Post 2: The “Shorts”
When we last left our heroes, we were paused on the brink of greatness; ready to begin Disney’s Dopey Challenge at the 25th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. The first race in the series was the 5K, a distance that I can basically run in my sleep… which is good because the race started at 5:30 AM.
I have to be completely honest: I was not worried about the 5K. When our alarm went off that first morning, despite the fact that we hadn’t gotten to bed on time (for which I completely blame the fact that we were busy infiltrating the First Republic at THEVOID the night before), I was pumped and ready to go!
Walt Disney World 5kBecause this was a Disney run, we prepared different costumes for each race. For the 5K, we revived outfits we had used for the 2016 Princess Half Marathon and went as Gaston and Belle.
Getting to the Starting Line
When you stay on Disney property for a Disney race, you’re offered the option of taking a free bus to the start line. We did that for Princess, but realized quickly that we might be better off driving ourselves to the Marathon weekend races. Having the car gave us the option to hang out in the warmth of our vehicle if we got to the parking lot too early, and it also meant that we weren’t reliant on Disney transportation reliability to get us anywhere on-time. At Princess, we encountered long waits for busses both to the race and back to the hotel, and we just didn’t want to stand around in the cold any longer than absolutely necessary.
I would highly recommend the driving option to anyone. We got to the start line faster, we had somewhere warm and dry to sit, and we could bring last minute changes of clothing with us to ditch in the car if necessary. We found it much more pleasant to drive than to get on the bus, and so long as we got out the door on-time traffic was not terrible getting to/from the Epcot parking lot.
Waiting in the Corral
The weather report told us to expect sub-freezing temperatures while we waited in the corral, and luckily we brought plenty of throw-away sweats. If you haven’t heard this already, make sure you stock up on sweats at Goodwill before any big race. They’ll keep you toasty while you stand around at the start line, and you’ll have no guilt tossing them aside when you begin to warm up. For the 5K, we also covered up with trash bags while waiting in the corrals to cut the wind. This only kind of worked; my toes were pretty cold by the time we walked out to our corrals.We decided that I would drop back to Mike’s corral for the 5K because I wasn’t worried about the 16 minute mile pacing requirement. Disney doesn’t actually sweep in the 5K, and I knew that there wouldn’t be very many character stops (and I would have plenty of opportunity in the subsequent races to snag ones I wanted).
The 5k Course
The 5K (and all of the races over Marathon weekend) began in the Epcot parking lot. The course took us along the back roads at Epcot, and then on my second favorite Disney route through the world showcase before dipping past the Epcot orb and finishing back in the parking lot.
The 5K felt great. After a long taper, my legs felt fresh and ready to go. It was the best shake-out run I could have asked for, and made extra festive because of Disney magic. The picture stops had LONG lines (insane lines, if you ask me) and as a result we only stopped at one: some cast members dressed as Vikings at the entrance to World Showcase.
One thing to know about photo stops on Disney races: there will be an official race photographer there, but there will also be a cast member who will happily collect your phone to take a picture for you as well. While I do tend to purchase Disney’s Memory Maker to get the candid shots on the course, you can collect character stop images without spending a dime more than usual while breathing Disney air.
Noticing the length of the lines on the 5K course, I realized that we would have to change up our strategy if we wanted to make stops on our subsequent races. Luckily, while we aren’t fast runners per say, we are both fast enough to beat a 16 minute mile pace requirement. Even if we saw the sweeps, we could pretty much always outrun them. Still, the revelation of just how long these lines were did require some re-thinking of our plans.
On the whole: the 5K was a great start to an epic race weekend.
Walt Disney World 10k
While I had felt ready for the 5K, the next morning was a completely different matter. When the alarm went off for the 10K, I was not feeling fresh or good to go. I was tired; I hadn’t caught up on sleep from the night before. I was a bit dehydrated; I hadn’t drank enough water the previous day. Overall, I was not feeling ready to run a race.We had saved our Mylar heat sheets from the finish line of the 5K the day before, and I was extremely grateful for it. This morning was even colder than it had been the previous day, and standing in the corrals for an hour and a half was not something I looked forward to. Thankfully, between my throw-away layers and my Mylar layer, I was mostly okay heat-wise.
My dad has started his journey as a runner, and we invited him to join us on this race. He hadn’t submitted a Proof of Time and so was automatically assigned to the last corral. A cautionary tale if ever there was one; make certain you submit those Disney PoTs!
Since we knew my dad would be a bit slower (and we were pretty sure there’d be at least one photo op we wanted to stop at), Mike bumped back to his corral and I started in my assigned corral. I ran ahead and secured a spot in line at the first stop I found that we cared about, and the guys caught up with me.
For the 10K, we went as The Incredibles!
While hanging out in the corrals, I struck up a conversation with another runner who I noticed wearing a Dopey challenge bib. One thing I love about Disney races: even though it’s early, folks are generally extremely excited about what’s to come. There’s a real friendly comradery in those corrals, and people are happy to pass the time talking with strangers. You can always make a new friend on a Disney course!
Running the 10k
I took the first few miles out of the gate pretty hard because I was so cold standing around in the corrals and really needed to warm up. Around mile 3, there was a photo op with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider with a LOOOOONG line. Since the guys had to catch up to me, I waited. Sure enough, by the time I got to the front my party had caught up. We got our group picture, then were back on the go!
After circumnavigating the globe on Epcot’s world showcase, the 10K did a lap around Disney’s boardwalk (which is a lot of fun). Running on the boards, though, does require a bit of attention; especially as they tend to get slick when wet. One thing that’s very cool about this section of the race is that it is LINED with spectators cheering, holding signs, clapping; such an energy rush!
The Finish Line
We paused at the Epcot orb to get a group photo before motoring to the finish line. At the end of each race, Disney gives you a pre-packed snack box, a banana, and water/poweraid. The snack box this year consisted of a pack of tortilla chips, some gross fake cheese dip, a packet of dried fruit, Oreos, and a square of Godiva chocolate.
Since we were running four races, we wound up with quite a collection of these snack boxes by the end of the weekend. We pillaged them for the dried fruit, cookies, and chocolate, but I’m sad to say that the tortilla chips and fake cheese met their ultimate demise in a trash can somewhere en route to the Orlando airport the following week.
The “short” races over, it was time to set our focus on the big kahunas: the half and full marathons. While we were technically halfway through our 3:30 AM wakeups, we had a long way to go to be officially Dopey.