i was really excited that last year’s 10k was this year’s half marathon for the wine and dine festival at epcot. i had a lot of fun last year and was really looking forward to the longer distance (i don’t typically warm up till 4 miles into any race). the one thing i couldn’t get over when i went to register was that the start time for the race was 10pm instead of the typical morning hours most half or full marathons are run. disney decided to hold a 5k the same morning for those not wanting to take the challenge of the longer distance.
packet pickup was a breeze. i decided to drive to the wide world of sports complex instead of taking a bus, just for convenience sake. good call as they only left on the hour and half hour and they didn’t have fast passes. i figured the crowd would still be sparse since it was friday afternoon at 1pm. the expo opened at noon. i was wrong. the parking lot was packed. funny how i’m going to run 13.1 miles but for a split second was mad i was going to have to park 1/2 mile from the entrance. i laughed and grabbed a space.
inside the expo was well organized and lots of cool vendors. i walked in, was directed on where to go. walked up to where my number was listed, 387, and handed the nice lady my driver’s license. she promptly handed me my packet and directed me to the d-tag check point and then to where i was to pickup my race swagg. pretty plain grey short sleeve tech shirt with the words, ‘wine & dine’ on it. i opted to buy a long sleeve shirt with mickey on it to celebrate the weekend (and give disney more of our money). i did see a cool shirt for the half relay that said, ‘i did SOME of it!’ and lol’ed.
transportation to the espn wide world of sports was by host resorts only. for me that was easy as my wife and i are dvc members and our home resort is the beach club, which was listed as a host resort. i hoped i could walk back to the hotel from the finish but could not get anyone to confirm this prior to the race.
buses left the beach club convention center (hard to find in the dark) with no signage what so ever. i pretty much looked for another runner and followed them to the buses (and hoped they knew where they were going because i sure didnt). i left my hotel room at 7:15 as the last bus was supposed to leave at 8 in order to get you to the start by 9.
standing on line i realized a couple of things: for one, i had not pulled the arm band out of my race packet as i had no clue i needed it, nor did i know there was one even in the packet. shame on me for pulling everything out except was was in the envelope. i figured it was just the final instruction sheet which i had already printed prior to arrival. i debated running back up to the room to get it but decided to just wait and see if they had a info tent at drop off to see if i really needed it or not (or maybe they’d have one). later on i would find out about the food/wine coupons i also left in that packet.
the lines for the bus were extremely long, but buses seemed to be coming pretty often. i waited about 30 minutes to board a bus and was on the way to the start. i sat next to a nice guy that looked like santa claus who was going to the start to watch his son-in-law race. i thought that was pretty cool since the race started at 10 and didn’t finish for most people until after midnight especially if you were in corral C or D.
drop off was the biggest mess i have seen at a disney race. i’ve run many races and this was the absolute worst organized of any of the races at disney. it was mass chaos. the field to wait on while we waited for the corrals to open was almost completely full. the entrance to the field was totally swarmed with people who looked like they had no clue where to go. come to find out they were a mix of people on line to drop off race bags and also the 2nd member of the half marathon relay team.
i moved into what i thought was a bag drop off line. the line never moved. people just kept walking around those of us in line and dropped their bag off so i figured what the heck, i’ll do the same. come to find out there was never supposed to be a line for drop off. you were supposed to just walk up, drop your bag, and leave. glad i didn’t wait, i might still be waiting.
after that debacle, i decided to find the information tent. i found a disney information guide and asked him if i needed the arm band. he didn’t think so, but didn’t have a definitive answer, so he guided me to a table with a group of volunteers taking pictures with their disney garb. i was a bit annoyed at first that pictures of themselves seemed more important then helping me as i stood for several minutes without even being acknowledged. finally, i was able to ask about the wrist bands and was told i would need one to get into the exclusive after party. i told them i had forgotten it and they promptly gave me a new one. i offered to take a picture of the three of them so they could all get into the picture and got a look like i thought they had done a bad job taking their own picture. needless to say, i left.
by this time, i wanted to just sit on the curb and wait for the corrals to open. for some reason they decided to make an announcement for corrals instead of just letting you go and sit in them. that would happen 30 minutes before race time. not sure why, but that is how it went down. lots of music, a not-to-funny mc and lots of port-o-potties. i found a curb and sat down one hour before race time. i sat and reflected about my race strategy and how i had hoped to run the race.
at 9:15 i decided it was time to do the pre-race ritual, the port-o-potty. last year’s 10k was a nightmare and the lines so long i did not even get to go (and that was after 40 minutes on line). the lines moved EXTREMELY fast. i might of waited 10 minutes and talked to a lady about the Jeff Galloway run/walk method of running. She was an older women who’s used his method a couple of times and was helping a friend complete her first 1/2 marathon.
at 9:30 i moved into the A corral. i was lucky to of had a good time from a previous 1/2 so i got into the A corral. it was packed. by the time i got into the corral i was at the very back. people were spilled over into the entrance and i saw tons of people with bibb numbers that should not of been in our corral. oh well, the more the merrier. i found a seat of the pavement, pulled out my new ipod nano, and listened to music to get my pumped.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 blast off! 10pm and the race is under way! running down a one lane road with that many people was not the most fun experience. i could not find a way around the slower people and ended up jumping into the grass to try to get around. i was hoping for a 8:30 minute mile the first 2-3 miles where i’d then ‘kick it up a notch’ and start dropping my time to 8, then 7:45 miles. i knew by the end of the 3rd mile heading into animal kingdom that wasn’t going to happen. i could never really manage to get into a groove.
the weather was hot. i was already sweating up a storm and i had only run 2 miles. i already wrung out my headband, so i knew i was in for a long night. the run down osceola parkway into animal kingdom was dark and at times was lighted by only the blue flashing lights from a police car. there was a dj of some sort at one point on the parkway which i thought was cool.
coming into animal kingdom was pretty fun. lots of people outside cheering us on. much better than the few people on the parkway. disney didn’t allow spectators for this race outside of the start/finish areas, so you definitely wouldnt get the burst of adrenaline you get when you do a race with larger crowd support. that made running into ak fun. it was a nice surprise to see some of the bugs/floats from the main street electrical parade in the parking lot. i’m a huge fan of that parade and was taken back to when i was a kid seeing it the first time.
i never realized a) how hilly animal kingdom is and b) how dark it is too. there were lights setup every 200′ish ft, but it still seemed dark and made me slow down my pace. i was glad that i was running with a pack of people at that point as i pretty much followed the dude in front of me. if he would of fell off the mountain by expedition everest, i would of fallen with him that’s how hard it was for me to see. now granted, i wear glasses most of the time or contacts, but i wear neither when i run and never have issues. i had wished i wore my contacts.
running past the tree of life through dinoland and out of the parks was pretty cool. i know i saw some characters along the route, but i don’t remember which ones. i was trying to PR so i didnt have time to stop for pictures. i thought it odd how wet the pavement through the park was but attempted to keep up my pace. as soon as you came out of dinoland you end up in the parking lot running back towards the parkway. this is where the relay team members exchanged running positions. they split you about a football length from the relay point into singles vs relays as they went off in their own direction.
coming back out onto the parkway i dreaded what was going to happen next. a 3 mile run back down the parkway to then re-loop around to then be on the last leg of the marathon course. flashing blue lights made me want to toss my cookies. i never have had any issues with motion sickness, but i really did think i was going to throw up looking at those cop car lights. i’m glad i wasnt the only one as checking race reports on facebook the next day, lots of people had the same issue (hint, hint, disney).
running up the bridges and the on ramps really wore my legs out as i knew they would. the twisty on/off ramps make for a fun time especially late in a race but i was able to keep at a 8:30 mile pace despite the cramping that my stomach started doing after taking a gel at mile 6.
by the time i made it to mile 10, i was in full blown pain from the stomach cramping. i felt like i was being stabbed in the stomach with a knife. i forgot to mention that i must of had eaten something that did not agree with my stomach the night before at the food and wine festival as my stomach kept me in the bathroom pretty much all day on saturday.
the run through hollywood studios was my favorite part of the run even though it seemed like we ran every inch of the park. at one point my face was on the jumbo tron and the next i was running down broadway in ny. the osborne family christmas lights must already be under preparation as the entire street scene was bottom to top in lights. it was the coolest part of the run.
i was glad that i had decided to run with my water belt as the water stations were narrow and very wet with fluids on the ground. i felt sorry knowing that later on this was going to be a disaster for the slower runners. and oh yeah, who the heck thought it was a good idea to give out clif shot blocks? i could just imagine how many people ended up with those things on the bottoms of their shoes (hint, hint again disney). where were the mini-candy bars you give out during the marathon? much better tasting. i digress.
i was looking forward to coming out of hollywood studios and running the last 2 miles into epcot. my wife and mother-in-law were waiting to see me run by the beach club and i had kept them waiting 10 minutes longer than i thought i would. the crowd support was much better running the path from hollywood studios to boardwalk and than continuing past boardwalk into epcot.
i was looking for my wife (and mother-in-law) on the same side of the path as the hotel and had moved over to that side of the path. luckily i spotted my father-in-law in a quick glance as they were on the opposite side of the street. apparently they were forced to the other side of the street by race organizers before the elites ran by even though others now stood.
pushing up the hill the last .2 miles seemed effortless. the crowds cheering your bibb name and the over all excitement was chilling. i had no idea where i was in the 10k+ that was supposed to run the race. i hadn’t hit my goal time of 1:44, but i crossed in a respectable 1:52. i was thankful to run another day.
i thought it was odd that we were not greeted by the volunt-ears with our race medals. we were directed past medical tents, given a bag of food (a banana, poweraid, water, granola bar and a brownie clif mini-bar) and then given medals (disney medals flat out rock; it was spaceship earth with food, wine and runners shoes on the bottom) before then being moved into the picture taking area. after pictures you were moved into a building for bag pick up.
the people were so clueless and rude inside that building. i heard so many complaints and there were not even that many people inside the tent. i had to ask 3 people to find my bag after waiting on line for 5 minutes. i thought to myself, this is going to be a HUGE nightmare once the masses start arriving. i heard it was. people sick because of the smell.
after picking up your race bag, you were brought into the back entrance to epcot. i saw nothing but wall-to-wall people. i had no clue where to go or even where i was at first. they basically brought you into the world showcase by england. all i wanted was a drink and to walk the short walk back to the hotel. i stopped and asked if i could indeed walk back and again no one could help me. they said buses typically picked up people from the front of epcot so they figured i’d have to do that. i decided to tempt fate and try the back exit.
as i walked to the exit of the international gateway, i was approached by a guy with a platter with coke, diet coke, sprite and a tip jar. he asked if i wanted a drink. i said sure. he then asked for a drink coupon. i had no clue what he was talking about. later on when i looked in that packet, i found 1 drink coupon and 1 food coupon. wow, for the entrance fee to the race i had 1 of each? none the less, i didn’t get a drink and talked a few minutes about the race with him. i had no clue how the food worked but wasn’t interested at that point with having to buy my food nor wait in line with all these people.
i’m not sure how people found their love ones after the race. i was glad i hadn’t opted for a ticket for my wife. i probably would of found her but when it really got crowded i’m not sure how easy that would be. i wondered how long runners would have to wait in line with all these people for food if they finished later in the morning. heck, it was already midnight and the park was only open till 3. i thought some of the rides were going to be open too, but they were not.
i walked back to the hotel and was forced to show my wrist band when i entered the area by the bleechers for the people that paid the big bucks for the finish line party. all-in-all it was a fun race. i definitely think there are a ton of kinks that need to be worked out before next year’s race (water station sizing, lighting issues, shot bloc central, bag pick-up, crowds of people that shouldn’t of been part of the “exclusive” party, etc).
not sure i’ll be back for this one next year but i’ll definitely be running the marathon in january. chicago may be calling my name for a re-match (and a shot at a bq) if i don’t get into ny.
if you’d like to see the profile information for the course, here’s what my garmin 310xt shows: