By now, the majority of you know the basics of what went down at the WDW Half: storms ripped through, race got cancelled. When I awoke Saturday morning, the first thing I checked was the radar. All I could think of was, “runDisney made the right call.”
I hopped onto my other social medias, and was immediately inspired. Many runners were laced up and running around their resorts! And some had even done their mileage the previous night before the storms moved in! Treadmills were occupied, fans and supporters were along the routes cheering, and the Disney cast members brought their A game, setting up tables and cups for hydration stops while other runners brought out candy and other goodies.
My eyes were glued to my Twitter feed, constantly updating for the latest news. This was the running community at its finest: we’re there to work (in the form of miles and medals), so we worked. So many stories and accounts of runners trekking through the resorts and parks sparked a new life in the runDisney community. You could give us oranges and we’d still make lemonade out of them!
In my opinion, runDisney did a decent job with regard to communications. From the first instant that they knew something could go wrong with race day, they were on top of their game, letting runners and spectators know what was going on and directing that information across every channel they had: social media, the digital event guide, the race website, and even signs on the sandwich boards in the resorts. (I’ve heard some complaints about the timing of the information being released, but give them some credit: they have X amount of cast members trying to update and format X amount of communication platforms. Not everything is going to be “going live” right when they say it’s going to. Cut them some slack; they did the best they could with what they had.) Cast members kept their cool as they were peppered with hundreds of questions which they had just received the answers for. Once the ultimate decision was reached, obviously there was disappointments, and even outbursts of anger among some. True, we all spent a lot of money and time getting TO Disney, and a hell of a lot of time training on top of all of that. I can understand disappointment…but think of it like such: lightning is deadly. If a bolt struck a runner within a corral (and with 98% of us geared up with electronics and costumes and other random things, the probability was high), it would wipe out all 2,000 runners in that corral. runDisney was looking out for us. They also broke out their secret “Race Gets Cancelled, Open This” compensation plan and offered several alternatives for challenge and half runners. Since I was doing Goofy, my half marathon fees would be refunded in the form of a gift card (soon to be mailed), and I’d be getting my half medal at the conclusion of the marathon on Sunday.
With all that said, here’s how my day actually went…
*Woke up and watched Beauty and the Beast with Chris. (Perfect precursor to the Be Our Guest reservation for Sunday night!)
*Headed to the expo so Chris could pick up his medal (since he was doing just the half).
*Waited out in the rain and snaked the line all the way around WWOS for half an hour. We even got a character stop!
*Jumped back in the car and headed over to EPCOT (albeit very slowly. It took forever and a day to get out of the parking lot). That’s where our DIY WDW Half would begin…
We arrived around 2PM, and from the moment our feet hit the pavement, we were off. The only thing on our mind at the moment was bratwurst (and our team meetup in Mexico). After cruising through security, we were on our way to Germany!
Along the way, we were keeping a steady pace, and getting compliments from fellow runners along the way! We hit World Showcase and said a quick hi to our fellow teammates at Mexico before we bolted for Germany. The weather was chilly and gloomy…but it didn’t stop us from our first fun stop of the “race”.
We piggybacked to Mexico and met up with Team Shenanigans for good times and our traditional boat ride.
From Mexico, we made a day out of traversing World Showcase and Future World, stopping plenty of times for rides and shenanigans…
As Chris and I were heading up the bridge by France, I heard a voice ask…”runDisneyBelle?” Turns out it was Ted (@BigGoofyRunner!)! It’s always great to meet the online running community in real life. You can read about his WDWHalf adventures here!
After a few loops and some laps around The Land with Jess, Kristin, and Jackie, we headed over to the Boardwalk to mix things up a little! By then, the sun had gone down and it was getting windy and cold. My tolerance for cold is next to none (I seriously turn into Elsa!), and I ducked into a gift shop to buy gloves.
We were nearing the 13.1 mark and we had to head back to the car anyway, so we returned to EPCOT and continued walking circles until we finally hit the half marathon mark! Woohoo!
After a victory ride on Spaceship Earth (and a five minute escape from the cold), we headed to the ferry boat and back to the car. I got back to my hotel around 9:30 PM, and immediately laid out my flat runner for Sunday morning. Those 13.1 miles were going to catch up to me in about seven hours, and 2AM was going to come way too soon…
Shoutout to ALL of the athletes who completed their improvised WDW Half Marathons last weekend. Y’all are such an inspiration! Check out the hashtag #wdwhalf on the socials and see what went down those days. You are now a part of history, and will have stories for years to come. Your dedication and resilience during a time of frustration and disappointment truly shows the heart and soul of what the running community is all about: we don’t back down from our goals, and consistently persevere–even when the situation isn’t perfect–to get shit done. And that is what we did.
Next up: 2017 WDW Marathon recap!