By Erin Johnson
This past weekend was the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Half Marathon, the race did not start due to bad weather. RunDisney followed the weather very closely and the night before the race cancelled it. This was the right call to make, at 3:30 Race morning there was a tornado watch for the race site and it was actively thunder storming. RunDisney's inclement weather policy states that they can cancel the race and not give the runners anything. They chose not to take this route.
Even though the run was cancelled I was still able to do many of the activities surrounding the event. Packet pick-up was very easy to do, and I had pre-printed my Race waiver so that I could skip that station. You then found your bib number on the booth and here I was able to pick-up my bib with the pre-purchased pin and special 20th Anniversary luggage tag I had ordered. I had also pre-purchased the Tervis Tumbler, ornament combination pack. Disney does gender specific race shirts that you pick up in the Jostens Center, this was also where the expo was.
The race expo is like a runners candy land, you can find almost any product you can think of here. New Balance had a very large section of the expo as the title sponsor for the races. I got a waterproof case for my phone because of the weather report but did not really buy anything else. One item that I noticed that was not available were generic 13.1 or 26.2 magnets.
The race after party was held at Disney Springs. Many of the eateries gave discounts when either bib or medal was shown. There were also select retail locations with discounts for the racers. The Disney Springs Area was not as festive with the Marathon as it had been in previous years.
I am going to use my previous times running this course to give a recap. You start off by being dropped off at the race site by Disney transportation, the latest this happens is about 4:45am. You then go through the security area to bag check. Here there is a very large section of porta-johns for any needs a runner might have. These porta-johns also have the longest lines. After bag check you walk about a mile to where they have the corrals set up on Epcot Center Drive. The elite corral starts at 5:30am with all the following corrals starting every five minutes.
Once you cross that start line you start the four mile journey to the Magic Kingdom, and you hit your first character about mile 2 and keep seeing them about every half a mile or so. At mile 3 you go under the iconic Magic Kingdom Arch. Watch your step here on the speed bumps. You then start to weave through the Ticket and Transportation Center Parking Lot. This is a great location to have friends and family cheer you on. You then leave the parking lot and run "Contemporary Hill" the biggest hill on the course. Generally, they have a DJ on the bridge you are running under. Once you crest this hill, you see Space Mountain and run forward to head into the Magic Kingdom Park. You hit the park at about mile five, and start off running down Main Street USA. Then you turn in to Tomorrowland and run through to Fantasyland. At this point you turn to run through the Castle, and to me this is the best part of running a Disney Event.
Next you run through Liberty Square to leave the park, you are at about mile 6. You then head towards the Grand Floridian, where you hit mile 7, and if your family cheered you on at the Ticket and Transportation Center they can hop onto the monorail and get off at the Grand Floridian. You hit mile 8 outside shades of green and at this point you start the trip back to EPCOT.
You begin to see the EPCOT ball at mile 10 when you run next to the entry pavilion. At mile 12 you enter the park and run through Future World. You turn around at the entrance to the world showcase and head to the gospel choir. When you are at the gospel choir you have a tenth of a mile to go. You cross the finish line with the help from the fab five; Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto. After the finish you get your finisher medal and food box.
See you at the race next year, 2018 here I come.
The options that we were given were that we could either receive a full refund in the form of a Disney Gift Card, get two one day park hopper tickets to get into the park, run the full marathon on Sunday, or defer the entry to another RunDisney Half Marathon event in the next 24 months. I took this last option and will be doing the Dark Side Challenge in April.