When I first started running Disney Races there was not a RunDisney group. I believe it was known as Disney Endurance Events. My first race was the Race for the Taste 10k in 2006. I think it had about 2,000 runners. At that point, the races were just another thing that was offered at the Wide World of Sports complex. When you would first go to register it took a little digging to find where you needed to go. Don’t get me wrong, the marathon weekend was already huge but I don’t know that they really knew what was about to happen.
When Disney embraced what they could be to runner’s and Disney fans alike, is when I believe it boomed. They would become known as "new runner" friendly races. They would become more of experience races than races meant for a personal record. Looking back on the success of RunDisney it almost seemed to just happen. I know things just don't happen and it takes hard work but sometimes that hard work mixed with finding the right DNA helps push something over the top. It has grown to such a point it still makes me just shake my head. RunDisney found just the right DNA for their races.
The success of RunDisney comes from a few things in particular that I would say are the secret recipe. I will name a few but there is one thing in particular that stands out more than others. Some of the things are on-course entertainment, operational excellence, finding a way to improve each year and listening to the runner’s. However, one thing that really stands out is theme. Now, this should not shock you since you are running in a theme park. However, some of the themes are just fantastic. Whether it is the Wine and Dine, Tower of Terror 10 mile, Marvel, Star Wars and even the Princess weekend. Disney is known best for telling stories. That does not change at the races.
Needless to say, we have seen quite the transformation over the years at RunDisney. I feel Disney has managed the growth really well. In fact, as the course seems to get really crowded I feel they have made some effort to set limits and adjust start times to make sure we can still run. Well done RunDisney.
So back to the course. Today is where we start to divide the course between races. The first 8 miles of the two races are essentially the same.
I am always taken back as I take a left onto Floridian Way coming out of the Magic Kingdom. I have heard 15,000 cones are used for the race. When you start mile 7 you will believe that number. The cones are placed 3 inches apart. Yep! That is precision. I am pretty certain you can find your way down cone alley. Depending upon when and where you started the race along with your pace, the sun might be coming up soon or could be up already. The course through this area will feel pretty tight. This part of the course is very flat but it will be crowded as well.
If you are running the 13.1 and have been smart and saved the legs, this is when it will pay off. You will begin to notice a good bit off slowing down starting around this point. There is a good bit of this section of the course where there are no fans and you just came out of the excitement of the Magic Kingdom. Add to that, the fact that you still have over 7 miles left and it begins to take its toll on runners who went out to fast. You have to watch your pacing those first 6 miles. It feels much better to pass others and feel great the 2nd half of the race than to be leaking oil down the stretch. Save yourself.
If you are running the marathon, need I say more?! We have a long day ahead of us. Stay patient.
So to finish mile #7 you will pass the Grand Floridian Resort. Say hello to Mary Poppins perhaps. Soon after you do, mile marker #7 is looking you in the face. There is also a water stop at this marker.
After mile marker #7 you will begin to make your way to the Polynesian Resort. Good news, the cheering support really picks up as you get closer. Use that support and soak up the energy. I usually have family waiting for me in this area. This is another great spot along the course. After you pass Seven Seas Drive you will soon hit mile marker #8.
Just after this point is where the courses take different turns. Marathon runner’s, we will pick this back up in a couple of weeks. 13.1 runner’s, let’s keep going!
13.1 runner’s, I have some good news. After you pass mile marker #8 you have about 5 miles to go. The better news is that the road opens up a bit and gives you more room to run. The rest of the news is up to you. That’s right. Is it good or bad? If you have raced the 13.1 smart you are set up for an amazing finish. The next couple of miles are flat, you have plenty of road to use and you will be running by some runners who went out to quick. Remember, we are all battling the same thing. Give an encouraging word to your fellow runner. If you get passed give them a shout of praise. When you pass and see others struggling, they need a good word. Help them get to the finish. At about the 8.5 mile mark in the past there has been a gel stop so keep your eyes open for that.
This is up to you and I think you need to test in your training but how are you on calories? Will this race take you 1 hour and 30 minute or 3 hours and 30 minutes. There is scheduled to be only one food stop on this course. I would recommend you carry something. There is plenty to choose from at the expo or bring your own to Orlando. Either way, I think if you wait until you are over 8 miles into this race for calories, you will be too late. I highly recommend you bring along some calories.
You will pass around the outside of the race track and your sign you are getting close to mile #9 is the Magic Kingdom parking lot entrance on the left and the Hess Station on your right. At mile #9 you have a water station right ahead. Guess what! If you look straight ahead you will see a bridge down the road. Good news and bad news here. Yes, you have to go up that bridge but good news is you are getting closer. Yep, with each step you take you are getting closer to the finish line.
Next up….Where do you stay? (An introduction to TT5! That is right, Trey’s Top 5)