We arrived in Orlando on Thursday evening to temps in the high 50’s and thought that just maybe all of the weather forecasts were wrong for the weekend. We got checked into our hotel, Port Orleans French Quarter and met up with a couple of our friends.
Friday morning we got up to some very cold temps, predicted high for the day was 45 degrees.
We had some breakfast and got over to the expo early. The Expo was about 2-3 times bigger than the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim. We got our bibs, t shirts and goody bags and wandered the aisles of the expo. We decided to buy each of us a Tyvek jacket for $10 each and that proved to be the right move. It seems that the Tyvek jacket and pants vendor was the big winner that weekend. After wandering for a bit, we decided to board the bus back to the hotel. We spent Friday afternoon roaming around the Disney complex and met up with our friends from www.crowncast.org for dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s Express. We spent the rest of the evening looking over weather reports and talking about strategies for the race morning.
Saturday morning we woke up at 2:30am and began to get ready for the race. I decided on tights, base layer shirt, run club shirt, long sleeve tech shirt, throw away sweatshirt and the tyvek jacket. Hat and gloves rounded out my ensemble. We met our friends at 3:40am and boarded a bus for the starting area. The temperature was in the high 20’s and later found out that the temperature at the start of the race was 24 degrees. When we got to the starting area two of our friends went to the race retreat and the other three of us got to stand out in the bitter cold. I bought a cup of coffee to try and keep warm, but that was really difficult as there was no covered area to wait. (More on that later) The three of us waited for the porta pottys and the snow started. It was light and never made it to the ground.
We made our way to the start. The walk to the start was about ¾ mile and we were late, the race started as we were getting to the last corral. We ended up waiting and getting into the last corral, G. I had been assigned corral C but there was no way to get there. It took about 30 minutes to make it to the starting line and away we went. Corral G is very crowded, mostly with walkers and those that didn’t furnish proof of time. As we made it to the starting line, the snow was turning into a "wintery mix".
Corral G was very crowded and I spent the first couple of miles trying to get past some of the slower runners and walkers. The first 2 miles were littered with discarded clothing, the Orlando homeless shelters got alot of donations that weekend. I saw other runners taking discarded clothing and putting it on because they were cold...I guess there is a first time for everything. At mile 2 I shed my throw away sweatshirt and made a pitstop on the side of the road. The next few miles is where the sleet became rain and continued on throughout the race.
There were not as many runners dressed in costume as I have seen at the Disneyland Half, but I think that was due to the extreme cold. The y guy dressed as Stitch looked to be pretty warm.
We finally made our way up to the Magic Kingdom, turned inside the park and headed up Main Street. The Castle was light up along with Main Street and all of the Christmas decorations...what a sight.
The course narrowed as we made our way up Main Street and into Tomorrowland. At some points the course was no wider than about 10 feet, so the pace slowed a bit as I tried to maneuver around other runners.
Next up was Fantasyland and Cinderella's Castle.
We then made our way through a backstage area and they had a Pirates of the Caribbean ship setup along with Capt Jack Sparrow, who incidentally looked an aweful lot like Johnny Depp...go figure.
We then exited the park along a backroad that was really narrow, I ended up running on the grass for a while just to be able to pass people. After a mile or so we ended up on the main road again heading back to Epcot and the finish line. There were 2 overpasses in the last couple of miles and I felt them.
At the end of the overpasses was Epcot where we entered the park, headed down to the waterfront at World Showcase, turned around and headed for the finish line.
I finished in 2:11:25, which is about where I had wanted to come in. (My target was 2:10-2:15) I wasnt pushing the pace and felt good the entire run. I enjoyed the scenery and the race itself. I went down the finish chute, got some mylar, my medal and some food, now the waiting begins...
My wife walked the race in 3:15:51, so I had about an hour to kill. I was getting text updates from the race so I knew her approximate finish time. I went and got my bag out of bag check and looked for a dry place to wait for her to finish. The only place that was dry was the massage tent, so I headed in and stood around for a while. I was getting cold so I shed a couple of damp layers and put on a sweatshirt, but I was still cold. This is where I and many others as well feel that Disney failed...they had several days warning that this cold front and storm were coming. They could have set up some tents in the family reunion are for runners to wait both before and after the race that was covered and a bit warmer than standing in the open. This would not have been a big deal for them as they have plety of tents at their disposal. I was so glad when I got the text saying that my wife had crossed the finish line. I went out to meet her and we immediately headed for the bus pick up. We got in line for our resort, which turned out to be a very popular place based on it's location. There were about 400 people in line in front of us, whereas the other resorts had 50-100 people in their lines. The buses would come, fill up and leave and another would come about 7-10 minutes behind the last. That's fine on any other day...but not today and Disney realized it. They started sending more buses to our stop and then they started scanning the line looking for people that were starting to get hypothermia and getting those people on buses right away. We got on a bus and headed back to the resort. We took showers and still couldnt get the chill out of us. Later that day we headed over to Downtown Disney to see a movie and have a good dinner. Our original plan was to go to a theme park, but with the terrible weather we decided to scrap that idea.
All in all, it was a good race and an interesting experience! I now have the difficult part of the Disney "Coast to Coast Challenge" done and once we run the Disneyland Half in September, we will collect our Coast to Coast medal. The people that I would really like to thank is all of the volunteers...they sat out in the cold/snow/sleet/rain and handed out water and encouraging words, all with smiles on their faces...so to all of you I say a big Thank You!
The next day we all boarded Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas for a cruise to the western caribbean. I will post about that later in the week.