Well it's been almost two weeks since we've been back. I guess it's finally time that I blogged about it. I think once Dani heard about the Run Disney races, there was little chance that we would not be doing them. Right away we decided to take part in the 2013 Disney World Half Marathon, which coincidentally was the 20th anniversary of the race. This race part of an entire marathon weekend which consisted of a 5k on Friday morning, the half marathon on Saturday morning and a full marathon Sunday morning. Those that had lost their mind could compete in the "Goofy Challenge", which was doing both the half and the full marathons on adjacent days.
So Dani, her parents, and myself went down for a long weekend to enjoy the race and some fun-filled days at the various Disney parks. We wound up staying at one of the Disney "budget" resorts - Caribbean Beach resort. It's not a terribly luxurious place, much more suited for families. But it was still pretty fun. We had this pirate themed room which I thought was pretty awesome. And it was nice that there was shuttles right outside the door that would take you to almost any of the Disney properties.
We landed in Orlando late Thursday afternoon. After we finally got checked in pretty much all we had time for was to head over to Downtown Disney for some dinner. Friday morning we were up early to go to the race expo and get our race bibs before getting to Hollywood Studios. (Formerly MGM Studios for those of you, like myself, have not been in many years) This is my favorite park. It has the best rides - Aerosmith Rockin' Coaster and Tower of Terror - and some of the best attractions - Star Tours, Toy Story, and the Muppets. But I think the thing that really sealed the deal for me was after walking out of the Muppet 3D show we ran smack into Phineas and Pherb. Of course we had to stop and get our pictures taken!
After taking in a late afternoon dinner we went to be early. By early I mean 7pm. Our alarms were set for 2:30 am so that we would be ready to jump on the first 3am shuttle bus to the race start. We were dropped off at the race festivities area which was in the Epcot parking lot. About 4am we all took a short 20 minutes walk over to the start line. It was a huge race so there were tons of corrals. And as you would imagine there was a ton of pre-race stars, interviews, and eventually fireworks. The race itself had its highs and lows. The course took us down the highway around the front entrance to Magic Kingdom, and then into a back lot entrance into the park. We ran through several of the "towns", through the castle and back out another side door. The rest of the race was largely spent running along back roads near some of the resorts, then on the highway, and eventually the last mile and a half was into the front of Epcot, around the fountain and back out the entrance to finish in the parking lot.
Overall the race was a good experience. I was disappointed that we had very little park time. But they did a good job of having characters and things to look at all over the course. Unfortunately because of my slower speed and corral position towards the back, the lines for photos at these characters were 20-30 people deep. I never felt like I had time to stop. The other issue was that it was unseasonably hot. The first half of the race was in the dark with temps in the low 60s. By the time I finished though, it was sunny in the mid-upper 70s and 80% humidity. With no shade I thought I was going to die. After three hours and some change I finally crossed the finish line and got this epic Donald Duck medal.
The rest of that day was spent at Magic Kingdom including an awesome character dinner with Pooh, Tiger, Piglet and Eeyore. Sunday we enjoyed Epcot, and Monday we took in Animal Kingdom before our evening flight back to Boston. It was a fantastic trip and there is already talk of going back in 2015. Dani wants to run the Goofy Challenge on it's 10 year anniversary. I think I'll let her do that one on her own! There's a few more selected pictures below, and can see the full picture set here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/supertorio/sets/72157632557539200/