Posts Tagged by Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

A Peak Inside runDisney’s Race Retreat!

I’m very excited to welcome Heather back to RAD today for a peak inside runDisney’s Race Retreat! There isn’t much information available about this additional event during some race weekends and I’m thrilled to finally have an inside look at all the details.  From food, characters and accommodations, Heather’s got us covered…let’s go inside!

***

Race Retreat!

Along with the races, runDisney also has some fun and useful events during a race weekend. During WDW marathon weekend and Princess weekend, they have Race Retreat before and after the half (and the full during marathon weekend.) The first time I was trying to decide if I wanted to do Race Retreat, I tried finding reviews online, but there’s really not much out there. So I knew I wanted to write one this time, since it’s still a mystery to most runners, and help you decide if it’s worth it to you!  (RAD Note: Thank You Heather!!)

I’ll say right off the bat that Race Retreat is expensive. This year it was $120. During marathon weekend, you can get it for both the half and full, and that was $230 this year. This year’s Princess Half was the fourth time I’ve done Race Retreat, so even with the price, I have decided that it’s worth it for me for the half marathon. (In 2014, they had Race Retreat with the 10k, too. It wasn’t worth it, which is probably why it’s no longer used for the 10ks!)

So, what IS Race Retreat? It is a tent just off the start/finish area that you can enter before and after the race. It is temperature controlled & out of the weather conditions, has seats where you can relax, has food, has characters you can meet with a short line, has medical and massage (extra charge), has private bag check, has a private set of port-a-poties (so they usually aren’t as disgusting as the ones used by more runners), and has a live video feed of the finish line.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-1

Only runners who have paid for Race Retreat can enter before the race. You pick up a wristband at the expo that you can put on yourself the morning of the race (so no having to wear it for days, like the coast to coast wristbands!) They will check for your wristband both before and after the race when you want to enter the tent. Non-racers who pay for a certain Cheer Squad can enter once the race starts.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-2

Race Retreat is about a 10 minute walk from the regular start/finish area. I always think, wow, I forgot how far this is, when I’m walking over. Especially after running a half! When you are walking from the buses before the race, you have to take a right just before entering the main starting area. Otherwise, you’ll miss it, and have to walk all the way back. Remember this extra time when you are deciding when to leave Race Retreat and head for the corrals! There’s a clock inside that counts down to the starting time for the race that you can keep an eye on. I leave around 4:30, since I’m paranoid and just like to get to the corrals early, but I’m usually one of the first ones to leave the tent.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-3

A big reason I decided to get Race Retreat was that my first half was 2014 Wine & Dine, the Splash and Dash where it rained the entire time. And as I followed along watching the next 2 race weekends, there was a race that was really windy, and one that was freezing. I decided that having an area where I could relax inside, away from mother nature, before heading to the corrals would be a smart idea. The tent IS inside, but I want to say that it’s not really a comfortable temperature. It still feels a bit cold inside. And if you are standing around where the characters are, there’s a big fan and it’s FREEZING in that area. It is still better than standing around outside in the cold, but it’s not exactly as comfortable as I expected the first time I went.

There are tons of tables and chairs inside, and I’ve never  had trouble finding a seat. The very first Race Retreat I went to had a few very comfortable sofas, but I haven’t seen those since. But the chairs they have are fine.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-4

On the tables, both before and after the race, they have Cliff bars or Luna bars.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-5

Usually there’s different color lighting, depending on the theme of the characters. But this year, they had some nice themed decorations in the tent, including on the tables. (I apologize for anything in the background of the pictures. Tables are always being taken and then I guess some runners don’t throw out their trash, because I had a hard time finding any empty table I could take a nice picture of!)

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-6

On each table, they also have a schedule of events, so you can see when the tent opens and closes before and after the race, as well as a menu of the food.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-7

Speaking of food, this is probably the main reason I love getting Race Retreat! Before the race, they have the perfect pre-race fuel, bagels! During other Disney races, I always have to remember (and of course I sometimes forget) to get a bagel at the resort the morning before the race, so I can save it and have it the next day before the race. But with Race Retreat, I don’t have to worry about this at all. I eat my bagel pre-race plain, but they have anything you want to put on the bagel, including peanut butter, jelly, or butter . There’s also whole fruits, such as oranges, apples, and bananas. And in cold buckets, they have small water bottles and poweraide. They also have coffee and sometimes hot chocolate, though I didn’t see it this time, but I think I just missed it.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-8

After the race, I’m always starving! And with a typical Disney half, by the time I hang around the finish area, then travel back to the room, shower, change, and head to the park, it can be a while before I eat. One race weekend, I kept putting off eating because I was hanging out with friends in the park, and I didn’t eat anything until around 2. Not good, at all!! With Race Retreat, I know that I’m going to eat something that I need right after a race, and I honestly think this is the main reason Race Retreat is absolutely worth it for me (I guess these are the most expensive eggs ever!!)

The food Race Retreat has after the race is generally scrambled eggs, potatoes, some kind of meat (I’ve seen bacon in the past, but lately, it’s turkey sausage patties), whole fruit such as oranges and bananas, oatmeal, and muffins. There’s also the same drinks as before the race.  I felt like the food during Princess was the best I’ve had at Race Retreat. The eggs can sometimes be typical Disney scrambled eggs runny, but this time, they were really good. The eggs usually have cheese on them, but I can usually find parts that don’t have any cheese on it (if you’re like me and don’t want eggs with cheese, especially after running a half.)

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-9

There’s usually breakfast potatoes, but this time, they also had a potato and onion soufflé, which was also tasty.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-10

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-11

I always get the turkey sausage patty, and while it’s good, I always remember after taking a bite that it’s pretty sharp. I don’t like spicy things, but if you do, you’ll probably like it. Eggs, potatoes, and meat are exactly what I want after a race, so they do a good job here.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-12

There was a nice selection of muffins. I ended up with a REALLY yummy strawberry muffin. You can see they aren’t labeled, so I tried to guess and take another before leaving, but it was some other type of muffin. Still good though!

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-13

This is the first time I saw cut up fruit after the race, along with Greek yogurt, next to the whole fruit, including oranges.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-14

I was happy, until I saw melon in the fruit salad. I decided to take a chance, and ask one of the Cast Members who was bringing out the food if the fruit was already mixed, and she said no. I explained I was allergic to melon, and she said she could bring me out berries. I was really excited, she came right back with lots of strawberries, grapes and blueberries! I thought that was really nice.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-15

I didn’t have oatmeal, but you can see there’s a nice collection of food they had that you could add to it as well.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-16

They say that breakfast service ends at 10am, but they still had food out well after that. Here’s what the food service tables looked like around 10:30am. They emptied a few tables, but there’s you can see there’s still lots of food out on the further away tables.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-17

I’m a big character person, so another thing I love at Race Retreat are the characters! Usually, you can even find rare characters out! The same characters are out before and after the race, so if you run out of time before the race, you can meet them later. Or you can meet them both before AND after the race, because who doesn’t love meeting characters wearing your medal!? There’s always a Cast Member there to take pictures on your camera or phone. There isn’t a professional photographer with the characters, either from MarathonFoto or Photopass, so make sure you have a camera or phone with you!

The characters at Race Retreat at Princess were from Princess and the Frog, which you probably could guess from the Mardi Gras themed decorations and lighting you’ve seen in earlier pics! Tiana, Naveen, and Louis switched out with Dr Facilier and Louis. Usually there are 2 sets of characters that switch out every half hour. During marathon weekend, though, they had both sets of characters out at the same time! The characters are in the back left hand corner of the tent, and most of the time, there’s no line. Before the race this time, though, the line was longer than usual, and the characters switched out before I made it up there. So I met Tiana, Naveen, and Louis before the race

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-18

It’s nice that you can have some interaction with the characters, too. It’s not like on the race where you quickly snap a picture with the character and run off.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-19

After the race, there was NO ONE waiting for the characters. I’ve found that to be the case every time at Race Retreat, there are more people meeting the characters before the race than after. This time, I met Dr Facilier with Louis.

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-20

Dr Facilier tried to steal my medals because they looked like they were worth a lot, but Louis jumped in and wouldn’t let him. Phew!

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-21

Since the characters change each time, here’s the other characters I’ve met at previous Race Retreats, to give you an idea of the type of characters they can have out. They range from super rare (last year’s Race Retreat was the jackpot for a character hunter like me!), to characters you can meet regularly (most of the Alice characters)

Foulfellow, Stromboli & Gideon and Pinocchio, Gepetto & Jiminy Cricket at 2016 Marathon Weekend

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-22

Belle, Beast & Chip and Lumiere & Cogsworth at 2015 Princess Half Weekend

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-23

Alice, Tweedledum & Tweedledee and Mad Hatter & Queen of Hearts at 2014 Princess Half Weekend

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-24

If you are checking a bag, you don’t have to go to bag check with everyone else. There is bag check inside the tent. This is great after the race, since there’s no wait! At Princess, there’s an extra treat for anyone at Race Retreat after the race. The last two years, they have given out a small, square towel, with the logo of the race. Even if you aren’t checking a bag, you can go to bag check in the tent and get the towel!

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-25

I didn’t take a picture of this (though you can see the layout in an earlier picture of this post), but after entering the tent, you go to the left, and there’s 2 doors to go outside for the women and men port-a-potties. They can only be accessed by those who were in Race Retreat, and they can be used before and after the race. There’s also several stands to wash your hands.

Towards the front of the tent is a medical section on one side, and a massage section on the other side. The massage costs $10. I’ve never gotten one here, but there doesn’t seem to be a long line. Also in this area is the live feed from the finish line. I was in Race Retreat late, so I was able to watch the very last runner cross the finish line this way. She was SO happy, and Goofy and Donald walked her across the finish line. It was really emotional, and I never would have gotten to see it if I wasn’t in Race Retreat, so that was pretty cool.

As I said earlier, at this Race Retreat, they had a lot more theming than other Race Retreats I’ve done, and they even had a great Princess & the Frog backdrop. Before leaving, I asked another runner to take a picture of me in front of it!

2016-Princess-Race-Retreat-Heather-Winfield-26

Hopefully that gives you a good sense about what Race Retreat is like! Any race where it’s available, I always debate if I really need it, but then on race day, I’m so glad I ended up getting it. The chance to relax a bit pre-race, the food, and the characters, is what makes it worth it for me. If you have any other questions about it, let me know!

*****

Heather-Winfield-Bio-PicHeather is an annual passholder that loves coming up with excuses to take a trip to the World. She started doing runDisney races for the characters, but then found out she actually loved running. Visit her website, I Love Characters, to see pictures of the over 240 characters she’s met at Disney World and Disneyland. Follow her adventures at Disney on twitter, instagram and facebook.

You can also find other articles by Heather on RAD where she Compared the Disneyland 10K to Walt Disney World Races and recapped the 2014 Fit for a Princess Health & Fitness Expo.

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend By The Numbers

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is in full swing and over 100,000 runners and their families have descended upon the resort.  As someone who loves some good statistics, I enjoy seeing some of these fun facts about the race weekend…

Fact Sheet - Marathon

Check out the girl power!  57% of the participants are female…go ladies!!  I think what amazes me most about this race weekend is that even with all these people participating in 4 races over 4 days, everything seems to run effortlessly.  That’s what makes runDisney races so magical and what keeps us all coming back year after year.

Best of luck to all the participants this weekend!!

RAD Signature 100x75

 

 

 

For more fun Disney facts, head over to my friend Tony’s site Disney by the Numb3rs where you’re sure to be amazed by some of the Disney stats you will find.

Running Her First Marathon in This Year’s Goofy Challenge

The Goofy Race and a Half Challenge is just that…a BIG challenge!  Well imagine running your first marathon as part of the challenge…well that’s just Goofy!  Well that’s exactly what Gabby did this year and she killed both races!  Check it out…

***

This year, during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend I completed the Goofy Challenge. Side note: this was also my first marathon! When runDisney released the Goofy Challenge 10 year anniversary medal I fell in love! I had already been considering the full marathon for 2015, but never considered Goofy until I saw the medal. I showed it to my husband and he then proceeded to convince me that not only could I complete it, but that he would do it with me (he had never run a half at this point), along with my best friend Em.

So we signed up in April and the three of us began our training in July. We modified the Jeff Galloway plan on the runDisney website. Our longest back-to-back run was 10 miles Saturday and 20 miles Sunday. Though the original plan had called for slightly longer distances, this worked for us and felt like enough training to get us to the finish line.

Half Marathon

Saturday morning finally rolled around and we were up at 3:30 a.m. for the half. We stayed at the Polynesian so that we could just hop on the monorail to Epcot at about 4:15 a.m. We stopped at the porta-potties and then made the cattle crawl to our corrals, while the National Anthem was being sung. I dropped back to corral M so that I could run with Em. We had about a 45-50 minute wait until it was our corrals start time. Despite the weather being colder than anticipated, I was so ready to run. I knew once I got going that I would warm up and that’s exactly what happened. I dressed up as Mr. Smee, but had to add a long sleeved shirt and capris to the outfit.

MrSmee

The plan was to take it easy during the half to save our legs for the full marathon the next day. Em and I felt great after running 2:45 at Wine and Dine so that was our goal. We always run at least the first mile straight at Disney races so that the crowd thins out a little, before converting to our 4:1 run-walk intervals. Well, the crowds didn’t really thin liked we’d hoped it would after a mile (spoiler alert: it was like this the entire race!). Unfortunately, we ended up having to do a lot of weaving and dodging to get around people the duration of the race.

Stilts

These guys did a great job cheering. “Pumpin Up the Party” was playing and I find that song so catchy!

My favorite part of the half marathon is miles 4-7. You go under the Magic Kingdom sign and then through the transportation and ticket center. The energy level of the spectators there was incredible! Definitely a highlight from the races on both Saturday and Sunday. People had some hilarious signs at the TTC that also kept me chuckling. I gave out lots of high fives here.

MKsign

Then we then came up on the tunnel that takes you to the Contemporary. The DJ on top of the bridge is pretty awesome and keeps your energy level up. Then before I knew it we entered a backstage area and were headed towards Main Street USA! I couldn’t believe everything was still decorated for Christmas!

Tree

CastlewithEm

The crowds were ok until we got to the castle where we had to walk because people just weren’t moving. I took the opportunity to get a shot looking down Main Street from the Castle.

MainStreet

We headed past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian and back down World Drive. I really enjoyed the music that they were blasting between miles 11-12 prior to entering Epcot. They had a large screen with cartoons on it that kind of went with the music.

Mime

GenieandAbu

We didn’t stop for a picture with the Mime or Genie and Abu because the lines were crazy, but here are some random people with them.

HalfSelfie

Right before entering Epcot there was a DJ blasting “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston and that gave me a huge burst of energy and I was ready to finish strong! We dashed through Epcot in what seemed like a few seconds, passed the Gospel Choir and there it was – the finish line! We finished in 2:59:32 and were feeling great! One third of the Goofy Challenge was now complete. After lots of stretching we headed back to the Poly to relax for the rest of the day.

HalfMedals

HalfFinish

Full Marathon

We once again woke up at 3:30 am, but were definitely dragging a little more than the day prior. After getting dressed and going outside we were pleasantly surprised that the weather was much warmer than the day before! So we walked to the TTC and boarded a monorail directly to Epcot. I was a ball of emotion the day of the marathon.

The first 8 miles of the course are the same as the half. I was excited to see what the speedway had in store for us. First of all, I was not expecting the steady decline that was immediately followed up by a steady incline to get onto the speedway. Overall, the speedway wasn’t bad. I just had no idea just how huge it would be from the inside!

CastlewithCam

BestDay

Speedway

Speedwayselfie

Mile 11 brought the smelliness of the water treatment plant on Disney property. I found it hilarious that they had signs with fun facts all along the road where the treatment plant was. I guess they thought it would occupy our minds from the smell.

Next up was Animal Kingdom! Outside of Animal Kingdom they had some animals with signs/bibs on. It was adorable! It felt like Animal Kingdom went by in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, we were crossing the split timer for the half marathon!

Everest

Miles14-17 lead us to ESPN wide world of sports. Around mile 16 there was a DJ blasting the best songs at the top of a slight hill. Cameron and I loved this part of the race! My husband teaches 3rd grade and his kids love Phineas and Ferb. When we saw them around mile 16 with no line we knew we had to stop. (I’ve never even seen the show, haha!)

PhineasandFerb

ESPN was pretty boring, which I had already mentally prepared myself for. Around mile 18 I started to struggle which continued through mile 22. There was a weird hill/slant combo between miles 21-22 that was awful. My legs just weren’t having it and hurt pretty badly.

 

Stadium

When we got to Hollywood Studios I was expecting there to be a mass amount of people cheering, but it turned out that not many people were in the park at that time. The disco tunnel had flashing lights, but no music playing which was really strange. Leaving Hollywood Studios there were a lot of people lining the course outside of the park which was awesome! I love this part of the course when we get to run around the boardwalk and towards Epcot. I saw two girls from #TeamSparkle cheering by the slight uphill heading toward Epcot. It was exactly what I needed to get me through the last portion of the race.

TeamSparkle

Photo Credit: Sparkle Athletic

We saw the mile 25 sign and I told Cameron I just wanted to run the rest of the race and he agreed. Epcot was a complete blur I just wanted to see that finish line so badly. When we hit the 26th mile marker I was holding in tears because I knew I wouldn’t be able to breathe if I started crying. We crossed the finish line and all of the built up emotion hit me and I broke down. It was an incredible moment.

CamMedal

GabMedal

Finishers

GoofyFinisher

Goofy Challenge Overview

Doing the Goofy Challenge as my first marathon was definitely risky. Prior to the start of training the longest run I had ever done was 14 miles. Luckily, my body adapted well to running longer distances. I feel that if you train properly (logging enough miles, stretching, icing, foam rolling) then Goofy Challenge is an attainable goal, even as your first marathon. Just be prepared that your life will revolve around training on the weekends. Completing the runs scheduled for Saturday and Sunday is the key to completing Goofy Challenge as it preps your body for what is to come.

Something new this year with the Goofy Challenge is that they took your picture with your bib at the expo. Then after you finished the half and full you also had your picture taken as proof of finishing (along with your time). After the full marathon they used a computer to type in your bib number and verify that you qualified for the Goofy medal. Dopey Challengers did the same thing. This replaced the prior armband system.

Overall, WDW Marathon weekend was an awesome experience and I’m so lucky to have been present two years in a row! The feeling of being surrounded by so many people who have the same passion that I do is indescribable. I now wonder what it would be like to run a marathon on fresh legs…hmmm. Hopefully I’ll find out someday!

postrace

Goofy

Celebrating with Goofy was a must!

*****

My name is Gabby and I blog over at The Running Goober. I live in Virginia and work as a Registered Nurse. Running and strength training are my favorite ways to stay active. I started distance running in the fall of 2013 and ran my first half marathon at Disney World in January 2014. Since then I have completed 5 more half-marathons and 1 full marathon.

The 2015 Walt Disney World 10K

While Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend has been around for over two decades, the Walt Disney World 10K is still in it’s infancy.  Heather is a veteran of Marathon Weekend and knew after seeing the Minnie medals at last year’s inaugural race, she had to have one of her own.  

***

Marathon weekend is one of my favorite Disney trips of the year. Last week marked the 3rd year my family participated and the first time I did the 10k. Last year I walked the half marathon and was incredibly jealous of the adorable Minnie Mouse medals, so I knew I had to get my hands on it this year.

It started out at packet pickup on Thursday which went smoothly, no lines and we picked up 3 packets in about 15 minutes. (My husband’s 1/2 marathon, kids race and 10k). We even ran into Sean Astin! Sean was running the Dopey and was such a sweet guy chatting with my husband and I as we took a ton of pictures.

sean astin

sean astin2

Once that excitement was over we made our way through the expo.  Sadly I could find no merchandise for the 10k. While I understand that most people running are also running the Dopey it would have been nice to have some Minnie merchandise for the 10K runners. I started to feel at the expo that the 10K was the ugly stepsister of the weekend.

My morning started with my 2:15 am wake up call and our group (my dad and sister plus picture taker hubby) was up and out the door by 3:00 am. Since we were staying close but off property we wanted to make sure we got there early in case parking was an issue. Thankfully it was not and I was thrilled to have a warm place to hang out for a few minutes since it was 46 degrees out. I am from Miami so any dip below 70 is sweater weather so I was thankful I brought some sweaters I picked up from Goodwill to toss once I warmed up on the course. (Great tip! Goodwill is a good place to get inexpensive throw away clothes for chilly race mornings!) 

wearing 3 sweater and 2 shirts

Once we decided that we could brave the cold we headed to the pre-race party where the DJ had a ton of people dancing and energy was pretty high. There were tons of great costumes and TONS of Dopey bibs. There was a nice photo background for people doing the dopey challenge but the only one for us was the Disney marathon weekend background, I would have really liked to have a 10k background. There were no professional photographers there so you were free to take pictures with your own camera.

pre race photo

pre race

It was freezing before the race and some racers found their way into a large white tent. I asked a few people what it was and no one had an answer but it turns out it was the tent set up for massages following the half and full marathons. For the 10k though it was a perfect place to try and warm up.

dancing to stay warm

I was in corral E and knew that I would be walking this race and only stopping to meet characters or pictures of something awesome or someone I never see around the parks. I had done the 5k and the 1/2 marathon in the past which had some great stops so I was hopeful to see some hard to find characters on this course too. I only planned on stopping at something I had not seen before because I always get super paranoid about pace requirements which I always come close to thanks to nerves and lines at bathrooms.

The race stated with 10 minutes between each corral so even using the bathroom before getting into my corral I knew I had to stop at the first one. I was near the front of my corral since I always seemed to miss the fireworks and I didn’t want that to happen this time. Once we got the go ahead we started and I was already wishing the bathroom was closer. The first one wasn’t until around the 1 mile mark and lines were long so I kept going. It would have been awesome to have a few more potties at that stop as there were tons of men and women running toward the trees because lines were 10 people deep.

The course was a bit boring for first 3 miles which was only street and back lot, with a couple of character stops but it was pretty light on the music and had no crowd support. Thank goodness for voice command, I called my husband around 3 miles to pump me up mid way through the race. It worked I was got the support I needed and then the streets started to get familiar until finally around mile 3.5 we got to Epcot!

heading back into epcot

Once we got into the park it was an entirely different race. You can almost feel the excitement from the crowd and everyone’s pace gets a little faster with that extra pep in their step. Running through the parks never gets old! Entering Epcot and walking through the countries was great and there were tons of professional photographers along that stretch of the race. I was sure to keep a smile on my face since you never know when the camera is pointed at you. Once you make your way through he countries you head out onto the boardwalk. This was the first race that I would be on the Boardwalk and I was super excited, I was hoping for some good crowd support and the people there were just what I needed for the last mile or so. Leaving the Boardwalk and heading back into Epcot I started to get a little teary because I could hear the excitement at the finish, music was pumping and everyone around me was bursting with energy. I was thrilled to see my runner hubby at the finish and he got some photo proof I actually finished.

almost there

Once I crossed the finish there were lots of volunteers giving medals and I finally got my hands on the Minnie Medal! The medal is really nice and has a really vibrant ribbon.

proof i am almost there

finish line

got my minnie medal

Overall I would probably do the 10K again because it is a doable distance that I could walk with little or no training. There were tons of walkers and kids on the course and lots of smiling faces. You could tell people were having a blast through the course. There were enough water stops and no fuel on this course but there was food for purchase at the start and finish.

I am thrilled that there is a race distance in between the 5K and 1/2 marathon distance and hope the 10K grows so it has a strong pack of 10K participants in a sea of Dopeys.

Of course the best part of participating in Disney Marathon Weekend is walking around the park wearing the race shirt and the medal. No mater what the size or shape of the person who is wearing the medal there is a sense of unity and accomplishment and it’s amazing to be a part of. The true highlight though is the family picture of all the racers wearing their medal in front of the castle, it’s pure Disney Magic.

back at the expo

*****

Melissa Rubenstein is a Family Chiropractor in Miami and a Homeschooling Mom.  She is married to a streak runner and has completed numerous runDisney races. 

Traveling From Australia for a Dopey 50th Birthday

When Andrew first contacted me and told me about the adventure he had planned for his 50th birthday, I was beyond excited to share his experience here on RAD.  Andrew and his family traveled halfway around the world as he took on the Dopey Challenge.  He might have recruited them to run a bit with him as well.

***

How best might a runner celebrate a ‘big’ birthday and have the family join in as well?  The Dopey Challenge provided the answer!

Exactly one year ago (and the date of the 2014 WDW marathon) I set the challenge for me and my family: I’m going to run this event next year for my 50th birthday and you’re invited to come with me, but there’s a catch – you have to join me in at least one leg of the Challenge each!

And with that, baited by the idea of an overseas trip (and not really understanding the 3:30 am wake-up times!) the Dopey Challenge for 2015 became a year-long family adventure. From planning the rest of the trip, raising the funds, making the bookings – and training – it was a step up for each family member. But the running was where the big steps were required;

  • for the 14 year old who had never run longer than 10k to run a half,
  • the daughter who isn’t into running to run a 10k,
  • the 16 year old to get out of bed at 3:30am!,
  • the wife to go from 0 kilometers as a runner to a full marathon in exactly 12 months.

Now the other challenge was traveling half way round the world. From Australia to Orlando. From summer to winter. From time zone to who knows what time zone it is! We joked that jet lag might actually help!!

After a white Christmas we hit Orlando and thought it was just as cold! We stayed in a family room at the All Star Resort and it was just the right size and space. We bought 6 day tickets and had marathon Sunday ‘off’. The four events made an incredibly memorable birthday experience that lasted for four days!

The Family 5K was first – and it should have featured Elsa on the medal and not Pluto… it was a truly Frozen event!

These guys had great costumes …. And at least some warmth!

These guys had great costumes …. And at least some warmth!

Despite the cold we had great fun. We started in Corral A which helped get the race over with faster and we dressed up as Peter Pan and Captain Hook. We met a fellow runner whose surname was ‘Hook’ and he even asked to have a photo with us! We got lots of comments about how strange it was for Peter and Hook to be doing something together to which we assured them this was a once-off!

2015-Dopey-Challenge-Aussies-3

2015-Dopey-Challenge-Aussies-2

How hard is it to order a drink around here!!

The 10K was a heat wave by comparison!

After a day at Hollywood Studios – and the last sighting of Mickey’s hat – we got up for the 10K.  Tinker Bell joined me this time and boy was she glad she didn’t have that costume on the day earlier!

2015-Dopey-Challenge-Aussies-4

A highlight was the cheerers chanting “Pan and Tink! Pan and Tink!” That really lifted us over the finish line! Another highlight was my 16 year old son racing – and winning – his age group and coming 11th overall 🙂

Magic Kingdom here we come …..

The Half Marathon was a long day!   Not only because of the 3:30am start but because we started in Corral P, the last corral (because one of us didn’t have a qualifying time).

Again it was very cold but there was a lovely warm camaraderie in the very last group. Running with my two super guys was terrific fun as Captain America, Mr. Incredible and Hercules. Once the cold thawed out we got into the run but the lines for character photos were SO long by this stage we pushed on, most of the time on the grass to go around the walkers. No one complained though, they all just enjoyed the experience. For some pretty fast teenagers, this shows how the crowd experience at runDisney events is bigger than individuals.

Sharing my sons first official half marathons was a great feeling for a Dad!

Sharing my sons first official half marathons was a great feeling for a Dad!

Epcot here we come!

Epcot here we come!

Marathon day was amazing.

For this one I was worried about the crowds but the Disney organization really shined. We had so many character photo opportunities, often just running straight into the front of the line. Everything was well spaced and, compared to Corral P, the experience was much more pleasant.

I really enjoyed some of the different experiences – like the Speedway and Wide World of Sports (the track and the baseball ground).

2015-Dopey-Challenge-Aussies-8

A light sprinkling of rain at Hollywood Studios was refreshing rather than wet (especially compared to the next day’s thunderstorm). My wife and I ran as Jasmine and Aladdin and two of our favorite photos were with the ‘Aladdin’ characters because of the over-the-top welcome we received!

2015-Dopey-Challenge-Aussies-7

2015-Dopey-Challenge-Aussies-9

2015-Dopey-Challenge-Aussies-12

Taking along you own personal cheer squad really helps!

And then before you know it, Donald and Pluto greet you at the finish line and you’re wearing 6 medals around your neck and you’re officially “Dopey”. That last kilometer is really a bit of a blur!

2015-Dopey-Challenge-Aussies-10

So how do you capture the four days (and year’s journey) in words? I got the kids to wear costumes! I captured it all with (maybe) a million photos! I got to run and experience their running ‘firsts’ as well. We wore medals and enjoyed the Parks together. I still can’t think of another experience where we could do all these things as a family together.  A great birthday overall with a ripper celebration dinner on marathon night at Downtown Disney.

I’ve been disappointed with some posts I’ve been following where runDisney is criticized for many things. Apparently some people think it’s possible to create a perfect Disney experience with 30,000 runners. The logistics were great, any question was answered happily, lots of goodies, great bling. In fact the next running event is going to be hard to match up to this one.

My key bits of advice:

  • Get a time registered or beware of ending up in Corral P. OK if you’re a walker or slow, but if you’re anything of a runner it makes a long hard slog of an event.
  • Make a dinner reservation for the night to make it pleasurable and not like some who wandered around fruitlessly.
  • Get the photo pack – and take in as many opportunities as you can.

The 51st birthday celebrations are going to seem a little low key compared to this!!

 

 

Next Page »