experiences

Running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon

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In a fit of insanity, my sister talked me (and our hubbies) to sign up for the Walt Disney World half marathon back in April. Like most (if not all) Disney races, the half marathon fills up the first day registration is open.

This race was my first runDisney race and my fifth half marathon. I hadn’t run a race since 2010, and all my previous races were much smaller than this one. The largest race I ran prior to this had less than 4000 runners total; that number included both the full and the half marathon runners. To put this in perspective, the Disney Half Marathon had over 22,000 runners.

The positive, the Expo was extremely well organized. It was at the Wide World of Sports complex. Given the number of people running (with the 5K, the 10K, the Half Marathon and the full Marathon) I expected it to be difficult and long process to check-in. It was really simple and almost no lines. The biggest difficulty was check-in was in one building and our shirt pick-up was in another, but it wasn’t that much of a problem.

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Us at the Expo!

All the Disney merchandise was expensive (as you would expect) but I did get one decal for my car.

Expo sticker

My one Expo purchase!

Our biggest question before race day was, what time do we need to leave our hotel to get to the race? Most blogs/reviews I read talked about people staying on a resort property and taking one of the Disney buses, but we were staying at a resort right off the property (the Radisson I reviewed from a previous trip).

Since we were driving, we wanted to know, what time do we need to leave by? All the Disney information said we needed to give ourselves at least 20 minutes to walk from the parking lot to our corral area (it took closer to 30 minutes) and we didn’t want to get there so late we were disqualified from running.

All the signs at Disney said roads we be closed from 5 – 9 am Saturday and Sunday mornings. We decided we wanted to get there before the roads closed. We left our hotel around 4:30 am and got to the parking lot about 4:45 in the morning. There was traffic, but it wasn’t too bad. My sister and brother-in-law got on the roads after 5 am. They were stuck in traffic longer because of road closures but they did make it to the race on time. The one downside for them was they ran to the corrals so they wouldn’t miss the start. They probably didn’t have to (I’ll get to that), but they were starting to get nervous about making the start time.

The bag check was really simple to do as well. It didn’t take much time and was just as easy to retrieve after the race.

The race official start time was 5:35 am. However, there were 17 corrals. We were automatically assigned to the last one because we did not submit an official race time to qualify for an earlier corral. Starting in the last Corral (P), we didn’t get to cross the starting line until a little over an hour after the official start time of 5:35 am. To put this into perspective, every race before this, I crossed the starting line between 2-5 minutes after the start. Our corral didn’t even start walking towards the start line until about 40 – 45 minutes after the race officially started. So my sister and brother-in-law probably could have walked to the corral and still got there before we started moving towards the starting line. Normally it wouldn’t have been a HUGE deal, we know Disney races are huge, but the temps were in the 40s while we were waiting to start. We got to the corral around 5:15 am, so it was a cold hour-and-a-half wait.

Tiff in Belle costume

This is the pic of me in my costume (Belle). You can see why I was freezing standing around in 44° temps. When we caught up with my sister she gave me her jacket. That was a life safer and I ended up running in it. I decided being warm was more important than my costume.

One cool thing, they had fireworks to start not just the first corral, but every single one.

Unless you’re starting in one of the earliest corrals, this is not a race to run for time. It was very crowded and even with two of us trying to run together, it was difficult to stay together starting from the back. There were parts of the race where the road narrowed so much it was hard to pass anyone. There was one time going underneath Cinderella’s castle that the entire crowd was walking. No one could run past even if they tried.

One downside, since I was using the Runkeeper app on my phone to keep track of our time/distance, I couldn’t use it for pictures too. I’m including some pics my sister and brother-in-law took of the race itself.

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Becky and Pete in front of Cinderella’s Castle!

They had lots of character stops and music playing that went along with the movie the characters are from. The one I most wanted to get a picture of was Capt Jack Sparrow and the pirate ship. Luckily, my sis did a stop there.

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At times when they didn’t have character stops they had DJs playing music or high school bands playing. Even though not much of the route went through the parks, the race route was still entertaining. There was also many people running by in different costumes that was also fun to look at. The most popular I saw were “Frozen” characters, Minnie Mouse, and Snow White, though we saw so many other characters as well. It was fun to see all the different twists on costumes.

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Us after we finished!

Overall we had a fun experience running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. However, with the crowds and the price, I can’t see us doing a Disney race again in the future. Especially not the Goofy and Dopey challenges. 😉

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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.

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