Our story left off with us having tapas and sharing stories with Ali and her production crew at Rix Lounge. We had such a great time that we ended up staying out a little longer than we normally would the night before a race but, hey – the name the game this weekend was ‘live big!’ We weren’t looking for new PRs or any specific race results, we were looking to enjoy every moment and take advantage of every opportunity!
|Kris’ hat for the race – we are proud members of team #run3rd!|
Since the expo was long over, so was event transportation. That meant we either ponied up money for a taxi to take us back to Pop Century (~$15) or we take a couple different buses for free. With Mindy being a little more budget conscious, we opted for the free Disney transportation. With that, we took a shuttle bus to the Magic Kingdom (it was the first to arrive) and from there hopped on the bus to Pop Century. Mindy lucked out when we arrived at the Magic Kingdom and the Pop Century bus was already there – so we actually made pretty good time getting to our hotel.
We then got our race gear ready and tried to get to bed as quick as we could. We ended up with another night of only 4 hours of sleep … but, we were so excited for the race that we had no problem getting up!
|Happy Birthday, Ali!!!|
Race morning we were up by 3:30 so we could get on one of the first buses over to the race (the shuttles started from the hotel at 4am). Since everything was laid out and ready to go, we were able to get dressed quickly and be on our way.
Mindy was excited to wear her new Team Sparkle skirt but was a little worried about the new shorts she was wearing underneath (the were purchased at the expo on Saturday). She was glad we brought along our Skin Strong Slik! (shameless plug for our friend) With a few sprays of that, the new shorts and new tank top were no problem! Made it through the day comfortable!
|Event Transportation – from hotel to race start|
Now it was time to head downstairs and get on the bus. runDisney has this process down! In no time we were on the bus and heading to the start of the race!
From there we followed the crowd to the holding area …
|Here we go ….|
|It wouldn’t be long before this whole area was full! Glad
we got on an early bus!!!
|Princess stained glass windows|
This part got VERY congested as we entered the hall of stained glass windows – there was one for every princess and there were HUGE lines to get pictures with them (even though we heard there were signs saying ‘no pictures’). We just tried to stay in the middle and keep walking.
We made it to the ‘holding’ area – here they had a dance party going – the DJ was pretty entertaining!
They also had a plethora of port-o-poties!
|If you gotta go – now’s the time!|
|Very orderly bag drop – much better system than other
This was also where we found bag drop. We don’t always use the bag drops but figured we should this time since we had no idea what we were doing after the race. Again, runDisney knows how to host events so this process was very easy and well organized!
|And, now we wait! Don’t they know who we are …. nope!|
We made it through this area quickly and were ready to head to the starting line so we could meet up with Ali and her producers. This was where we got stuck … they weren’t letting anyone walk to the starting line until about 5am and it didn’t matter what we said or who we were with – we had to wait.
|Heading to the start|
They had this area marked off by corral but no one was enforcing where we stood. So, we stood near the walkway and as soon as they let us go, we were at the front of the pack walking as quick as we could.
|… oh, we will!!! Thanks runDisney!|
The walk is somewhere between 1/2-3/4 of a mile – along the way they have encouraging signs and lots of port-o-potties!
|Don’t see this often!|
A port-o-potty with out a line! Something tells me that was all about to change once the crowd made its way toward the corrals.
|Almost there and first in line …
We’re coming Ali!
We finally made it to the corrals (pretty neat to be the first to arrive!) – this is where we would need to work a little magic. It was no problem for me to get to the front of corral A, but men were not suppose to be in corrals A & B at all.
As we approached the entrance to corral B, we didn’t make eye contact with anyone and just kept walking like we knew where we were going – it worked, no one said anything to Kris!
|hmmm … how far can we get on our own?|
Then, we got to corral A and our luck changed briefly when Kris was swarmed by 3 security guys telling him he couldn’t go any farther. Two of them wouldn’t even give him a chance to talk and explain the situation – it was somewhat comical!
At this point I texted the producers asking them to come escort us while a security supervisor called someone on her walkie-talkie.
|Ali to the rescue!|
A few moments later we were at the front of the corral. We then climbed through the fence and walked behind the starting line with Ali towards the production crew.
|Nothing quite like celebrating a birthday
at Walt Disney World!
This was the first time Ali got to see her special birthday shirt – I think she liked it!
|Ok, what do I need to do???|
We got ready for the morning – Ali did a few interviews and we had a little down time before the race action began.
|Excited to be new #run3rd team captains!|
During the down time we chatted with Sean about #run3rd and talking about running in general. We were deputized #run3rd Captains by Sean and can’t wait to help spread the word about this great grassroots movement!
|The ladies love Sean!|
Then it was time for Sean and Ali to address the crowd – something the both do VERY well. They were in corral A doing interviews and being inspirational.
|Ali has inspired so many – it was so touching to see
how excited fans were to see her and tell their story of how
she has changed their lives! She has had a HUGE impact
on so many people!!!
And, before we knew it, there were only a couple minutes until race time. So, Ali and I got in with the ladies in corral A while Sean and Kris were pulled off to the side to wait for corral C.
|And, we’re off!|
Once the race was underway, Sean and Kris cheered for all the ladies running by. Kris served as fan photographer for ladies who stopped to have their picture taken with Sean as they moved towards the start line- and there were quite a few! Jeff Galloway was also there giving words of encouragement to the ladies before he and his wife joined the crowd for 13.1 miles of fun.
|High-fives for good luck!|
|Heather is amused by Sean’s technical difficulties!|
And, like that, we were all off and running. In true Disney fashion, along the way there were plenty of chances to stop for pictures with characters and floats. By the time we got to them, though, the lines were HUGE and we didn’t feel like waiting in line – so, we still got pictures OF the entertainment … just not WITH the entertainment.
|Ali found the ‘mean girls’ … the cast member doesn’t look
As we approached mile 3, we came up to the entrance to the Magic Kingdom – although, we would still have a while until we actually entered the park!
|Ali made it to the Magic Kingdom!|
|So did Sean … but, there was no stopping him for pictures!|
Shortly after, we crossed the 5k timing mat. Kris and Sean, as well as Tony- a #run3rd Captain who was running with them, passed Mindy and Ali around this point, and kept motoring along. We were all watching for each other while running, but still managed to miss each other in the crowd.
A mile or so later we were excited to see Space Mountain – but, disappointed when we found out we were still weren’t entering the park!
|Yay! Space Mountain!|
|Wait, why didn’t we go into the park ???|
Then, we made it! It is always fun to run down main street towards Cinderella’s Castle!
We turned right and headed through Tomorrowland
|To infinity and beyond!|
We continued through Fantasyland to and through the castle … always a highlight!
|And, there are always photo opportunities
as you run through the castle!
|They even had men announcing our visit!|
Right after this, we hit the 6 mile mark … almost 1/2 way done!
As we were leaving the Magic Kingdom, we found Cinderella and the Prince
And then it was time to head back to Epcot. Along the way we found a few friends … and, there weren’t any lines so we were excited to get a few pictures!
|Hanging out with Lilo and Stitch|
|Saying hi to Mulan|
|Flexing our muscles with Mrs. Incredible|
Around Mile 7 Sean wanted to pick up the pace a little to get close to a PR. Tony wished him luck and Kris and Sean set off on the next 6 miles together. Sean was really dialed in and Kris was pacing him along, with the pace getting a little quicker each mile.
|Sean Astin- Machine.|
We were on the home stretch! That’s when the fun began – as we approached the ‘hilly’ part of the course. We hit the first overpass as we neared mile 11 – at which point there was a green army man from Toy Story telling us this was our last hill … after that, each time we’d hit an overpass the crowd would bring up how the army man lied (it was slightly comical to listen to!).
There were 3 decent overpass ‘hills’ that wouldn’t be a problem in most situations, but aren’t as pleasant 10, 11 and 12 miles into a race … nor are they a fun ‘surprise’ when you think it’s a flat course or have been told there are no more. But hey, we’re running at Disney World and a few hills won’t hurt!
It was on these hills that Sean started to fade a little. Kris said they caught up to Jeff Galloway and his wife- doing the run/walk method exactly as he tells people, timer and all!- and exchanged pleasantries, wishing each other a strong finish to the race. Sean was giving it all he had, but the hills and humidity were adding up. (So was doing the Pasadena Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon the week prior!)
|Only 2 miles to go!|
On the final overpass, we could see the iconic Spaceship Earth and knew we were getting close! We continued to run in its direction knowing the finish wasn’t far behind!
|Ok – not the best place for a picture,
but we were excited to be back in Epcot!
We then spotted one more ‘character’ … but, we weren’t exactly sure who it was ???
|My, what poofy sleeves you have!|
Now we were really almost done – we ran into Epcot, around the fountain and were heading back out.
|Hey, a smile while running!|
As we left the park, we hit the 13 mile mark. I texted the producers so they knew to watch out for us – they gave us directions of where to be and we finished! … with a smile!
|And, we’re done!|
|Yay! Mile 13! We made it to the finishing chute!|
Kris and Sean had an eventful finish- right at the turn for the finishing chute a lady was stopped in her tracks asking for somebody to help her! The lady had a horrible calf cramp and couldn’t walk. The two of them stopped, oh-so-close to the finish line, and helped her off to the side of the course. After offering to carry her to the finish (that would have been a sight to see!) and making sure she was able to make it, the guys took off towards the finish sprinting the final few yards!
Upon crossing the finish line, Mindy and Ali met up with the producers and Ali had an interview to do with runDisney… nothing like getting right back to work!
We then went to collect our goodies – first up … water and Powerade – it was a warm, humid day and we definitely needed to rehydrate!
Then we received our medals! That part never gets old!!!
|One has a Prince Charming hat, the other a tiara…|
Now it was time for food – we received the same box they have been using at the other events … however, we were disappointed that they traded out the pita chips for crackers. We really liked the pita chip and hummus combination!
Then it was time to take a few photos.
|Not a bad pair of birthday presents!|
And collect our Coast to Coast medal!
Before leaving, we made sure to collect our drop bag – we were very glad we utilized this service – in the bag we had a change of clothes and shoes which would be coming in handy!
|Here’s the video of this interview|
While we were getting all our stuff, Sean and Ali were still entertaining – lots of pictures and interviews for them!!!
|Here’s the course map|
After all of that was done, it was time to enjoy the VIP lounge. Finishing a bit ahead of Mindy and Ali, Kris was able to get a head start on post-race festivities. Inside we had great company, great food and great race viewing!
|Sean and his taskmaster show off their bling!|
|mmm … eggs, bacon, french toast and cocktails … time to refuel!|
|The Diet Diva isn’t a fan of Kris refueling
|VIP viewing area|
|Congratulating Rachel Booth on her back-to-back
wins and new course record – 1:17:38
|Great view of the finish line!|
|Kris and Sami enjoying the spoils of the VIP area|
|Sami, Mindy, Ali and Christina|
|Mindy with Team Sparkle|
We don’t have much experience with the Walt Disney World events but can say this was fairly similar to two two we have done (Wine & Dine – Nov 2012 and Goofy’s Challenge – Jan 2011). We have found the 1/2 marathon courses to be pretty similar and do like that everything is held on property – event transportation is easy and they are able to close off roads and provide entertainment all along the way.
On the other hand, since the parks are so spread out and far from the hotels – you have to budget a lot more time for pre and post race transportation … definitely not an easy ‘run to the hotel’ to grab something or ‘roll out of bed and walk to the start’ like we’ve been spoiled with at Disneyland. In addition, since it is so spread out, it doesn’t feel like you get to see as much of the parks as we do during the 1/2 marathons in California.
With all of that said – we would go back to this event again and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in a women’s 1/2 marathon. This may not be the right fit for a guy looking to PR (or a lady for that matter since there are so many participants!) but this definitely makes for a fun girls’ weekend!!!
|It’s always nice to feel like a princess!!!|
Here’s the Garmin info for Mindy & Ali …