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2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap

by Meghann on January 14, 2015

Check!

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I can officially cross the Walt Disney World Half Marathon off the good ole runDisney bucket list. You really can’t go wrong with 13.1 miles, two parks, and Donald Duck.  🙂

Other runDisney recaps:

We carb loaded the night race day at one of my favorites spots on Walt Disney property, Via Napoli.

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We dined on delicious calamari, salad, arancini,

 

 

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and Capriciossa Pizza (eggplant, artichokes, prosciutto, mushrooms).

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I was good and politely declined the red wine being passed around and instead drank over a liter of San Pellegrino on my own. I was thirsty!  

My race morning started way too early with a 3:00 a.m. wake-up call. I love runDisney races, but boy do they start early! We were staying on property (Animal kingdom Lodge), but still had to be out and ready to go by 3:30 a.m. for the 5:30 a.m. race start!

I’d been tracking the weather forecasts all week and silently jumped for joy every time the predicted high dropped lower and lower. My best races are always the coldest ones (even if I complain like a baby waiting for them to start). After going back and forth on what to wear, I decided to go for warmth and I’m so glad I did.

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We boarded the bus and headed to the start. I had a Clif Bar, used the restroom (surprisingly the lines weren’t bad, well done runDisney for supplying approximately a gazillion port-o-lets), and hung onto my warm jacket for as long as possible. runDisney is really big on making sure runners arrive with plenty of time to go before the 5:30 a.m. start (the buses stop running at 4:30!). They hold everyone in a staging area, where there’s a DJ for entertainment, restrooms, gear check, and tents for charity runners.

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It was a chilly 43 degrees while we waited. Not terrible, but the wind definitely made it feel a bit colder. We huddled around the information tent, where one runner was using the table cloth as a cover.

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At 5:00 a.m. I reluctantly gave up my jacket and dropped my bag off at gear check before making the long trek to the corrals. The walk was pretty crowded, which actually worked in my favor since all of the extra bodies blocked the wind and added a little warmth.

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As the runDisney races have grown, so have their corral starts. A couple of years ago runDisney introduced a new corral initiative in hopes of breaking up the crowded course. They added more corrals (Saturday’s race had 13!), made the corrals smaller, and created stricter guidelines for providing proof of time. Corrals are released at 3 minute intervals and each corral start comes complete with runDisney’s signature firework send off.

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I started in corral C and was able to keep a comfortable pace right from the start. Even though I was far from ever being alone on course, I never felt the course was overcrowded or that it wasn’t easy to get around runners who opted to take walk breaks. I know it’s a different story for later corrals, so if you plan on running the event (and NOT walking) I would suggest making sure you submit a time that guarantees an earlier corral. I’ll probably get killed for saying this, but I always recommend submitting your PR time, not the time you believe you will actually finish. *gulp

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The Walt Disney World Half Marathon course is very similar to the Princess Half Marathon course. The race starts in the Epcot parking lot, then makes it way to the Magic Kingdom before turning around and heading back to Epcot. I really wish the course included the World Showcase in Epcot or even a lap around the speedway to spice it up a bit. Still, you do get to run through the castle and that’s usually the selling point.

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I went into this race with the goal to have fun. I was there to run 13.1 miles and planned to enjoy every minute of it.

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And, I don’t care how many times you’ve run a runDisney race, nothing beats running down Main Street. Nothing. Cinderella’s Castle was still lit from the Holidays and a gorgeous sight to see.

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Can you see Ana and Elsa? I’m guessing they stationed them on the balcony to avoid a backup of long lines with runners trying to get photos with them on the course.

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The stretch between Magic Kingdom and Epcot is the longest and toughest. runDisney does a great job adding additional entertainment along this stretch, but I felt like I spent the whole time trying to count down just how many miles I had left until Spaceship Earth would finally come into view. I slowed down a bit during the last half. If I wanted to walk, I walked. I also had a couple of porta potty breaks.

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At least running next to Forrest Gump made it a bit more interesting. If he earned a nickel every time someone shouted “Run Forrest, Run!” he probably would have had enough nickels to pay for his next runDisney race by the end.

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One of my favorite pics of the day. A view I will never grow tired of.

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Done!

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Woo hoo!

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So happy to finally add Donald Duck to my runDisney medal collection. Now I just need to find a way to get back to California for the Tinkerbell, Avengers, and Star Wars half marathons!

Once again I was inspired by all of the Dopey runners who had run the 5K & 10k the days before the half and still had the marathon to complete the day after. So many medals! So many 3:00am wake-up calls! One year I will have to commit and take on the challenge, but for now the half was just right for me.  For now I’ll just toast all the challenge finishers.

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Cheers!

Derek and I spent the rest of the day celebrating at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

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If you ever run a runDisney race, it’s almost a requirement to wear your medal to the parks afterwards. Every time a cast member saw my medal they would offer a big congratulations. I’m sure they’re trained to say that, but it still made me feel special each and every time. It’s that little extra bit of joy that makes Walt Disney World (and runDisney races!) magical.

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Yes, even Mickey thought the medal was cool. 😉

Thank you New Balance and runDisney for an incredible race weekend. I had a blast and can’t wait to do it again.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sabrina January 14, 2015 at 9:51 pm

Congrats on an awesome half! I still can’t get over how awesome the newest New Balances are! I think they knocked this edition out of the park.
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2 Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine January 15, 2015 at 8:02 am

So much fun! Congrats girl! XOXO
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3 Lesley January 15, 2015 at 9:22 am

“I’ll probably get killed for saying this, but I always recommend submitting your PR time, not the time you believe you will actually finish. *gulp”

I 100% agree with you! I made that mistake in 2014 with the Princess Half. It was my first half, I was 9 weeks pregnant and I’m new to running so I submitted the time I *THOUGHT* I would finish in. This put me in about the 4th from last corral. It was so congested the entire race. Out of 13.1 miles, I ran a combined total of 2 and that was more like weaving around people! The other 11 miles were all walking because the crowd is SO thick in the later corrals.
My pace was HORRIBLE and well below the 16 min/mile cut off (I think I actually averaged an 18 min/mile! I’m slow, but not an 18 min/mile!!!). I never had to worry about getting swept though because there were hundreds of other participants in the same position as me and the balloon ladies were nowhere in sight. As much as I loved the course, environment, my medal, etc I was honestly disappointed because I wanted to RUN the half, not WALK it!
I’ll absolutely be taking your advice for next time and submit my PR time!

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4 Courtney! January 15, 2015 at 10:23 am

I think this race is my favorite Disney race. I’m not partial to the girly ones and I think WDW courses are way better than DL. I like the marathon too, but the half distance is perfect for having fun without being too much stress.
One thing I noticed is that when I submitted my time for Star Wars, is that I could no longer submit a “goal” time like I used to. When I submitted my race time (the best time I had in the qualifying period), it took that exact time as my estimated finish and wouldn’t let me modify it or account for a PR.
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5 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner January 15, 2015 at 11:46 am

What a fun race! I have to admit, Abu looks really freaky, though!
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6 Cait January 15, 2015 at 11:53 am

RunDisney races are my absolute favorite! I’m hoping to do the Dopey next year (if I can get in!)

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7 Kay @ Kay Bueno January 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm

So cute, but soooo early.

I definitely want to do a Disney race eventually. 🙂
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8 kristin | W [H] A T C H January 15, 2015 at 1:54 pm

rundisney races really are so fun. i always love that the lights are still up on the castle during walt disney world marathon weekend. congratulations!
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9 Jennifer January 15, 2015 at 4:16 pm

I saw you at Via Nappoli on Friday night! Would have loved to say “hey!” but didn’t want to interrupt your dinner. Love love love disney races, this was my second WDW half and hope to be back for the full and maybe even one of the challenges one day *crosses fingers* Looks like you had a great race, would have loved to see the castle lit up like that when it was dark but being the slow poke I am I was in corral M! You just can’t beat a Disney race – they’ll make you spoiled! Congratulations!

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10 Katie January 15, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Hi Meghann, came across your blog when I was researching the best ways to spectate at the WDW Marathon, which my husband Mike ran this past Sunday. Wanted to introduce a site we just launched – RaceRaves.com – which allows runners to find, discover, review & organize their races. We also enable bloggers to link to their more detailed race reports, so wanted to invite you to join our site and share your reviews/race reports to benefit a broader audience of runners. Thanks for checking it out!

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11 Erica January 15, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Whoop! Congrats! Its a dream of mine to run ANY Disney race!!They just seem INCREDIBLE!

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12 Elisabeth January 15, 2015 at 8:15 pm

Congrats on your half! I’d love to run any Disney race at some point.

Love your pink New Balance shoes! What model?

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13 Molly Rose January 15, 2015 at 9:12 pm

So amazing! One day I’ll need to do one. Nothing about 3 am wake-up call sounds appealing, but what a cool experience!
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14 Rachel Boldman January 15, 2015 at 9:24 pm

I saw you in the first half of the race!!! I thought it was you, but wasn’t sure so I didn’t say anything! I’m surprised I’m not accidentally photobombing any of your pictures! Congratulations on a strong finish! It was a really fun race!

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15 Emily @ Sweet Summer Smiles January 16, 2015 at 7:34 am

Awesome job! I actually drove by the race right before it started and it was packed! It looked so well done too! Looks like you had a blast! I would love to do a Disney race in the future!
PS-props to tackling Disney after your race! That is a workout in itself 🙂
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16 Megan @ I Run For Wine January 23, 2015 at 10:36 am

Awesome recap (as always!). It was so great seeing you over Marathon Weekend.
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