Way, where I stopped for a picture with a Cars like VW fire van, which was with the RCFD around the half-way point.
A big part of mile 7 is along the side of the Grand Floridian and the course gets really narrow during this area which is not fun. There were some reindeer out for a picture, but for the life of me I could not really figure out what they had to do with Disney.
Things got interesting right before mile 8. I should have stopped for a picture with golfer Mickey and his fancy cart, but I figured I would do it during the full if I had the time, not realizing that Mickey could not be out golfing for his race. I did like the trivia signs about Donald; I learned things I did not know. It looks like I did not get the first sign which talked about his grandparents.
Then there is the long road back. There really is not all that much noteworthy for the next number of miles. Just a long road to the finish. Somewhere between mile 10 and 11 there were a group of cast members from the Disney Cruise Line with one of their busses. I would have been a lot more impressed if they had the Disney Dream on the side of the road. There is also the dreaded ramp that goes from World Drive back onto Epcot Center Drive between 10 and 11.
Having run the course twice I think the area between getting back on Epcot Center Drive and actually getting back into EPCOT might be the worse section of the run. There is another overpasses shortly after you get back on Epcot Center Drive. There is no real entertainment and there is this annoying section where you go a bit past the turn and then have to go back before climbing yet another overpass to climb to go over Woodpecker Lane.
Shortly after that we are diverted into the parking lot and the emotion of having really done it starts to build.
We enter the park on the right side (assuming you are facing the EPCOT ball), run towards the World Showcase. We stopped for out only joint picture during the race right at the start of the World Showcase. From there we run back towards the EPCOT Ball and the pin trading booth. Ah the Pin Trading Booth. The park is open so there are cast member working in the booth. During the Princess I ran up to the booth and asked to see their pins – the case member stood there for a moment looking at me realizing I was participating in the race and wanting to trade pins and was not sure what to say or do. So I did it again and I made a trade for a Fozzy Bear pin.
From Pin Trading Booth the course takes a right hand turn and goes back stage where the Hallelujah Choir performs to propel the runs forward thru the most important part of the entire race – the last one tenth of a mile. We got our medals, and I went to get my third wrist and last wrist band (I got a different wrist band after each race which I would trade in for my Dopey Medal at the end of the marathon). It was a lot of fun doing the race with Leslie and look forward to doing more races together. Since I had the race retreat and Leslie had the Chear Package, we headed into the tent to have some well-deserved breakfast of bacon and eggs.
Then it was back to the bus to return to the All Star Movies resort.
After we took our ice baths, showers and got into some clean clothes we decided to explore the All Start Movie Resort and get pictures. It turns out that Donald and Daisy spend a good amount of time hanging out at All Star Movies – so we got some pictures with them.
After our photo session we made our way over to the Wave for a wonderful dinner with our friends Niki, Steve, and Rebecca. It was a wonderful end to a really delightful day. It was again time to head home and get to sleep, although Leslie had completed her running I still had one more little run to do to earn my Dopey. I really enjoyed running with Leslie and was a little sad that she would not be joining me for my run on Sunday. Perhaps next year?