Okay Friends, here’s part 3 of 4….You may be sick of reading these, but if you ever plan a race with travel, or a Disney Race you will appreciate learning from my experience. I traveled for this race with friends from college. We decided to each be a different Princess (Belle, Snow White, Jasmine, and Cinderella) although we did discuss in the future picking a movie and all being different characters.
Clothing note: Make sure you back warm and cold weather clothes. You don’t know what Orlando is going to be like. I wore a blue long sleeve and blue gloves, I had also packed a winter headband but it was warm enough that I didn’t need it, I also had but didn’t bring an oversized sweatshirt which I would have ditched when the race started. I also would apply sunscreen at least to your shoulders as the sun was out in full force for the last 4 miles.
On Sunday morning we were up at 2:45 am, and out the door by 3:20. We attempted to get in bed early, but I think it was 10 pm by the time we fell asleep. We used the hotel room’s coffee maker to help get us out the door, but we also bought the VIP Race Retreat package with meant we had: coffee, bagels, fruit, water, and orange juice waiting for us. We took pictures and enjoyed everyone’s costumes while taking 2 bathroom breaks each.
Lining up for the actual race started at 5 am, the official race start was 5:30 am, but we didn’t cross the start line until 6:30 am! I was given corral H for a starting spot, which meant I would have left closer to 5:45 am, but my friends were given corral P, so I stayed with them. We should have tried to switch/sneak to mine. The race tells you to pace at a 15 minute mile so that you can be ahead of the 16 min mile cut off. And this would be great, except for the wait time for pictures.
While waiting for this photo we had 2 medics telling us we had 6 minutes to take our photo or the balloons (the 16 min mile/cut off pacers would pass us). This was not helpful or encouraging, all it did was create stress. What was worse, they were telling us at the back of the line, but not telling the people at the front of the line, who were taking much longer with their photos.
Our group of 4 ended up splitting. The front two ran ahead and said they would wait at “good” pictures stops where we could jump in with them (which we only did once). I was in the slower group and we would pause for selfies with the characters that the front two had skipped. The majority of the course is on random Disney roads, so the character stops are a welcome distraction!
By a stroke of luck we ran into them near the castle. If you’re going to split your group, have an exact plan of where to meet (aka, always on the left, at a specific mile marker, or landmark). This requires that you know the course, which is something we should have done better. As you can see, the course is full, and this continues for the majority of the race.
The castle itself…was an accident waiting to happen. Too many people, too close together, with little/no air flow. They should separate it into a run side and a walk/photo side. I’d include a picture from under the castle, but it’s just a bright light and a whole lot of bodies attempting to move in the same direction.
As we were getting to the castle my phone started looking funny, as if the screen was cloudy. I thought maybe it was sweat, but wasn’t sure. I think the Genie was about mile 8, and you can see that my phone is really not working at this point. The picture was taken, and afterwards my screen went totally out. (it returned to normal by that night, but it sure was weird).
The last few miles of the course is where all the hills are hiding. I knew we went on an on-ramp, but I wasn’t prepared for the other 3 hills. I wish we could have taken a few more turns through Magic Kingdom instead of taking this hilly run back to the Epcot area.
There are also a few out and immediate backs which are frustrating. The only thing keeping me from cheating was my own motivation. The post-race finish was also frustrating, we almost missed the medals because a volunteer was yelling “go all the way down” only to find out that she was at the end, and there were no medals past where she was. We went through the photo stop, and attempted to find the VIP Race Retreat where our gear and food was waiting for us. I was completely tired and a little worried about my hydration which was less than usual, and the weather was warmer than I usually race in. We ended up not having the time/energy to buy mimosas at the race, but we did mix some in our room instead, and then made our way to the beach outside of our hotel!
- Race Retreat was 100% worth the extra money.
- Complete one large crowd race (of any distance) before doing a Run Disney race as it will prepare you for the random things that can happen.
- Be patient, there were 24,000 people doing the race, and things are bound to have long wait times.