Special thanks to Debbie. She knows why.
You know I originally wasn’t planning on running the Disney Family Fun Run 5K during the 2014 Walt Disney World weekend, but I did, and there you have it. Taking place in the early hours of Thursday, January 9th 2014, the 3.1 mile course circles around the EPCOT theme park at Walt Disney World and is open to runners of almost all ages. The race was also notable for being the first leg of the inaugural Dopey Challenge, a four-day, four-race event that is entirely new this year and sold out almost instantly, shamelessly exploiting the bizarrely unexplainable obsessive nature of almost all Disney runners.
I am certainly among that fine group. But I wasn’t doing the Dopey this year; just the first three events only. Call me a slacker if you will, but I was “only” committed to 22.4 miles that weekend — the 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon. I decided against running the full Marathon. I would live to regret that position. More on that in another post…
Boots and I had arrived at Walt Disney World the night before, and by the time we had checked in and settled at the Wilderness Lodge it was already nearly 11 PM. We had to be up at 4:00 the next morning, and trying to get to sleep with that amount of anticipatory excitement flowing through us wasn’t the easiest trick to accomplish — especially for a raging insomniac like myself. Still, I managed to pass out after midnight and leap outta bed at 4 like I not only was entirely used to such curtailed sleep times, I positively thrived on it. Shyeah…
We drove to EPCOT, per our usual tradition. I’ll be blunt: I can’t stand the buses. There’s nothing wrong with them; by all accounts they are clean, comfortable, and run in regular intervals to shuttle runners between their resorts and the Start Area. I simply like being able to have my wheels with me at all times, for whatever reason. I can stash stuff without having to go to bag check, carry coolers, blankets, chairs, whatever we might need. Besides traffic was minimal and we made it in no time at all. It was a cloudy, cool morning, with a minor threat of rain lingering overhead. After we parked, we walked towards the start line area and noticed the Start Line in the distance. Recognizing a theme, Boots captured this pic of me:
Soon after we met up with our buddy Kristi, who, despite her rather impressive princess running costume, was rockin’ a Hefty bag to combat the cooler weather. While waiting for our other partner-in-crime Ines, Boots took this shot of us:
Kristi and I are members of the same running crew in South Florida so we planned to run together, along with our fellow crew buddy Ines. Except we couldn’t find Ines until we finally cornered her at the DJ Booth. There we just basically hung out and enjoyed the pre-race festivities which, by Run Disney standards, were kind of sedate. The DJ was blasting the usual standards (Gagnam Style, Cupid Shuffle, etc.) but that was basically it. No matter; I’m not one for all that schtick anyhow. Besides I had business to attend to — the ritual waiting in line for the Porto-Potties, at which time I randomly bumped into Keoni, another member of our running crew who was also doing the Dopey Challenge. Friends in Training was representin’ yo!
What was definitely noticeable was that this event, without a doubt, was a Family run. The 5K was an all-ages event, so there were plenty of children, grandparents, even toddlers and infants. This was my first cue that while I might consider running the event, it was most likely gonna be a 3.1 mile stroll. I originally planned on embarking on a solid (but non-PR pace) run, but my mind changed pretty rapidly on that front. Besides, both Kristi and Ines were doing the Dopey Challenge, and they weren’t exactly keen on going all-out for a 5K with 45+ miles ahead of them during the next three days. So in the end we decided to walk it, perhaps with a few spurts of jogging every now and then.
We were soon herded into our corrals, where we met up with our running mate Rosa with her crew. We spent the next several minutes chatting away while waiting for the race to start (scheduled start time was at 6:15). Things were getting ridiculous and enjoyably silly, especially when Ines suddenly shrieked excitedly while being unaware that her outburst occurred right during the Moment of Silence. YIKES! As a result Kristi laughed so hard, so violently, and so silently while trying to hold in her crippling laughter. I think Ines might have broken her…
Well anyway… soon after we had the National Anthem and the race began in proper. The 5K is an “untimed” event — there are no sweepers, no stress, and no timing chips for most people. Only the people doing the Dopey Challenge were timed; logic dictates that a proof of time would be needed for all challengers as proof of completion (in case their race completion bracelets were misplaced). Kristi, Ines, and I crossed the Start Line running and basically settled into a comfortable, easy walk for most of the race.
Speaking of which, here’s a satellite overview of the race course, courtesy of Garmin and Google:
We made our way north out of the parking lot, then east and looping south until we were backstage behind EPCOT, entering the park right next to the Mexico pavilion. The rest of the “run” was basically a walk through the park. Literally. Oh we had a great time, don’t get me wrong. Disney tunes were blasting from ever speaker; we even belted out a few bars of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” for the hell of it. I’d like to say this was the first and only time I ever sang out loud throughout the Marathon Weekend, but I’d be a big fat freakin’ LIAR. Yikes.
There were plenty of photo ops too: I recall seeing Flik and Atta from A Bug’s Life, Tweedle-Dee and Tweelde-Dum, a Norwegian-styled Daisy Duck, Remy from Ratatouille, and of course Dopey himself. The line for a photo with him seemed to stretch nearly the length of World Showcase! We ended up enjoying the walk, even in the light sprinkle of rain coming down on us, and the weather, while muggy, was cool and refreshing. We did end up taking a few group pics throughout the course:
Otherwise, there’s not much else to report. We worked our way around World Showcase, through the International Gateway, and then re-entering the park by the UK Pavilion and making our way back to the Finish Line area. It was a 3.1-mile walk: nothing more, nothing less. But we were having a great time along the way, which gave me the opportunity to act like as much of a goofball as possible. Naturally when we got close to the Finish Line, before we the spectator viewing area, we started jogging again. Appearances, people.
And just like that, we were done. We completed the entire ordeal in about 59 minutes. I mean, we DID casually walk the whole thing, for the most part, plus stopping for pics and a bathroom stop. A fine time was had by all. Kristi and Ines had to disappear to the Dopey Challenge line to get their wristbands, signifying the end of our adventure together, but not before we paused for one last Jazz Hands pic:
The medal is of course a big colorful rubber Pluto, and why not? We earned it! Overall, I had a great time ru– err, walking the 2014 Disney Family Fun Run 5K. It featured a fun, fast, flat, enjoyable course, with plenty of water stops and photo ops along the way. The 5K is also a great way to include the entire family to get out there and walking together in an friendly and inclusive atmosphere. Even if you’re not a runner, walker, athlete, anyone can have a great time. This is definitely not the 5K to run if you’re looking to get a fast time or a new PR, and in an environment like this why would you even WANT to? Take your time and enjoy it! I’m pretty goshdarn pleased that I did; at Run Disney’s prices, you might as well get the most bang for your buck. Here’s the video: