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!