Category: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler

Running The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler All By Myself…Not Really

As many runDisney veterans can tell you, when you run a Disney race you are never really alone even if you start out that way.  The spectators, on course entertainment and overall friendly atmosphere make it the perfect place to run if you are a solo runner or if it is your first long distance race.  Well this past weekend, Holly found all of that to be very true as she ran The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler!  If you have ever hesitated to run a race because the distance seemed to long or because you didn’t have a running partner, you MUST read this story!

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10 miles…52,800 feet…633,600 inches…Could I really run that far? All by myself? In a crowd of 12,000 people? YES! How do I know? Because I DID it! And you can, too!

Saturday, October 4, 2014 was my first ever runDisney event, my first ever competitive distance over 3.1 miles, and most importantly, the first time I’ve ever run a race without a friend along for encouragement. My husband and I were vacationing at Walt Disney World for 11 days and my race was scheduled for day 10 of our trip. After nine and a half days of beating up my feet in the autumn heat, humidity, and rain, I was about to say goodbye to my husband and start on a two-and-a-half hour journey all on my own. This wasn’t just any race for me. There was a lot riding on this finish.

After running a 5K last year, I wanted to try a longer race, but I hate to run, so I really needed something that would motivate me to keep lacing up my sneakers again and again.  My friend Jessica suffers from a chronic form of cancer that she will be battling for the rest of her life, and I found that motivation when I decided to run for Jessica’s benefit. Every time we come home from WDW, Jessica anxiously awaits my report of all of the new things that are happening in our favorite place. But as her cancer recurs again and again, I’ve started to notice a change in Jessica’s eyes when we talk about these trips. It’s not jealousy or sadness, but a steely acceptance that she’ll only ever experience these things vicariously through me. With such an uncertain future, allocating money to a Disney vacation is just not something that her family can do. So I decided to take action. I decided that I would run a race to raise money to send Jessica and her family to Disney. When we arrived in Florida, we had already exceeded our fundraising goal of $5000 and all that was left was for me to finish the race.

On race night,we took the Mears event bus from Saratoga Springs Resort at 7:45pm and arrived at the staging area which is in the Film parking lot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We entered the event venue via the makeshift bag check line, but no Disney Cast Members were there to welcome us or give directions. The giant parking lot loomed in front of us with lines to sign the guest registry, lines to take a photo, lines to take a last minute potty break.

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I was too nervous to be in the mood for dancing, but a DJ was warming up the crowd and playing lots of familiar, inspiring tunes from both Disney and popular repertoires. While waiting in line, we met up with two other solo runners, but they were starting in different corrals, so I would have to say goodbye to my new friends once the race began.

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At 9:15, my husband and I went our separate ways. He went off to watch the start of the race from the big screen and I headed into my corral dreading the 10 lonely miles ahead and wishing that I had chosen the 5K instead so I could have been on my way to the Villain’s Bash instead of embarking on the torture trail. I kept my phone with me for comfort and because I didn’t want to do this run without access to a camera!

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At about 9:45, the corrals started to move out to the starting line. I had submitted my estimated finish time of 2:15:00, which had earned me a starting spot in corral H. Usually I can find someone to chat with in any Disney situation, but during the 30 minutes that I spent in the corral, I didn’t speak to anyone. I was just too nervous. Then at 10:00, the first corral was released.  I wanted to run away, but I had come this far and there was no turning back now. As each corral was released on 2-minute intervals, I felt more and more nervous. Then suddenly about 20 minutes into the race, our time had come! This time the fireworks were for corral H!

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At that moment, I was missing my training buddies. I wanted to chat away the 10 miles with them as we alternated between jogging and walking. I wanted to look forward to sharing the joy of crossing the finish line with them. I wanted their support and encouragement for the moments ahead when I was going to want to quit.

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Typically, I run 1-minute intervals, but as all of the people around me started to run, I got caught up in the excitement. I ran for nearly a mile and a half straight before I realized that I had better pace myself if I hoped to survive until the end. We ran all the way to Animal Kingdom before turning around on Osceola Parkway and heading back to ESPN Wide World of Sports. Between the mile markers, characters, music, and water stops, it was easy to get lost in the atmosphere and not pay attention to the distance for the first five miles or so.

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Somewhere around mile 6, running started to become difficult. I had only done three runs that were longer than 6 miles, so I expected to be tired by this point. Then the most amazing thing happened. We turned the corner into one of the baseball diamonds and spectators were lining the stadium to cheer for us. From the time we left that stadium, volunteers and families lined our route shouting words of encouragement, smiling, waving giant Mickey hands at us. Suddenly I didn’t feel alone anymore. These people were cheering for me! Encouraging me to keep running! I wanted to stop and hug each and every one of them individually for giving up their time to help motivate 12,000 strangers to accomplish something a goal.

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We made a left turn back onto Osceola Parkway and down the home stretch to Hollywood Studios. I wasn’t alone anymore. These people were rooting for me and my husband was waiting at that finish line, ready to tell me how proud he was of me. I was unstoppable! I had long since thrown the intervals out the window. I was running for as long as I could and walking when I needed to conserve energy. When we passed under the Hollywood Studios welcome sign, Hades was waiting for us and announcing that we only had a mile and a half to go!

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As we wove our way through Hollywood Studios, both onstage and backstage, the excitement started to build. We ran past the hat and past Toy Story Mania before looping around backstage to the finish line. All the while, people were cheering and it was such an amazing feeling! As soon as I crossed the finish line, a volunteer was waiting with a cool towel. Then another volunteer handed me a medal and another presented bottles of water and powerade. Down the line, more volunteers were waiting to hand me a snack box and a banana and someone else wanted to take my picture.

Twelve thousand people crossed the starting line for this race and when I crossed the finish line, every single person that I encountered made me feel like I won the race. It was a hero’s welcome so grand that I could barely feel the pain in my legs and feet. All of the feelings of being alone and scared at the start had vanished. I was inaugurated as a member of the runDisney club. I wasn’t alone after all. I had this huge network of strangers who cared enough to make me feel like I had scaled Mt. Everest. My time of 2:07:11 was good enough to finish 432 out of 1102 participants in my age group, better than I could have hoped for at the start of the race.

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In the end, I’m glad I was running by myself. I could set my own pace and shift my position on the course to avoid traffic without the burden of pacing myself to the group’s speed and ability. I was able to run when I wanted to run and walk when I needed to walk. The festive atmosphere and music was enough to keep the course fresh and interesting. I did not stop for any character photos because the lines were long and I didn’t want to risk falling behind the required pace, but seeing Jafar, Captain Hook, Queen of Hearts, Big Bad Wolf, Stitch, Dr. Facilier, the hyenas, and others on the course certainly helped to keep that atmosphere light. I will do a runDisney event again and I would readily run alone again. It was intimidating at first, but the tremendous volunteers and all of the fanfare made it a fantastic and memorable experience!

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*****

Holly Liska never thought she would be a runner. As a gymnast, she grew up competing in an anaerobic sport and struggled with the endurance required to run long distances. After one season of high school track, she didn’t care to ever run again, but a community event sponsored by the Real Estate Agency where she works inspired her to try to run a 5K. She’s been running regularly ever since and she just completed her first 10-mile race.

Merchandise Preview for 2014 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend

Your trip into the fifth dimension is fast approaching and runDisney has shared a sneak preview of some of the merchandise you will be able to purchase at the Health & Fitness Expo.  I’m a BIG fan of the switch from Stitch as the race weekend “mascot” to Maleficent.  She is much more sinister and evil than mischievous Stitch.  This maroon shirt looks like it is the official race shirt that you will be getting with registration.  The graphic is a bit large for my taste, but I really like the color of the shirt.

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The black “I Did It” shirt is SUPER cool and how can you go wrong with the hitchhiking ghosts on a pin?!

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I’m also a big fan of this purple shirt and black jacket.  A bit more understated than the maroon shirt.

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So what do you think?  How many of these items will you be purchasing this weekend?  What’s your favorite?

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2014 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Race Weekend Info

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For the third year, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler has crept up on us once again…are you ready to take a trip into the fifth dimension??  Well I hope so because I have all the information you will need for the race weekend so you can run directly to these medals!

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Health & Fitness Expo

Like all other runDisney race weekends you will need to start yours by heading to the Health & Fitness Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Hours for the Expo are:

  • Friday, October 3rd: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Saturday, October 4th: 8:30 am – 3:00 pm

Participants in all of the races MUST attend the Expo to turn in signed waivers (click here to print your waiver) and pick up race packets, which include your race bib with B-Tag timing devices, race shirt, and gEAR bag.  The gEAR bag also doubles at the bag to use for bag check during the race.  This is also where you will receive any commemorative items you may have purchased during registration, such as pins or necklaces.

Your first stop at the Expo will be the HP Field House for Packet Pick Up.  If you are unable to attend the Expo, you can arrange for an absentee pick-up by filling out an authorization form (found here) and providing the person picking up your bib with a photo copy of your ID and signed waiver.  This is also where the Speaker Series will be held throughout the weekend.

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From there you will then proceed across the way to the Jostens Center to pick up your race shirt and gEAR bag, visit with over 40 vendors and spend all your money on runDisney merchandise.

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Here’s a preview of some of the merchandise that will be available from runDisney!

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Resort Transportation

Bus transportation will be available to bring participants to and from ALL events taking place during The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend.  This includes the Expo, 5K, Kids Races and 10-Miler.  Bus service to the Expo will run during the following times:

  • Friday, October 3rd: 9:30 am – 7:30 pm (last bus will leave resorts at 6:30 pm)
  • Saturday, October 4th: 8:00 am – 3:30 am (last bus will leave resorts at 2:30 pm)

For the 5K, runners must be on a bus by 6:30 am to make it to the corrals by 7:15 am at the latest.  For Kids Races, families must be on a bus by 8:30 am to make it to the corrals by 9:15 am at the latest.  For the 10-Miler, runners must be on a bus by 8:15 pm to make it to the corrals by 9:15 pm at the latest.  Buses will run until 4:00 am on Sunday for a return trip to the resort.  If you are staying at the Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan or Dolphin, you have the option of walking to the staging area.

These are the host resorts for the weekend:

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas Resort
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Villas Resort
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Driving Directions

If not staying at a host resort, participants will need to provide their own transportation to all events.  An important thing to note is that there will be NO parking at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on the evening of the race.  Runners and spectators will need to park at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and take shuttles to the Studios.  Runners must be on a shuttle by 8:15 pm, so make sure to leave extra time to park your car and wait in line for a shuttle.

Costumes

Since these races have a villain/Halloween theme, the costumes are always great!!  It’s amazing to see what some people run in!  Last year I ran into the Siamese Cats from Lady and the Tramp!

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Please note that runners are NOT allowed to wear a face mask of any kind and will be removed from the course if this is violated.  This is for your own safety, especially during a night race!  So who are you dressing up as??

Bag Check

Participants MUST use the clear bag provided at the expo to check any belongings during the race and affix the label with their bib number on the outside.  Tip for you: Put a small, lightweight backpack or duffle bag inside your clear gEAR bag to transfer everything into after the race.  The strings on the gEAR bags make them horribly uncomfortable to carry around if you are planning on staying for the after party.

All bags must be checked by 9:00 pm in the Film Lot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Bags will be available for pick-up at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Theatre and must be claimed by 2:30 am on the morning of October 5th.  This is a LONG hike after the race so if you are meeting friends or family at the after party, consider having them take your bag instead of checking it.

Staging Area & Start Corrals

The corrals will be located on the south side of the Film parking lot past the bag check area.  Your corral will be listed on your race bib and you will only be granted access to that corral or one behind you.  All runners MUST be in their starting corral by 9:15 pm.  Corrals will then be walked down to the starting line (starting with A), which is on the other side of the main toll plaza at the south entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The 10-Miler will start at 10:00 pm with the wheelchair start at 9:58 pm.

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You can find your corral placement by printing your waiver and finding the corresponding corral for your bib number.

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Race Bibs

Bibs must be centered on the front of your shirt.  Safety pins will be provided in your race packet at the expo.  Do not bend our fold your bib, as the ChronoTrack B-tag will be affixed to the back of the bib which will be used to track your time.  If your bib is not properly centered, damaged or covered, your time may not be recorded properly.  Your bib will also be used for the on course photographers, so make sure the number is clearly visible.

Pacing Requirements

You must keep a minimum of 16-minutes per mile throughout the race or you will run the risk of being picked up and brought to the finish line.  Keep this in mind if you are planning to stop for character photos.  Those lines can get long and it’s easy to lose track of time.  Pace cyclists and the dreaded balloon ladies will be on the course to let you know if you have fallen behind.

Aid Stations

There will be 7 PowerAde and water stops along the course and they are located approximately 1.5 miles apart from each other.  The PowerAde flavor is lemon-lime, so if that isn’t your thing you should carry your own.

Changing Tents

Changing areas will be available outside the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Theatre after the race so you can get out of those sweaty clothes to enjoy the Disney Villains Hollywood Bash.  But be warned that there is no privacy and the tents are HOT, so I have found that it is worth it to stand in line for a bit to get into an air conditioned restroom to change.

Course Maps

Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run

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The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler

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More information on other events like the Kids Races is available on the runDisney website and in the Official Event Guide for the weekend.  Also, check out some of my packing tips as your get ready to travel and one of my plans for prepping for night races.  I have run this race race for the past two years and have a lot of tips and insight in my race recaps.  Hopefully you will find some of them useful:

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I decided to take a break from running this race this year, but I have tons of reporters out there bringing you photos and stories from the weekend.  I have my fingers crossed for you that this year brings some cooler temps so you have a more enjoyable race.  I can’t wait to follow along!!

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Contributors Needed for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend

This is the first year I will not be running The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler and because I won’t be there, I need YOUR HELP!!

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I am looking for anyone who will be in Walt Disney World that weekend (October 3-5, 2014) to cover all of the events!!  I will be following along from afar, but there is nothing like actually being there.  Here are some ideas for posts:

  • Race Recaps
    •  The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler
    • Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run
    • runDisney Kids Races
  • Disney Villains Hollywood Bash
    • A Runner’s Point of View
    • A Spectator’s Point of View
  • Health & Fitness Expo
  • runDisney Speaker Series
  • First Time runDisney Runner Experiences
  • Preparing for a Night Race vs. a Morning Race
  • Getting the Most Out of Your WDW Vacation While Running
  • Enjoying the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival When Running
  • Creating a Costume for the Race
  • Halloween Fun in Walt Disney World
  • VoluntEARing
  • And anything else you can think of…

Choice of topic will come on a first serve basis, so email me at sarah@runningatdisney.com if you are interested in covering one (or many!) of the events over The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend for Running at Disney!!

Now who is looking forward to getting one of these glowingly rad medals?!?!

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Also, check out my new The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend Pin Board!  Follow along as I will be updating it with images leading up to and after the event!

Best of luck to everyone running and I look forward to hearing from you!

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2014 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend Medals Are GLOWingly Fun!

This week runDisney revealed the designs for the 2014 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend and as I’m sure you can tell…some of them GLOW-IN-THE-DARK!

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The 10-Miler medal always glowed in the dark and of course still features the sliding elevator.  The ribbon has been changed for 2014 and it looks like Stitch is no longer the “mascot” of the race.  I never got that anyway…

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The Kids Races medallion doesn’t glow, but is super cute with a trick-or-treating Donald.

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And finally, the SUPER cool new Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run medallion.  Not only does it glow-in-the-dark, but it also features the Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion!  Looks like they really will be following you home!

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What do you think about the new medals?  Are you running any of the races of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend?

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