The mammoth WDW Marathon 2016 Weekend Recap – Part 1

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And so the mammoth WDW Weekend recap begins. I was going to lay it out thick and fast in one post but it really got way too big…..

It all started with one lightbulb moment – This crazy idea was initially thought of around Christmastime in 2014, perhaps maybe I would go along to runDisney’s biggest running weekend and maybe, I’d attempt to run a marathon – something that I’d previously said I’d never do. I might add here that I was not running – I was actually off injured as it was discovered I had stress reactions all down my legs. So since I was looking at the marathon, and flying all the way from Australia I may as well just go whole hog and enter the Dopey Challenge right??

And so the journey begins…..

I signed up in April and it seemed like a crazy amount of time away. Then I organised setting up running at Star Wars Half the next weekend – I had to fly through LA anyway to get home so why not go Coast to Coast??

After an amazing training period (which I highly recommend – get someone’s guidance to help you on your way) January sort of happened and I faced the reality of what was going to go on..

I was super thrilled to get to WDW, I arrived a couple of days prior to the expo, just to get used to the time difference and also to hit Magic Kingdom (and the fireworks) since I assumed this would be the biggest walking day and wanted to get it done prior to having a 3am wakeup!

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Expo Day – So I’ve only ever attended the Disneyland Expo which is much, much smaller. I wasn’t prepared for the herding (as best described) that is at WDW. While all the Dopey Challenge stuff is centred in one location, my family was also running the 5K & 10K which meant heading off to two other buildings in order to get all the bibs and shirts. I found the queues were quite manageable for bib pickup and photo (which you still need to get for the challenges) however the shirt/gear pickup was a bit manic. Luckily the volunteers were on it and telling people to walk over to the XXL and XL spots where we could pick up any size.

The range of expo exhibitors were great – the usual favourites like Sparkly Soul, Clif Bar & Sparkle Athletic were there; but also other brands like Rinse Bath & Body (which I was actually looking forward to visiting in EPCOT) and a much bigger showing from Fit 2 Run (but you can also visit the store in Disney Springs). The race merchandise had 2 locations and I found that the one where the Dopey bib pickup was crazy – and out of a lot of stock. The location within the main expo building seemed a lot bigger and less crazy!!

What I liked about Disneyland’s expo is that you can walk in and out, and if you want to peruse days later it’s quite easy to go back. At WDW the Expo is at World Wide of Sports so you need to catch a bus, I feel that it is a massive effort to get there – cutting in on park time due to travel – you would tend to only visit once unless you really needed to go again.

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5K (AKA: Ohhh it’s a novelty to get up at 3am!) – So it actually dawned on my that I had to run, not only that but also get up for the next 3 mornings. It was cold (given that it is Summer in AU) so GASP I wore my 10K LS underneath my costume. Since this was my family’s first Disney run we dressed up as Mouseketeers, which was a lot of fun. We actually walked to the front of Port Orleans Riverside to catch the bus – I didn’t learn that the buses actually stopped at all resort stops until the Half day. And it was real quick to the race staging area.

While at Disneyland the 5K takes in Disneyland and California Adventure, the 5K at WDW only uses EPCOT – I guess it’s an example of how big WDW is.

We were lucky to all be in the same corral, and I was certain to stick to a pace time of 7:30-7:40 a km in order to make sure I was going to survive the remaining 3 days. As the fireworks set off our corral I was happy to be out and running. So many months had lead up to this!!!

One thing that I love about the first time running anywhere is how quick the race goes when you don’t know where you’re going!! It was so much fun running around the world dancing and singing along to the soundtrack. We only stopped for 1 photo stop (Stitch) but we did pose along World Showcase with Spaceship Earth in the background. I was hoping that Remy from Ratatouille was making an appearance in France but was disappointed that it was Marie.

Up through the rest of EPCOT was a breeze, and onwards to the finish line! That was 1 race done!!

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10K (AKA: It rained…….. the whole time) – So the second day brought another 3am wakeup (YAY!) and rain, and more rain. Now I’m not one to worry about rain, I’ve ran in rain before (and I’m thankful that I powered through those training sessions in crazy rain to prepare me for this) but it was raining from the minute we walked out the door to when we were back in the room post-race. I must admit, it got a little miserable.

The 10K is also completely in EPCOT but includes a bit of highway running at the beginning. We passed spots where we saw that characters were meant to be (including Darkwing Duck who wasn’t out again that weekend *sigh*) but it was too wet. I had seen that the later corrals got some of these characters so that’s one of the benefits of starting later!!  We posed for the Incredibles spot so that we could say that we at least had a pic from the 10K. As you can see in the pic – there’s a gigantic puddle where my sister is standing.

My gameplan was the same, run to a pace time which was comfortable and be able to back up for the business end of Dopey in the next couple of days. I ran with my sister for this one, Mum powered up ahead and Dad was injured so walked the entire thing. We did it comfortably and wanted to get as many pics as we could. As we round to France I saw what I considered the “holy grail” of character pics……. it was REMY and Emile!! Yes!!! There was a bit of a queue but I didn’t care – this was the ONE character that I had to stop for.

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Once we hit the Boardwalk it was new territory! It was definitely slippery and got even worse when the rain hit hard! We made a stop for Mike & Sulley (in Monsters U gear) but as we got to the front they left. After about a couple of minutes wait Mike came back out and we were back on our way!

We ended up crossing and made our way through the finishers chute – clutching our mylar blankets like they were made of gold! Post-run I’ve never been so glad to get inside and warm, oh and enjoying the cheese and tortilla chips in the runDisney food box!

Stay tuned for part 2 of the mammoth WDW Marathon 2016 Weekend Recap which features the big 2 – the half & the marathon. You can also read about my joy in becoming a marathoner here.

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