As per our plan, we caught the 3am bus to the Race Retreat to enjoy our pre race bagel and get ourselves pumped for the marathon. Mary Poppins and her gang was in the photo op area again so we posed for a few before the line up started. We made the long walk out to K corral when the announcer called our letters over the speaker. Again, we spent the time in the corral listening to the race announcers, talking to our co-runners who waited amongst us, and watched several runners jump the barrier so they could take one last pee break in the field of darkness that was over to our right of the corral.
Finally, it was our turn to start the race. As we began our journey just outside of Epcot, we ran until we found mile marker number 2. We were sure to take a picture as this was the halfway point of our 4 day journey. Finally, we could say, “We made it halfway!”. We entered the Magic Kingdom just outside of 5 miles. Again, we felt the rush of energy and excitement as we entered Main Street, Tomorrowland and Cinderella’s Castle.
By mile 6 we were outside of the Magic Kingdom and making our journey towards the Walt Disney World Speedway. This was a welcome change to the last time I ran this route as the course had been changed for the 2013 marathon anniversary. We actually got to run on the speedway. How cool is that? As well, there were several cars lining the speedway for runners to take pictures along the way.
As we left the speedway, there were several miles of road until we came to mile 12 just outside Animal Kingdom. As we entered Animal Kingdom, we found ourselves running past Expedition Everest. We also saw a non-person runner. Wonder how far he got? 😉 Not really sure where I saw the Grave Diggers. I was tempted to lay down for a few minutes, but really, who’s kidding who? If I sat down, I don’t think I would have gotten up! As we left Animal Kingdom we ran past the mile 13 marker. Almost halfway there!
At some point I remember slathering on some Bio Freeze on my left hip and quad area. Nothing like getting a handful of the gooey gel and putting my hands down my tights to get it to the necessary area. No one thinks anything of it, as we are all in the same situation.
We ran several more miles before reaching our next stop at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. This was another cool revision to the race course.
We got to run around the track, and see ourselves on the big screen at the baseball diamond. The place is gigantic and if it weren’t for the runners ahead of me, I would have surely got lost.
As we left the complex, we were well on our way to mile 20 and a few more miles before entering Hollywood studios. By this time, my quads and hamstrings really hated me, and it was easier for me to run than to do intervals. I just kept the pace and moved myself forward. One step at a time.
Somewhere along the route, we ran into this guy and his running companion. YES, THAT IS A TUBA! I cannot comment on this without dampening my ego. *Wuah, Wuahhh*
It was a welcome sight to see Hollywood studios as I knew we were nearing the finish. The medical stops had run out of Bio Freeze and my quads had decided to fight me every step of the way. With my fists up, I battled back, and said “Move it”. They listened and followed direction, but they did so stubbornly.
As we left Hollywood Studios just outside of mile 23 we entered a little more road and then the Disney Yacht Club area. There were tons of people cheering us on towards the finish, and I was able to find one more medical station with Bio Freeze. Just before entering Epcot, we saw Dopey cheering us on. He didn’t say anything, but I got the feeling he was laughing on the inside.
At last we saw the iconic Spaceship Earth and we knew we had arrived. What a welcome sight. The crowds were cheering and I over heard a father tell his daughter who wanted to stop, “It’s just 200 yards!”. A few of us chimed in and said to her “You got this”. She proceeded on.
As much as my quads hurt, I had that extra step in my gait near the finish line. The music was blaring, the crowds were cheering; I couldn’t help but do a little running dance as I ran into the last stretch. I think I even gave Mickey a High-Five! We crossed the finish line upright and smiling. We made our way to the medal area and first received our Mickey Marathon medal. Next up was Goofy, and then finally, the coveted Dopey inaugural bling! Two Dopeys on the run….WE DID IT!
After the race, we went to the medical area for some ice. I think this added a nice touch to my Dopey outfit.
After leaving the medical area, we made our way back to the Race Retreat to have lunch and changed into some warmer clothes. We met up with Tabetha and her group and shared our marathon stories. It was a nice relaxing way to finish off our marathon.
But wait! It wasn’t over just yet….it was only mid afternoon!
We jumped (more like shuffled) our way to the shuttle bus and cleaned up at the resort. We then made our way to Hollywood Studios for some celebratory fun. We found Mickey and of course had to show him our marathon bling.
Later in the day, we dined at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios. Nothing like a good home cooked comfort meal after running a marathon. The celebratory drink was pretty snazzy too as our ice cubes lit up! We were famished!
Finishing the Dopey Challenge and the marathon was an amazing experience. I’m not sure if I would have done anything differently. We paced ourselves accordingly to deal with the traffic, the heat and to allow ourselves enough stamina as each day got progressively longer in mileage. Of course, we could have done a little less theme park and a little more sleeping, however, I’m pretty amped at a WDW running vacation. The adrenaline just keeps me going. By the time we finished our meals at the Prime Time Cafe, I think we were pretty wiped out. Relaxation mode started to kick in – No more races to run. We knew we had to go back to the resort and start packing up our things for the flight back to Toronto the following day. We were able to spend a few more hours at the Magic Kingdom on Monday before saying so long to Walt Disney World for 2014.
But wait…is that all? Is that where it all ends?
A few days later, we were going to say “Hello to Disneyland”, to participate in another 3 races at the Tinker Bell weekend in California. We had two days to rest and recover before we had to take to the pavement yet again.