So this is an interesting recap…the half marathon that wasn’t a half marathon!
Before the Race
With a scheduled 10pm start, Jason and I spent much of the afternoon of race day resting in our room. We grabbed a snack around 5pm and got ready to get on a bus for 7:15pm.
We had been keeping an eye on the weather all day hoping that by some chance the heat and humidity would drop a little, but no such luck – it was STICKY out! While we were on the bus we saw some lightning in the distance, but the radar didn’t look like we’d be seeing any rain (personally I was hoping for rain to cool stuff down!).
We got to the field at ESPN Wide World of Sports and met up with some friends to wait until the start.
If you’ve been reading Live, Run, Grow for awhile, you probably know that my friend Daniel and I sort of have a friendly race rivalry – somehow even though we’d never actually be racing, his race times would ALWAYS be 1 second faster than mine! We started using the hashtag #BeatDan a few years ago, and for this race I decided to take it to the next level…
(Haha, I totally crack myself up!)
Before the start, I kept in touch with Kellie and was able to go find her and her crew of Mouseketeers!
With lightning still visible in the distance and the occasional sprinkle, they had been making announcements about keeping an eye on the weather.
Around 9:15pm we all walked over to drop our bags off at the bag check and right as we were about to hand them over an announcement was made that a storm was coming and we needed to evacuate the field!
Fortunately, with the start being at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, there were plenty of places to shelter thousands of runners, so we began a slow walk from the fields up to the stadium area.
My group ended up in the HP Field House, where we entertained ourselves by playing Heads Up!
It was a little awkward sitting there not really knowing what was going on – were we going to run? were we not? – but runDisney did their best to keep the runners informed with announcements.
Finally after about an hour an announcement was made that we were cleared to head back outside to run!
Unfortunately, due to some weather still in the area, the course would be shortened, so we wouldn’t actually be running a half marathon – we’d eventually find out that the entire out and back to Animal Kingdom was being cut out so the course would end up being around 6.7 miles.
I had mixed feelings about the run being shortened.
I understand that the decision needed to be made with the participants safety as the priority and to be honest with the brutal heat and humidity and having just sat around playing Heads Up for an hour, a shorter run didn’t sound all that bad…
…on the other hand, I was there to run a half marathon!
I’ve run half marathons before though, I honestly felt the worst for people who were supposed to be running their first half marathon that night (or those whose first runDisney experience this was!).
The Race (Finally!)
We eventually made it to our corrals and around 11pm – an hour later than planned – we were off and FINALLY running!
The first mile of the course was the same as it would have been, but shortly after that where we normally would have gone straight to head out towards Animal Kingdom, we took a sharp right and instead headed towards Hollywood Studios.
It was a little confusing because the original mile markers were still up, so shortly after mile 1 we hit mile 8, and there on the hill were the green army men, so of course I dropped for my traditional pushups!
I personally never run Disney races for time, but I still was trying to #BeatDan, so since it was a shortened race we decided to run a little harder than we probably would have for a half, but I still wanted to stop for some pictures!
We found Lilo & Stitch without a line…
…and then in Hollywood Studios saw Woody & Buzz! There was a bit of a line, but we decided to wait anyways…
…and while we were waiting Daniel and Tana (who we had lost a little earlier) blew by us! We had some catching up to do!
We kept going through Hollywood Studios and we spotted them in line for a picture with the Incredibles – we tried to sneak by without them seeing us, but Tana caught us at the last second!
We ran through the Osborne Lights, stopped for a quick picture and off we went!
As we exited the studios, suddenly right next to us were Daniel and Tana again – those two are sneaky!
For the last couple of miles from Hollywood Studios, along the Boardwalk and through Epcot we kept leap frogging each other – it was quite the race!
Unfortunately as we entered Epcot we saw a runner take a bad fall and hit their head. It was clear he was unconscious so a few of us ran over, but another runner who had gotten to him right before me waved us on and said he had it. There was also a cast member and a police officer nearby who were on top of calling for help, so rather than add to the confusion once we knew the runner was going to be taken care of we kept going. (We don’t know what happened to him, so hoping he is ok!)
We ran through Epcot, I saw Tana’s Dad, waved and yelled, “they’re right behind me!”, and that was the last I saw of Daniel and Tana. I’m not sure if they stopped to see Tana’s Dad, but I kept looking over my shoulder expecting Daniel to blow by me on the way to the finish, but he never did!
We crossed the finish and my watch showed the distance as 6.63 miles (runDisney officially says the course was 6.72) in 1:03:37 (9:30 pace).
I also checked the weather right when we finished and it was a balmy 72 degrees and 91% humidity – ugh.
We grabbed our checked bags, downed some (much needed!) Powerade and water and headed into Epcot to enjoy the finish line party (and we did manage to stay until almost 4am!).
Overall, I’d say that while it’s unfortunate that the course was cut short, I think runDisney handled the weather situation well. Everything at Disney is done with guest safety as the priority and this was no different. The evacuation was orderly and they kept us well informed and safe the entire time.
I used to work in event management and I will say this, you are never going to please everyone. Decisions need to be made and no matter what you do, without fail, someone is not going to be happy.
I know there are people who are not happy about the decision to shorten the course, but had a different decision been made I’m sure there would be just as many unhappy people.
This is one of my favorite race weekends and I hope I’ll be able to return next year to (fingers crossed!) run the whole course!
Such a crazy experience! I definitely need to go back next year to run the full course. Congrats on beating Dan!
At least we were still able to make the best of it and have a good time! Looking forward to next year already!
Sounds like you had fun despite it! I’ve never had a race canceled or shortened, but I worked the NYC Marathon the year it was canceled and last year when they shortened the professional wheelchair course because of high wind (23.2 instead of 26.2 starting in Brooklyn and skipping the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge). The pro wheelers all seemed in agreement with the decision. Safety first. These are always tough decisions for any race director to make. And every single race director I’ve ever interviewed (including runDisney’s) says runner safety always comes first.
I get why they shortened it with the later start. These events (and all major races) are so carefully orchestrated down to the minute with street closures, police schedules, etc. They have very tight windows on everything. I’m not sure they’d have had the option at all to keep the roads closed (and workers and volunteers engaged) for an hour longer. Many of roads the races run aren’t even owned by Disney but by the city and the state, so rD doesn’t actually call the shots. (I did a story on the logistics of putting on these races–it’s insane: http://www.runkarlarun.com/2012/01/11/planning-marathons-at-disney-takes-more-than-magic/). They have to stick to the schedule, and cutting the first half of the course (which you would have been running between 10 and 11) suggests that was likely the case. They kept the race on the originally planned schedule.
Either way, glad you still had fun and congrats on beating Dan!
Oh I am totally going to have to read that article when I have a few minutes! Having worked in event production I totally understand the logistics that go into something like this and while you always have back up plans and emergency scenarios it’s still not easy to have to deal with a scenario like this and make some tough decisions! I certainly think the right decision was made in regards to runner safety and I still had a great experience!
hey, we got to experience a never before RunDisney event! And considering the heat and humidity and still not walking right after MCM I was definitely better off not doing the whole half (just an FYI, my Garmin had us at 6.83), and we still got to run through the Osbourne Lights and really, that’s the biggie for me (again from a purely selfish standpoint).
Moral of the story? We all still had fun and you #beatDan! 🙂
Haha, exactly! We’re run a completely unique event and I agree, I’m glad we got to run through the Osborne Lights one last time!
I heard it was very slick through Animal Kingdom and the storm did a number on the trees, so even more runners might have fallen and hit their heads or injured something if AK had been included. I have heard some of the disappointment and anger over rD’s decision, but weather is something no one can control.
Now, since this was slightly more than a 10k, will rD add a 10k to this weekend? You already tested out the course.
Interesting, I hadn’t really heard much, and since we didn’t actually get much of a storm where we were at ESPN I was thinking exactly that, that maybe the storm was worse in the direction of Animal Kingdom. And I do remember that area being very slippery during the rain last year, so maybe that was the case.
It’s unfortunate that some people were disappointed, but like I said, you can’t please everyone!
My husband and I were also at the Disney Wine & Dine this past weekend. This was the first ever Disney run for both of us. With just running a half-marathon less than a week prior I was really okay with the shortened course. I felt RunDisney handled everything as well as they could considering the situation. I do feel bad for the volunteers that were out there volunteering their time (I heard some people were so upset they refused their medals and took it out on the volunteers) I graciously excepted my medal, thanked the volunteers when ever I had a chance, made the best of the situation and overall had a fantastic time! We are already planning our next Disney run.
Wow, that is unfortunate that some people took out their frustration on the volunteers and refused their medals. I think runDisney handled the situation the best they could and I’m glad to hear it didn’t ruin your experience!
Which runDisney race are you thinking of for your next one??
We’re thinking of doing the Walt Disney World half-marathon in 2017. We’re bringing the whole family, and having my grandson’s birthday there! I’m super excited and it’s 2 years away!
Your pictures are awesome from this race!!!
Can we all agree to now #BeatJason?
Yes! #BeatJason & #BeatTana
I’m so bummed I never ran into you this weekend!! I think all things considered, runDisney did the best they could do in keeping people safe and still running part of the course. For me personally, I was not sad the course was shortened with that humidity!! Well, I was not sad once I realized they wouldn’t cut out the Osbourne Lights section since that was what I was looking forward to most of all. I can’t decide if I’ll do this one again – I liked it but I am not a night person, so we’ll see..
Oh my goodness, I just remembered when I read your comment I think I saw you by the bag check area right before the evacuation! I was going to walk over to say hello when they announced the evaluation and then I think when I remembered to look for you you were gone!
Was this your first time doing Wine & Dine? I always love it, it’s tough to run a race that late at night but it’s fun to do something different!
Ha! As I was reading your post I was thinking to myself, I’ll bet I was at bag check around the time Danielle was.
It was my first time to do Wine & Dine. The more I think about it, the more I think I need to do it again to get the full experience!
runDisney was in a no win situation and those who made the best of it, like you and your group probably had the best time. It was interesting that another comment included runners who were not nice to the volunteers. I was shocked at the NYC Marathon to never hear other runners thanking volunteers. Races would not be held without volunteers so I find that all pretty bad.
I got my two favorite parts of the course–Osbourne lights and the Boardwalk/Yacht Club/Beach Club so I was a 100% happy camper. Especially with the humidity. Honestly, the humidity was making me sick all weekend even when I wasn’t running so I was fine with a shortened distance.
Yeah, I was glad the lights weren’t cut out since it’s the last year we’ll be able to run through them! And yes, the humidity was BRUTAL! As much as I really wanted to run the full race there was a part of me that was much happier with 6 miles vs. 13!
Due to the fact that the Disney Half Marathon was shortened to a half of a half then it real isn’t a complete sactioned race….. SO Danielle you really didn”t beat my little Daniel… you will have to try again 🙂
Haha, we’ll need a rematch! (Although I’m pretty sure in an all out race he’d probably beat me!)
The race was definitely crazy but rundisney made the best call they could. Safety is first! and if the storm had gotten bad, everyone running would have been close enough to Studios, Epcot, Boardwalk, etc to get to safety. Out on Osceola Parkway to Animal Kingdom there are many miles of nothing which would have been dangerous
and we got to see the Lights!!!
I agree, I think they made the best call they could have. It’s unfortunate that there are some people who seem to not understand and are legitimately upset – as much as people think they can, Disney can’t control the weather!
I was curious to read your take on this race weekend…definitely crazy and a uniqyue experience! It seems like the best decision but like you said, not everyone will be happy with the decision made. I’m not surprised that you guys seemed to make the best of it and enjoy the experience. I hope to be back to Wine and Dine someday…once it breaks its streak of miserable weather conditions 😉
Haha, we had a blast as usual, it’s always my favorite race of the year!