Race Recap: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

My 2017 race schedule started at Walt Disney World for 13.1 magical miles! However it was not meant to be…

Friday: always the first stop of race weekend – expo! I was volunteering at the expo so I was able to pick up my bib and shirt before my shift started and the crowds arrived.

This was the 20th anniversary for the half marathon at Disney World. All participants received an extra gift of a luggage tag modeled after the race medal!

After getting the important stuff out of the way, I was able to take care of some of the “would be nice” and “I may need” items on my list.

I picked up my Clif Shotbloks from the Track Shack booth, bought a shirt from New Balance and completed my costume for Star Wars Light Side weekend with the help of a skirt from RunningSkirts.

Race sponsors, GoodSense and Cigna, were giving out pain reliever and an awesome race belt and I snagged those before heading to my assignment.

Next up was lunch at Splitsville in Disney Springs with Kellsie’s Hope Foundation. I didn’t run for them this race but I did fundraise so someone else got the opportunity to run the 5k on Thursday.

Last stop for the night was Fit2Run to pick up the runner gift which was a small mason jar.

At this point, all half marathoners were on alert for race updates. They were calling for bad storms race mornings. The show would go on for rain but not lightning.

By 8pm, runners notified the race for the following morning was canceled. You can not control the weather and the logistics of a race this size would have been a nightmare to shift.

By 10pm, runners were notified how Disney would make it up to runners. Runners were given multiple options: park tickets, deferral into another race, upgrade to the marathon or a full refund.

I decided to defer for Princess 2018 since I was planning to run it anyway.

**please note: there typically are no refunds of any kind in racing. This was completely not expected or needed but very much appreciated. Never ever go into a race expecting a refund unless it is clearly stated the management will refund**

Saturday: with no race to run, I slept in a little bit and had a lazy morning routine in my room.

I moved all my post race plans up so I gathered myself and off I went (complete with rain gear).

First up was Disney Springs. Sephora was offering “athletic facials” to the runners and I was not going to pass up on free pampering. The experience lasted maybe 30 minutes and was AWESOME! I walked away with some new tips and tricks, previous advice confirmed and a bag full of goodies.

My next stop was a soggy round of mini golf at Fantasia Gardens. Even though it was rainy and I was playing solo, it was a really good time! So much magic was put into every hole – I highly recommend! Everyone will be entertained on this course!

Finally, I headed back to expo. I wanted to pick up my half marathon medal and return the shirt I purchased at New Balance. I was expecting a lot of angry runners and stressed cast members but this was just not the case!

Upon arrival, I noticed lines. However these lines were to photo ops with characters! Half marathoners could snap pics with characters just like they would have on the course- how cool!

Walking into HP Fieldhouse, cast members from all over the resort were there to direct the runners to which ever option they choose. My option can be done through email and explained I just wanted my medal. Cast members were happy to help me and it was a quick and painless process. Also in the fieldhouse, Disney had balloon and caricature artists available. Everything was free and done to insure all racers went away satisfied.

Heading over to Jostens Center to make my return, I noticed the DJs that are typically out on the course. They were rockin’ just like they do when they play for us on the course. It was awesome to see their vehicle up close since I’m normally running past when I see it.

Disney went above and beyond to make sure everyone was satisfied. While expo was crowded, I didn’t hear any grumblings from anyone. Cast members were friendly and helpful. They definitely did more than they needed to – especially since they can’t control the weather. Truly awesome customer service.

Sunday: my last day brought an incredibly early wake up since I was volunteering for the marathon (I’ll talk about the vacation part in the next post). My shift ended around 7:30am so I went about my day before coming back to the race.

I had some friends running their first ever marathon so in the afternoon, I went back to Epcot to congratulate them in person. All 3 finished and all 3 had a look of disbelief on their faces that they did it. I couldn’t be more proud! And the best part, I met them all through Disney!

It wasn’t the race weekend I planned but I made the most of it.


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