It’s finally here!! 13.1 miles of pounding the pavement with perhaps a little bit of pixie dust following in our wake.
Excitement and energy is bursting from the seams. Sure, the clock went off at – yep – 2:45 a.m., but sis and I hardly even notice. We bounce out of bed, already tackling our race morning ritual of makeup, donning costumes and swallowing down a quick breakfast.
The entire house is up and ready to go in record time. We head downstairs to the car and even pass a few other runners dressed in costumes. This is going to be another great race!
I am a little bit nervous about driving to the race this morning, since this is by far the busiest of all races. I, however, never braced myself for the traffic we were about to encounter. Bottle-neck is an understatement.
I begin watching the clock, feeling my blood pressure go up with every minute that ticks by, watching the car not move an inch. Maybe we should have left an hour earlier. Maybe we should have stayed on Disney property and taken their transportation after all! If we miss our corral, we will be ushered into the very last corral…. a thought that makes my stomach turn.
But, by nothing more than pure miracle, we finally make it to the runner drop off area. In fact, we may even have a spare few minutes to snap a couple pictures! We don’t have much time to waste, though. We take some pictures, wave goodbye to the grandmas and little P, and head off in the direction of the corrals.
For those of you who have never attempted this race, the walk to the corral from the runner drop off area is a good 15 minutes. Give yourself plenty of time when taking into consideration what time to arrive.
After falling in line with the rest of the runners, we finally make it to our corral. As we were heading there, we heard an announcement over the loud speaker that the race had been delayed because of traffic issues. I’m not exactly sure what the traffic issues were, but I was so thankful we had a few extra minutes to spare!
As our corral finally makes it to the starting line, we take off, thrilled to finally stretch our legs. In the beginning, the race is pretty bottle-necked. There are tons and tons of runners, all starting out with a bang, all running at their own paces. Eventually, the bottle-necking does thin out for a bit.
Sis and I fall into a good rhythm and we’re trudging along at a good pace. We told the grandmas the best place to watch us run by is at the Polynesian, which is around the 7 mile mark and also plenty out of the way of too many spectators. But, they wanted to find us at the castle. They were there early and had plenty of time. By our calculations, they would be able to see us at the castle and make it back in time to watch us cross the finish line. If I could insert an emoji here, it would be the laughing/crying face. Because we never took into consideration the fact that getting from the castle to the finish line would be somewhat of a joke. In fact, mom was amazed at how many people were flooding the monorail! But, thank goodness for cell phones. They new exactly where we were and managed to snag a quick video as we passed them on Main Street!
After coming through the castle and hitting the Polynesian Resort, we knew it was reaching the portion of the race that was our least favorite. At this point, you’re beginning to fatigue a bit and the view gets, well, kind of boring. Luckily, sis and I know just what to do to keep each other entertained. For some reason, these two miles seem to be the longest of the entire race. And then, just up ahead, is our favorite hill. At the top of this hill, we know we are almost there! Mile 11.
By this point, our energy comes back and we know we’ve got this. We start coming back into more populated areas with spectators and this gives us the kick we need. It’s a blast to watch the spectators cheer for their runners and check out the hilarious signs they’ve made. And then, I hear it. Yep, it’s Gospel music. It’s a beautiful sound that tells me I have finally reached the end. Mile 13 is just around the corner where this church choir is standing at the bend in the road, singing their hearts out to music that reminds me of the soundtrack from Hercules.
As we cross the finish line, we are exhausted but exhilarated. Another AMAZING half is in the books!
Fortunately, our fantastic weekend was not coming to an end quite yet. We still had another full day at Disney where the Magic Kingdom was calling our name.
Half-marathon Race tips
Parking. Oh Em Gee. I should probably leave it at that, but I will elaborate. Take Disney transportation if you can. Or, if it’s not an option, leave early. And I mean EARLY. Parking for the half marathon is bad. Sure, leaving post-race isn’t much of a hassle, but the lines to get to corral if driving on your own are lengthy.
Patience. I probably should put this race tip at the very top of the list for each of these legs of the race. Please, remember everyone is here to have a great time. Be patient and be kind to each other. I promise, everyone will make it to the finish line.
Character pics. If you just have to get your pic taken with a character along the route, my suggestion would be to pick one or two. The lines are INCREDIBLY LONG. Disney does an amazing job of keeping it flowing, but this will certainly cut into your finish time – if that’s something that’s important to you.
Have fun! Because isn’t that what Disney is all about?!
Hotels near the race site
Disney sponsored hotels: Okay, there is much to be said for this so I will break this up into a few different sections.
Luckily, for this particular race, all Disney hotels are now available with Disney race transportation! There is so much to say for staying on Disney property and the race transportation is a definite plus, especially when you’re talking about a 4:30 a.m. drive-time.
You will also see tons of other participants who are eagerly awaiting the races. This is a definite energy that you need this early in the morning. But….this also means longer lines to use Disney transportation. The more budget-friendly the hotel, the more crowded the lines can be.
You can decorate your hotel room window. This is so much fun! We got a little crazy creative here, but that’s half the fun. It’s a blast to check out how many other runners are staying right alongside you.
When we have stayed on Disney property, we usually choose the budget-friendly hotels. Warning – so do a lot of other runners. These budget hotels fill up fast! So don’t wait too long to make your reservation.
Staying off Disney property. If you decide to rent a condo, especially with a large group, this is the way to go. We have used VRBO and Trip Advisor to rent at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort – which is technically on Disney property, but not a Disney sponsored hotel. This is a fabulous resort, just a couple miles from the Disney entrance. However, if you stay here, you will have to drive yourself on race day.
There are also multiple relatively inexpensive hotels in the area. Most of these hotels do offer shuttles to Disney AFTER the race. I have heard rumor that some even offer transportation on race day to the corrals. Make sure to verify this with your particular hotel, though.