Racing Disney: Dopey Day 3 The Half Marathon

Hey there Main Streeters! This week, Catie is back to tell us about the third race in her Dopey three-peat! Hope you enjoy!

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The morning of the half started out slightly different than our other races. On Friday, Mom and I were joined by one of our running friends who was joining us for the full. Since she was not participating in the half, we did our best to make sure we got pulled together quickly and quietly in the room so we wouldn’t disturb her while she slept.

IMG_8896We quietly got dressed by flashlight, made sure our costumes were in order and then headed for the bus stop. We had a very short wait for the bus to make an appearance to take us over to the start line. We hopped on the bus at 3:45 knowing we had allowed plenty of time to prep for the race once we arrived at the race retreat. However, we were not anticipating the excruciatingly slow and long wait at bag check. I think their main problem was that they quickly funneled down the runners and spectators from about 10-12 people across to only 5. It had a lot of people panicked! Yet, I’m grateful that they are taking all precautions to ensure the safety of the runners and as such, the possibility of allowing the event to continue in the future.
Bag check itself was super quick and efficient. We plopped the bag down for it to be inspected and then made our way through to the race retreat. Quick thing to note, your running belt also counts as a bag and must be inspected when you enter the pre-race area.
We arrived at the race retreat around 440. We love this perk as it provides a private bag check and private bathrooms! It also has a selection of pre-run food items for runners and the tent itself is only open to runners before the race starts. Once the race has begun, ChEAR squad members have access to it during the race and it provides real time video of the finish line area to watch your runner cross!
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After we felt like we were all set, we walked out of the race retreat tent at 4:55am to begin the walk to the start area. If you aren’t familiar with races at Disney, then you should know that the pre-race staging area is about a one-mile walk from the corrals and start line. Mom and I made our way through the crowd and gave our good luck hugs and split off for our own corrals.
I personally wasn’t setting any time goals for this race as I knew I still had the marathon the next day and wanted to conserve energy for it. I was hoping to run nice even splits, take lots of pictures, and soak up the experience. Once I was settled in my corral I kept going over this game plan in my head so I wouldn’t get too excited and take off like a jackrabbit when I heard “Runners, set, go!” I plugged my headphones in and got in the zone.
Once I did hear those magical words and saw some amazing fireworks, I took off at a nice easy pace and was able to converse and even sing along with a few other runners on the route. As we made our way towards Magic Kingdom from Epcot, I started planning on what pictures I wanted to snag. About 3 miles in, I realized I hadn’t stopped for any yet and decided it was time for my first stop. At this point, even though it was cool I could tell it was quite humid. I continued on through the parking lots at the ticket and transportation center stopping for pictures along the way. I was super excited to see Oogie Boogie and snapped a cute photo with him!
Running through the Ticket and Transportation Center is the first boost of energy you get after the start. There is great crowd support and it occurs at mile 4. There are spectators out with crazy, creative signs, lots of high fives, and all the cheering makes you feel like a rock star!
Once you pass by the monorail station you continue around the 7 Seas Lagoon and even run under water and up by the Contemporary. Here there was a pretty cool group of Team in Training spectators and a few people from the resort out cheering for the family members.
Next, comes my favorite part of the race: Magic Kingdom. You enter Magic Kingdom between Tony’s and the Hattery. You get a huge surge of energy from the crowd and the majestic music they play while running down Main Street. This race is particularly beautiful as the Christmas decorations are still up and in my case, it was still dark and the icicle lights were twinkling on Cinderella’s Castle! It was absolutely gorgeous!
After racing down Main Street you run through Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and then through the Castle! There are lots of characters to snag a picture with during this portion of the run – needless to say, it was my slowest split times of the race! On the Main Street side of the Castle I stopped for my picture. Marathonfoto has quite a few photographers lined up to snap photos of runners in front of the Castle. You run over to an “X” and then run right back onto the course and keep on trucking. Next you run through Liberty Square towards Frontierland and then out through a backstage area.

IMG_8895In the backstage area they have a photo op with the Festival of Fantasy float. For the half, it was the Neverland float complete with Hook, Smee, and the Lost Boys! After that you are at a water stop and at the 10K mark! They sure do pack a lot of fun and action into the first half of this race!
The next portion is running on the highway from Magic Kingdom to Epcot. At mile 7 they had a DJ who gleefully share to all the runners around me that the wheelchair winner had already crossed the line and was enjoying his victory while we still had 6 miles to go! It’s truly incredible how fast those wheelchair athletes are! runDisney does their best to keep you entertained these miles as well – it may not be park time but they have fun signs you can read alongside the road with trivia and inspirational quotes as well as characters spaced out. When you come to the golf course they have out a Mickey golf cart with characters dressed up to play the game. In front of the Grand Floridian you often find Mary Poppins, Bert, and a penguin or two. Plus, since it’s easy to get to the Grand Floridian via monorail there is quite a large crowd in this area as well.
Mile 8-9 you get a ClifShot to help fuel you up the “big hill” of the race, the on ramp at mile 10. I personally carry a lot of fuel on me during a run; however, I supplement my own fuel with their ClifShot at this point. This is the ramp you take that gets you headed back towards Epcot. After this climb you enjoy some nice rolling hills and at mile 11.5 you make the last final climb up the bus exit from Epcot to enter the park area. Mile 12 is at the bottom of this hill and they have a DJ there to help provide a small boost as you head into the park. There is often quite a large crowd gathered around the bus area to provide some energy as well! You go backstage and then head through the park. They deceptively send you back towards World Showcase and have you loop around to head back towards Spaceship Earth and the finish line.
As you leave Epcot out a side backstage area they have a Gospel choir to help sing you home! You round another corner to see mile 13 and you can hear the crowd and the announcers at the finish line! I personally feed off this energy and found myself getting my kick. I raced it home and crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face! Since I was able to have such a nice kick to the finish line I knew my race plan had gone smoothly and I would have more than enough energy to finish the marathon the following day!

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Thanks for that, Catie! Next week she will finish her Dopey tale with the magical miles of the full marathon!!!

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TMSM is very excited to publish the “Racing Disney” runDisney series by Addie Clark, Catie Neal and Tali McPike. Please keep an eye out for more of their amazing and informative articles! If you missed of the articles in this series make sure you check them athttp://www.themainstreetmouse.com/tag/racing-disney/
If you are planning on running in a runDisney event and have questions, or have participated and want to talk about your experiences make sure you visit our runDisney Forum at http://goo.gl/RLB5ka

Author: Michele

Michele Atwood is the Owner/Editor of The Main Street Mouse and it’s subsidiaries and author of the book “Moving to Main Street U.S.A.” Michele also contributes Disney news to the Joe Kelley Morning Show on 96.5 WDBO in Orlando. She and her family made the move from Michigan to the Orlando area to pursue their Disney dreams. Michele is a life long Disney fan, and has two sons who have followed suit, each going on their first Disney trip before their first birthday’s. Part of the goal Michele has for The Main Street Mouse is not only to keep members informed, but to create somewhat of a Disney Family by relating to others through personal experiences and opinions. Also, Michele is making it a priority to share stories of inspiration and hope to other Disney Fans in an effort to share the Magic and hopefully make a difference in the lives of others.

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