My alarm went off at 3:15am, I headed to the bus around 3:45 and hopped right on. The staging area outside of the corrals were identical to the 5k yesterday, with a DJ stage and some character picture setups. I did not pass to see which characters were out, as I left a little later than anticipated. The corrals opened up and I made my way to the front of corral E (there were 6 corrals A-F.) Due to the volume and traffic around the resort, RunDisney expects runners at their corral at least 1 hour prior to the race start, so it’s a lot of waiting. The race started on time at 5:30am, and the waves of runners began.
The course started in the Epcot parking lot, just as the 5K did but instead of turning right to run down a backstage road the course took a left onto the main highway – Epcot Center Drive. I had not even run half a mile before I rolled my left ankle and nearly fell. I managed to stay upright and keep running, and I had no idea what had caused the inversion. I kept running, but the incident absolutely slowed me down until a little after 1.5 miles. The first 2 miles of any race are always the hardest for me; my legs are stiff and aching then the discomfort eases and it’s “coast mode” after mile 2. Another challenge during this particular stretch is how the course narrows drastically. Between mile 0.5 and 1.5 the course narrowed from 4 lanes to 1 lane, with a U-turn around to go over a 1 to 1.5 lane overpass. Most of the runners were forced to walk this stretch, whether they wanted to or not – one of the cons of the Disneyworld course as this also happens on the half marathon. The course did open back up to a 4 lane roadway, which was nice for the mile and half it lasted before we took a road exit, which narrowed back to one lane and banked slightly (which did not feel that great for my ankle.) We were headed toward the backlot of Epcot at this point, another slow point since the course had narrowed to 1 lane again with a small shoulder after the exit, this was also the 5K mark.
Disney’s interactive runner tracking was on point today, as soon as I crossed the 5K mat I received the text notification of my progress. The course actually met up at the same place the 5K entered the backstage area of Epcot. The course ran under Test Track and entered the World Showcase in Mexico. The volunteers were wonderful, and the photographers were plentiful. The course followed the same route as the 5K up until the International Gateway. There were some rare characters on the course this morning that you can’t find in the parks. Stationed on the course today were Dopey, Geppetto and Pinocchio, Marie from Aristocats, Princess Minnie, and Genie in his vacation clothing and Goofy hat. At the International Gateway the course continued onto the Disney Boardwalk – there was a slight fog and the sun was starting to rise, making a beautiful sight. We ran around the entire Boardwalk area, there were a ton of spectators and hotel residents on their balconies to cheer on the runners.
The course returned to the International Gateway area where I noticed an extremely large line, this usually indicates a character stop of great importance. Princess Minnie was on the course for pictures, I took a break to stop to take a picture of Minnie and the line for her rather than standing in it myself for a shot. It is very enticing to stop at the picture lines during RunDisney races, but as a disclaimer the timed races do have “sweepers” that will pick you up if you fall behind the required 16:00 minute per mile requirement. The course entered another backstage area before entering the World Showcase again in England. The runners ran through the remaining countries and back into Future World, where the course went under Spaceship Earth, around the fountain and out the opposite side of Spaceship Earth. The runners then exited back into the parking lot, toward the finish line!
I stopped my Garmin Vivoactive, grabbed my finisher medal as well as a few bottles of water and headed back to the bus. Overall, my experience was not bad for being under-trained. I made a few stops on the course, walking most of the miles and the mild injury to my ankle hindered my pace. My plan for the 5K and 10K was to take it easy while going all out for the Half Marathon, and now that my ankle is slightly swollen I took the rest of the afternoon easy while icing the area. Here’s to one more 3AM wake up call!
9.3 miles down – 13.1 miles to go!!