This time, it's all about the big guys - the half marathon and the full marathon from the Dopey Challenge!
Saturday (the day of the half marathon) started
My favorite part of the race starts at Disney is the fireworks! Fireworks go off at the start of every corral, not just at the beginning of the race, which is so awesome. Eventually my corral made it to the front, and off we went!
My goal for both the half and full marathons was to take it easy, walk when I felt like it, and be able to walk around the parks afterwards. Oh, and to take lots of pictures with characters!
We basically ran from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and back, with lots of character stops along the way. It was hot and humid, but with so many fun distractions on the course (and plenty of water), I didn't even notice.
After the half marathon, we went to the Polynesian resort (again...) and were joined by my uncle who recently moved to Tampa. Then off to Hollywood Studios we went!
Now back to those 26.2 miles...
Marathon morning started out the same as the half, so I'll just skip to the fun stuff.
I don't think I'll ever love a race as much as I loved the Walt Disney World Marathon.
It was so incredible that I don't think I can pay it justice with words and pictures, but here's my best try:
Once again, we started at Epcot and ran straight to the Magic Kingdom. This part was before sunrise, which I always love. There's something about running in the dark with 30,000 other people that's just so exhilarating!
I saw my family cheering me on in the Magic Kingdom again (one of my favorite parts of the race!) and ran through Cinderella's Castle. I knew I wanted to jump in front of the castle again, but my legs were tired and still loosening up (even after 6 miles) so this one took a lot of mental preparation.
The Magic Kingdom is really pretty magical.
After the Magic Kingdom, we ran around Disney's racetrack, where spectators were cheering by their personal vintage car collections. I'm not into cars, but it was pretty cool to see runners stopping to ask the spectators about car models and engines and whatever else you talk about regarding cars.
Then, my favorite part: Animal Kingdom!
I don't know if it's just because I've never actually been in the Animal Kingdom before (shame on me!) or because we were nearing the halfway mark or even because I had met one of these stilt-walkers at Starbucks a few days earlier, but this stretch was pure awesomeness.
I even got to ride Expedition Everest during the marathon. While running through Animal Kingdom, I noticed the ride's sign and a few runners running into the entrance, so I just followed them! The staff directed us right onto the ride (sorry, regular park-goers!), so we basically ran onto the ride, cheered and chanted "GO DOPEYS!!!" the entire time, then ran off the ride, through the gift shop, and right back onto the course at mile 13. Where else?!?
We then made our way to ESPN's Wide World of Sports, where there were glorious washcloths soaked in ice water, bananas, and tons of spectators. All of mile 16 was headed into the sports complex, while other runners were headed back out on mile 20. While I was running both of those stretches, I passed time by searching out the "purple people" running the opposite way and cheering "GO TEAM!" I got so many cheers back, it just made me really appreciate everything Team in Training does. Not only are we all raising thousands of dollars, but we're cheering each other on, helping each other out, and growing into a family out on the course.
Once we made it out onto the main roads again, we were well on our way to the finish - less than 6 miles to go! We ran into Hollywood Studios via the creative costuming department, a behind-the-scenes look at the character costume creations. Naturally, I walked through that part to soak it all in.
As we neared the finish, knocking miles 22, 23, and 24 off, we made it to Epcot! Hooray!
Dopey was there to greet all his challenge runners, and I had a great time chatting with other Dopeys and a few other Team runners in line. Most of us had stopped to ride Expedition Everest and a few had plans to take tequila shots and grab frozen margaritas in "Mexico" at mile 25.5! Runners really are the craziest people.
I ran-walked my way to the finish, grabbed my marathon finisher's medal and snagged two more (the Dopey and the Goofy) while I was at it!
A productive morning, indeed.
Can you tell how excited I was at the finish? :)
If you're still hangin' in there with me, thank you for reading! I love writing race recaps because they remind me how much I love running, and I hope you have fun reading them!