Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap

by Meghann on January 14, 2015



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.


We dined on delicious calamari, salad, arancini,




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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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Woo hoo!


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.



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


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.


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.

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