- 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other
- Road Race
- Event Website
This was my first half marathon. I will start with preface this review with I am a lover of Disney. This made this an ideal first half marathon for me. Strip away the actual Disney, however, and it was still a well run and organized race experience.
The expo was fantastic. Getting into packet pickup was no trouble. I had my waivers printed and signed ahead of time, but facilities were available to print if needed. They had the bibs for the various races split up to help alleviate any lines. I was there early the first day and had no issues. After getting my bib I had to go to the lower level to pickup my shirts as well as my preordered pins. After picking up my shirts, I realized one was going to be a little small. They had an ability to exchange shirts, you could trade in your shirt for one in another size fi they had available. It was a great added touch I have not seen at any other races. The expo was held in the ESPN Wide World of Sports, so things were split into multiple buildings. After picking up my swag, there was Disney merchandise for sale in that area. This was nice because it was off of the main expo area. Over in the next building was the main event. The expo had a large amount of vendors with a good variety. There were a great amount of samples as well. There was a secondary runDisney area, which was the main portion of the expo that was a little crowded. The rest was pretty good on crowd levels. For the runDisney shoes, they had a separate area that allowed for you to enter for a virtual spot in line, and they would then text and email you when it was your turn. All around, the expo was fantastic.
Race day was an experience. Given the time you were to be in corrals made for a very early call time. We drove in as we stayed off site. Travel in was easy and there was plenty of parking as we were quite early. We wanted to be sure to get a parking spot at EPCOT to avoid having to park at Magic Kingdom and then take the monorail over. Since we had a car, we didn't need bag check. We were able to hit the port-o-pots early before there was too much of a line. They had a DJ playing some music to keep things lively. We were able to get a photo op or two as well with some of the backdrops pre-race. Then came the long walk to the corrals. It wasn't as long as I imagined given what I had read from other people, but it also wasn't right next to the staging area. Once in the corrals, it took a while to get started. Then, once they started, it took a while to even get to our corral. The nice part was that they gave each corral the same level of show, with Donald Duck counting down, fireworks and cheering. That part was very cool. It was still a little dark when we started. The course started just outside EPCOT and worked it’s way towards the Magic Kingdom. Along the way was a large pirate ship with Captain Jack for photo opportunities. The course went through the Ticket and Transportation Center then under the water bridge and past Disney’s Contemporary Resort before entering the Magic Kingdom. For being a Disney fan, this was the best part of the course. You start by running down Main Street U.S.A towards Cinderella Castle. You then cut off to the side through Tomorrowland before running out through the castle from behind to a large crowd of spectators. It was a really cool experience. I actually thing running down Main Street U.S.A. towards Cinderella Castle was actually more magical then running out from in it, though both were quite cool.
The course then turned out through Frontierland and then onto the cast members only roads. This was the most crowded part of the course. Any time you went in and out of a park, there tended to be a bottle neck, due to a physical limitation, usually of an entrance only being so wide. When on the back side of the park, it was a simple two lane road with a slope on either side, so no shoulder. They had to keep one lane open for operations. This made for a limited running space. It was crowded. It was moving still but was pretty crowded. If you were a very fast runner, this section would have slowed you down a bit. This part also felt a little boring. They did have one section of straight away with speakers playing music but there were no characters to see, not much in the way of sights to see, just some trees and a crowded road. After making out of this section, we passed down past Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, by the race way and golf courses. Then it was back to the highways to head to EPCOT.
There were two hard parts of the course, both of which were ramps. The first was the ramp to turn towards EPCOT. The hardest part also wasn’t the hill but the bank of the turn itself. It made it difficult to run or even walk. I ended up needing to walk on the grass that was uneven because it was less difficult than the sloped road. The second was near the end, a fly over that went to the entrance to EPCOT. This wasn’t banked, just a l-o-n-g up and over hill, where you could see the promised land but knew you had more to go. When came down the hill and entered the park. We looped through by the countries up to the front of the park and then out the side to the finish line. Just before the course opened up for the finish, the gospel choir greeted us. I had heard about this before, but it was very cool in person. Then it was just a straight away to the finish. Just before the finish line I have Goofy a high five and then crossed with hands held high.
After the race there were plenty of volunteers with the medals. The medal was high quality; heavy duty with a cool design and a patterned strap that just added to the medal. There was an area where you could get free ice and wrap on as well as some Biofreeze. I had never used it before but my shoulders and back were sore, I think from tensing up. I was tired and undertrained but I finished. I have to say, I love that stuff now. It immediately went to work and helped. Then we went passed tables and tables of water and Poweraid and then down the aisles to get our box of food. This was a good touch because you got a good mix of food without having to worry about being without food as a slow runner. We were exhausted so we grabbed our stuff and hobbled back to the car, skipping the post race festivities for a shower, nap and food (to hit the parks later, of course).
The race on the whole was a great experience. The cost is higher than other half marathons, but you get a premium experience for it. Loving Disney, there were a lot of special parts that I loved. Even not being a Disney person, my running partner greatly enjoyed it. runDisney puts on a great race. There were a lot of runners, so while flat, it’s not a race to run for time. It IS a race to enjoy. I most certainly will be going back again, and taking whoever will go with me.