There really isn’t anything like the first time you make that right hand turn down Main Street USA and run towards Cinderella’s Castle during a runDisney event. No matter how many races you have run or how many times you have visited the Magic Kingdom as a park guest, this feeling is like no other. This is one of the many reasons that makes the Walt Disney World Half Marathon so special and Erica here today to share her entire experience with us!
I first discovered the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend back in 2007. I just so happened to be in Epcot as the marathon was wrapping up. I remember seeing all these people running, (most of them in fun costumes), and thought “ I want to do that!”. Well, it’s now 2015 and I finally did it! The Half marathon that is. I will run the full marathon one day!
I ran this race with my husband Erik. This was our second half as we had run the Wine and Dine in 2013. It was quite a difference starting a race at 5:30am instead of 10:00pm (like the Wine and Dine does). I was worried about the 2:45am wake up call, but we managed to haul ourselves out of our nice warm bed and get ready to run! I was also a bit nervous about making it to the corrals on time. This year we stayed off site which meant we had to provide our own transportation. There were many warnings posted at the expo, the runDisney site, and on the roads themselves about closures and to expect significant delays. We left the house around 3:15am and had a very easy drive. There were no closures or delays from the way we came so it was all good!
It was a chilly morning but not as bad as the morning of the 5K which we also ran. I wish we would have brought some throw away clothes and gloves, especially since we were dressed as Flynn Ryder and Rapunzel (I may be from Canada but I was still freezing in my dress!). I also struggled to take pictures as my fingers were so frozen.
Time seemed to go by pretty quickly and it wasn’t long before it was time to get in our corrals. We were corral L, the corrals went up to P.
The corrals were sent off about 3 minutes apart, each getting it’s own fireworks display ( I love how Disney does the same for every corral, not just the faster ones). Once again time went by fast and we were off running!
It was so nice to start running and warm up, plus we were heading to the Magic Kingdom! The road to get there was a bit dull however. There were some characters ( such as Captain Jack Sparrow with Captain Barbosa), but we didn’t stop for any pictures. There was a huge banner along the road to that I really liked but the wind wasn’t cooperating so I missed out on getting picture. Finally though, we arrived at Main Street USA. Wow. Just wow. I’ve read about how amazing it is to turn into Main St and see all the people cheering you on and see the castle, but it was even better in person. I would have loved to be running down it when it was dark since the castle was lit up but the sun was coming out by the time we got there.
We then took a right into Tomorrowland and then on to Fantasyland. We headed through the back of the castle ( where Anna, Elsa and Kristoff were waiting to cheer us on) then off towards Frontierland. We went backstage through where the parade starts in Frontierland and out towards the Grand Floridian. I actually quite liked the stretch near the Grand Floridian and golf course. It seemed peaceful (even with thousands of other runners surrounding us).
We made it just past the halfway point on our way back to Epcot and were pleased to know that we were still on target to finish in under 3 hours which was our goal.
As we looped back towards Epcot, we looked back and could not believe just how many runners there were. I mean, I know there are tens of thousands but it didn’t really sink in until this point.
We made it to mile 9 and then my knee started to act up a bit. Luckily it wasn’t too bad and aside from a couple extended walk breaks, we kept our pace up pretty good.
Before we knew it, we were passing the mile 13 marker!
That meant that we only had point one miles to go! No matter how tired and hurting you are, that mile 13 marker can sure give you a boost. Our finish time was 2:56:12. Under 3 hours!!
It was such a good feeling crossing that finish line and receiving our medals. We skipped getting our pictures taken and headed off to grab the runDisney snack boxes and various other drinks and snacks.
Overall, we had an absolute blast running this race. The early wake up and chilly temperature (at least this year) were well worth it in the end. I cannot wait for our next runDisney event! And of course, none of these races would be as fun or run as smooth if it wasn’t for the thousands of volunteers. From the people handing out water and The , to the people at bag check and the many just there to cheer on the runners, it is greatly appreciated (especially this year in the cooler temperatures. They are standing outside freezing their butts off just for us!).
My name is Erica Chapman. I live in Ontario, Canada and starting running 2012. I have ran four runDisney events and next up is the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. I plan on attempting the Dopey challenge in the future. I am in love with Disney World and visit every year. We even became DVC members in 2014.