January 11, 2014. 5:30am 60 ish degrees, super humid! Forgot my Garmin.
Parking / Transportation: Free parking available at Epcot in lot near start. Alarm set for 2:15 am to get a decent spot. We also enjoyed a peanut butter english muffin and coffee. If you were staying on Disney property a shuttle bus was available. After parking, needed to go through security to get in. Bomb dogs were doing their jobs.
The pre-race set up was different from the 5k/10k as they needed to shuttle more runners. Bag check was open, and then encouraged to “hurry up & wait” in a holding area. Then with about an hour or so, we were allowed to make the trek to our corrals. Near the corrals were lots of port-a-potties. The music playing from the DJ was heard all over the starting area. (If I ever hear the “cha cha slide” again, it will be too soon.)
Approx 25,000 runners.
Start: Corral start, lettered A through P. Assigned bibs based on submitted times. I was in Corral H, Josh in C. Could start in your assigned corral or a lower letter. Many TV screens set up, so runners in the back could see the announcements coming from the starting stage. However the screens were few and far between, hard to see from my corral. After the National Anthem, some encouraging words from Chris Powell & Donald Duck, the first corral was off, on time, with a fireworks salute. My corral was about a half hour after the first.
Course: The sun had yet to rise, so it was still dark, but the course was never difficult to navigate. (Only place to bring a light would be to use a port-a-pottie) This race was crowded, even though the corrals helped split up people it was still a slow start. With another race yet to go, I wasn’t in a hurry. Eventually when the sun was up, it was overcast.
The course started on the back roads around Disney. Eventually leading us to the Magic Kingdom. The best part of the race is the right turn on Main St in MK. There are thousands of spectators lining the course, the buildings are lined in lights and the castle is a glow in the distance. After leaving the high from running through the MK and under the castle, there is a lot of running on the back roads, the over passes provided the only hills. There were Dj’s, fire trucks, characters, golf courses, more spectators, in these areas. Eventually the course brought us to Epcot, and around Spaceship Earth to pass the choir and then finish. This race is mostly complete before the parks open.
There were plenty of water and lemon-lime Powerade stops, always in paper cups and each drink was in a different patterned cup. No food stops. Volunteers made sure you knew which beverage they had. One of the hazards was caused from the cup debris, the others were the speed bumps, tight turns and narrow paths (allowing for bumping into others). All paved surfaces, no pot holes or cracks in the pavement to trip over. Did have to run in the grass areas where it was crowded. Always felt safe. Each mile was marked with a character banner and a clock.
Spectators were plenty in the areas they could access. Lots of bands with dancers and cheerleaders. High fives for everyone.
Character stops: I can not remember the order in which the characters were stationed on this course. There were plenty available for photos. Did not encounter any problems with a character taking a break. The lines got shorter the further they were stationed on the course. In reality, a long wait could have been 5 minutes. The worst part about the lines were the group photos, then each one needed an individual photo. The character handlers were all friendly and happy to take a photo with my phone. Some of the characters were in the same spots as the year before.
Finish: Clearly marked with a banner and clock. Medals placed around your neck. Table for water and Powerade. Dopey participants were directed in one direction. Received 3rd wrist band. Proceeded to get finishers photo, then on to post race snack box. (banana, corn chips, processed cheese dip, rice cake snack, skittles, Clif bar and Craisins)
I met up with Josh. Decided to pass on the post race character photos. The Run Disney official merchandise tent was open. Concessions available, beer & champagne. The DJ was still pumping music.
Overall: relatively flat course, crowded, lots of fun!
Personal: I struggled with the humidity, walked more than I wanted, but since I still had a race to go, I didn’t push it. Still enjoyed the course and posing with characters.