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.
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!)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.