Race Review: Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k (11/8/2014) or: “Get on your bikes and ride…”

Say, gang! Hokeydude here. In our awesome first of hopefully many cross-blogging promotions, today’s race review is courtesy of our good friend Sarah from Sparkly Runner. Sarah is not only great people, she’s an avid blogger and Disney Runner, as well as a good friend of all of us over here at Hokeyblog — if she hadn’t stalked me at the 2013 Disneyland Half, this post never would have happened over here! Check out her take on the Jingle Jungle 5K and please be sure to visit her over at Sparkly Runner.

 

If you’ve ever wondered where you can run a Christmas-themed race complete with fake falling snow in Central Florida in November, look no further than Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k. This race takes place during Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend and features a fun course through Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

Photo Credit: Run Disney
Photo Credit: Run Disney

I’ve done this race for the last three years in a row but this year it was extra special- it was my first post-injury 5k. In September I was diagnosed with a stress fracture that crushed my fall running season dreams- including the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. With the blessing from my doctor, I was cleared to walk the 5k last weekend and I jumped at the chance to be back in a race.

We (my boyfriend Matthew, my dad Mark, and his girlfriend Margie) arrived in Disney last week and caught an early bus from our resort over to Wide World of Sports for the Health and Fitness Expo on Friday. Despite some crazy lines, we eventually picked up our bibs and shirts. This year the 5k shirt was gray. A gray shirt for a Christmas-themed race. Gross. Anyway, we shopped around and the only thing I walked away with was an official runDisney 5k race pin and a pair of lightning bolt Shwings for my shoes.

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After the expo we hung out at the parks all afternoon. We headed back to the resort semi-early, around 9, because we had a pretty early wake-up call the next morning. The race started at seven and buses started leaving the resort at five. Gotta love that “hurry up and wait” Disney mentality

Saturday morning, Matthew and I crawled sprung out of bed at 4:30 am, got dressed, and headed for the bus around 5:15. One awesome thing about runDisney races is the hassle-free transportation when you stay on property. A bus will take you to and from the races easily, even at o’dark thirty.

Once we arrived at Animal Kingdom (the race starts in the parking lot), we dropped off a bag and met up with some friends- Nathan, Jessie, Heather, and Jenn. Most of these are people we’ve met through social media or other runDisney races. I have to say, this northerner was COLD Saturday morning! It was probably around 55 degrees and windy but it felt much cooler.

Pre-race festivities included an hour-long line for a picture with Mickey and Minnie. Matthew and I decided to pass on that and instead tried to keep warm by dancing to the many line dance songs the DJ was playing. Matthew can do a mean Electric Slide.

Disney also provided a really nice wintery background that many runners were using to get pictures. After posing for a few, the DJ started announcing that it was time for us to head to our corrals. By some miracle, Matthew and I were placed in Corral A so we made our way there and grabbed a few more pictures. I’m a big fan of the selfie.

Heather and me with icebergs? Mountains? Skinny snowmen?
Heather and me with icebergs? Mountains? Skinny snowmen?

 

Corral A Selfie
Corral A Selfie

Just as the sun was rising, the race started- complete with fake snow! Matthew and I were the last people to cross the start line from corral A. Since we were walking the entire race, we wanted to stay out of the way of the runners. The first mile of this course is in the parking lot. Literally, you make a big loop of the Animal Kingdom parking lot and then enter the park at mile 1. While uneventful, it is well-supported with a water stop at .75 miles.

Course map courtesy of runDisney
Course map courtesy of runDisney

 

Told you I loved selfies
Told you I loved selfies

After entering Animal Kingdom, we ran past the big tree and into Africa. The paths in AK are really narrow and there were many times that the race became super congested. And because we were walking, we kept getting further and further towards the back of the pack. Also because we were slower, the lines for characters were ridiculously long. The line for Santa Goofy was probably over 100 people. Insane.

From Africa, we made our way to Asia and Expedition Everest- my absolute favorite ride in all of WDW. By this time, our friend Jenn had caught up to us and walked the rest of the race with us. After pausing for a quick picture, we headed back to Discovery Island and out of the park for the next out-and-back section of the course where we learned that Everest is not a real mountain. Sadness ensued.

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The magic is lost
The magic is lost

Finally we found a line that wasn’t crazy long- Pluto! We’d passed Donald, Chip and Dale, and Rafiki- we HAD to stop for at least one character picture.

What could be cuter than Christmas Pluto?
What could be cuter than Christmas Pluto?

Finally we made our way to the finish. At a little over one hour, we crossed the finish line and I was once again a 5k finisher.

Sweet, sweet victory. And fake snow.
Sweet, sweet victory. And fake snow.

After we received our finisher medallion and a box-o-goodies from runDisney, we headed to Boma to celebrate with Matt of Hokeyblog fame. His wife Kim and my dad and Margie also came out to eat our faces off sample the amazing buffet. Lots of good eats and good conversation- not a bad way to end my first post-injury race.

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This is my favorite Disney 5k- it’s in one of my favorite parks, it’s decorated for the holidays, and there is fake snow. It doesn’t get much better than that, friends.

As for Queen, well, I can’t imagine a better comeback song than “Fat Bottomed Girls” simply for the reason that it makes me pumped up when I hear it. Enjoy!

About Sarah:

When she’s not running or spending way too much time on social media, you can find her blogging at Sparkly Runner. She also enjoys stalking meeting up with her favorite bloggers at races; especially that time she got to meet Hokeyboy live in person at the Disneyland Half Marathon expo! What a treat! Sarah lives with her boyfriend Matthew and their adorable pug Koda (named after Brother Bear) in a tiny, tiny town in south central Pennsylvania. Obsessed with all things Disney, they are always planning their next trip to WDW and dream of one day working for the Mouse.

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