Archive for Race Report

Spruce Woods Ultra-marathon 50k – race report – May 13, 2017

Well – it has been a while since I put up a blog post – mostly because I haven’t really been doing anything particularly exciting or productive on the running side of things.

I will do a bit of a catch up post in a while but I want to get up a race report for the Spruce Woods Ultra-marathon 50k race while everything was still fresh in my brain! But as a bit of a spoiler for that post – my running has really tanked in the past several months and that was a factor weighing on my brain going into the race.

Basically I was not ready to run this race in the manner it deserves, and I thought long and hard about pulling my race registration and signing up as a volunteer instead. But in the end I decided I needed to go out and try and hopefully grab some inspiration from the other runners to get my head straight to get back to training properly.

Before I made this decision, I wanted to make sure that I could actually finish – my biggest concern was not being able to finish and costing the race resources because of my own silliness. That also meant I didn’t want to come in last place – because that would mean I most likely wouldn’t have if I had trained better and again this would have been costing the race resources.

So that was weighing pretty heavily on my mind before the race but I did the 2 hour early morning drive to get out there and sign in and catch the pre-race brief.

The race is put on by Trail Run Manitoba and the race director Dwayne – they always do a fantastic job making a runner’s race and ensuring everyone feels welcome and included and excited to be there. Dwayne’s pre-race briefs are always entertaining.

It came out during the brief that there were several runners who had never done a full marathon there and were there to do the 50k. Ballsy and awesome!

I made sure to put on bug spray to help chase off any ticks that might decide they wanted to make me a snack (especially important with Lyme disease making it into the area)…but I forgot to put on sunscreen. Still paying a bit for that mistake.

So at about 8:30 am the about 100 or so 50k runners were off (100 mile, 100k and 50 mile runners had already been at it for quite some time by this point) with a cut-off of 8 pm we had 11.5 hours to complete the race. I was still pretty concerned I was going to need all of it.

The morning was gorgeous – beautiful blue sky, just slightly cool and some wind, but not too bad.

About 2 miles in we hit the first real trail running type obstacle – a bridge across a creek had been washed out in earlier spring flooding but Park personnel had been able to build a make-shift crossing from a culvert and some larger rocks. We had been warned about it and apparently water levels had been fluctuating so there was a bit of a risk of getting wet. In the end it wasn’t too bad but it took a bit of time to cross as runners backed up to give everyone time to get across safely.

 

Creek crossing

 

The first couple hours of running were great – I felt better running than I had in a long time despite the constantly rolling terrain and some decent hills. In fact I felt really good right up until just near the end of mile 13 when I hit one wicked ass hill. I really don’t know how long a climb it was or how high an elevation change it was but by the end I was tempted to crawl that sucker.

After that, I just couldn’t maintain the same speeds that I was able to before – I could still run but it was a slower run. This meant I lost sight of a small group of folks that I had been running with and had some time to run with just my own mind. Which felt pretty good. I was still good company at that point.

Between miles 15 and 16 there was a pit stop where they had (along with other stuff) quesadillas, tacos and beer shots…if they had salsa I would probably still be there.

At this point, I was still thinking that I had half a shot to get near 7 hours to finish, 8 at the most. Weird, I still had optimism?

After that things got a bit odd – I actually felt better running than walking but the terrain was such that I couldn’t really run – if there had been some more flat ground then I might have been able to settle into an ok run at that point. But this was a hilly trail race and there weren’t many flat parts!

 

scenic view

 

I was definitely making sure to hydrate heavily with both my backpack (with flat coke) and my hand held (with either water or electrolyte drink depending on the pit stop) and was staying pretty coherent but I was definitely feeling things in my legs. One big bonus was that my achilles tendon that has been causing issues since last fall did not give me any grief this race!

The course is one big loop with an out an back section for the 50k and 100k runners to follow which is also extended out further for the 100 milers. The point where the 50k and 100k folks need to turn around is marked clearly but people were getting pretty burnt out at this point and I did see some confusion. I didn’t see anyone make a mistake though – just some second guessing before they caught what needed to be done.

 

Turn around!

 

Part way through the out and back there was an nice example of native Manitoba wildlife in its natural habitat.

 

flamingo trail marker

 

I was definitely getting wobbly going down hills by about the 26 mile mark and almost took a tumble a couple times just before the last full pit stop at around mile 27 and change. At that pit stop I made sure to drink a bunch extra since there was over 5 miles to go yet (you’ll notice that adds up to more than 31 miles that are in a 50k – yay trail math!) and there would only be a small un-manned water stop before the end from there.

I made sure to refill my handheld and checked to see how full my backpack seemed – it still seemed pretty heavy so I didn’t get anything added to it.

That was a mistake – about a mile later I went to take a drink from it and all I got was air. Crap.

It had gotten quite warm and had been very sunny for most of the race (yay sunburn!) so dehydration was a concern – especially for a guy my size. Plus it was dehydration that had caused me a DNF at this race last year – I got pretty nervous about this point.

All I could do was walk at this point so that meant what I had in my handheld was going to have to last quite a bit of time – so I started rationing and watching to see if I ever stopped sweating.

I talked a bit with some others out there at that point and they were asking how much longer? By my math at this point based on what the folks at the last rest stop had told me was that we had 3 miles to go yet. When I mentioned that I got the reply “What are they trying to do? Kill us?”. All I could do is was agree that I thought that was the plan.

Finally I got to the same creek crossing again from earlier in the morning – what seemed so easy hours before was now pretty damned serious – I don’t know how the 100 milers managed to cross that thing 6 times. In my first 3 steps to try to cross I almost fell in twice. At this point I just said screw it and moved fast and hoped momentum would get me across. Surprisingly it did!

Just after that was the unmanned water stop! Whoohoo – I only had a couple ounces of water left…and almost all the water was gone…crap – I got just enough to top up my 8 ounce hand held and started the final trudge.

At this point my mood got pretty dark – I was past the 50k mark, almost out of water and had stopped sweating with almost 2 miles to go. Well, it was an adventure.

What really got me was that I knew I was close but I couldn’t see the finish to drive me on – the rolling hills hid everything from view until the last half mile or so.

In the end I crossed the line in under 9 hours, got my great wooden medal (woodle as the Trail Run Manitoba folks call it) and headed out to the truck to try to get cleaned up, look for ticks and get some liquids. I didn’t stop at the finish line tent as I wasn’t sure what would happen if I stopped.

I got to the truck, popped the tail gate down, sat and grabbed a sandwich out of my cooler and took a bite…and had to spit it out immediately otherwise I was going to be sick. And if I got sick, I wasn’t sure I could maintain control of the rest of my bodily functions.

I ended up having to lay down in a ball on the tail gate and once I felt like that was helping I moved some stuff over and pulled myself into the bed of the truck under the tonneau cover out of the wind and stretched out and sipped on some coke and water.

After about 20 minutes or so I was feeling a lot better so I pulled myself out of the bed of the truck and started the slow process of having a parking lot shower and getting changed. It took quite some time as I had to keep sitting down and taking a break.

But by the time I was fully dressed in normal clothes, I was feeling pretty good. I wandered over to use the facilities and had a look at the post race barbecue but my stomach wasn’t settle enough to have any of the smokies they were grilling up. Looked great though!

So instead I walked back out to the truck, moved my cooler into the passenger seat and headed towards home. I had my first sandwich done before I hit a main highway. After that I concentrated on hydrating some more.

I also had a chat with myself about the race on my phone that I have loaded up to youtube – have a look if you are interested in what might come out of my mouth.

 

 

After about 45 minutes on the road I came up on a road side drive in restaurant and figured I would treat myself to an easy to digest ice cream. As soon as I saw their menu though I was suddenly starving so I got a burger instead – the burger was good but at the time it was the best thing ever!

Then the drive home in time to see the kids off to bed.

Definitely an adventure!

So some thoughts…

Many, many, many thanks to all the volunteers out there – Dwayne indicated there were over a hundred out – just amazing! You guys were great and really helped me to get through this thing.

Thanks to Dwayne and the Trail Run Manitoba team – another great event. So well organized and inclusive of runners from so many levels. Fantastic event!

Running hills sucks when you aren’t in the proper shape – which I am not. I am at a point now though that I need to retrain to properly do half and full marathons in general. That is going to have to be my focus and if I can get that back then maybe in a few years I can look at Spruce Woods as a runner again.

I expect to still do Lemming Loop again this fall…because it doesn’t have hills…

Seriously – I have essentially done three 50 milers and I think this 50k was the hardest race I have ever done.

At least it looks like I did no serious damage, a few blisters and some sun burn. I will take it!

2017 Goofy Challenge trip / race report – Day 5 – checkout, 2 parks and flight home

I was up relatively early today for my last day at Disney World (I had wanted to sleep in but that didn’t happen) before catching a flight in the evening back home to wintry Winnipeg. The temperatures in Disney World were already starting to recover from the cold Sunday marathon and that made it extra hard to want to go home to the -30C (-22F) and colder with the wind chill temperatures.

After a quick room scour to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, I did the wander down to Bell Services to hold my bags until Magical Express would pick me up just after 4pm.

I decided to have a quick breakfast at the Artist’s Palette at Saratoga Springs next which was very good and then I took a bus to Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom was the one park that I had not yet ridden a ride at on this trip and I wanted to rectify that. The My Disney Experience app was saying the wait times were pretty good there too so I might be able to do a bunch of stuff.

When I got there, there were large groups of people streaming into the park – I suspected that the light wait times were going to change quickly. So I did a fast walk over to Expedition Everest and was through the single rider line in under 5 minutes. Mission accomplished! At least one ride at each of the 4 parks!

I then did a bit of a wander around the park with the intention of trying Kilimanjaro Safari ride next but once I got over there the sign said there was a 45 minute wait but people were line up outside the line que area so I suspected it was actually a much longer wait than that. Sure enough a couple minutes later the wait time updated to 75 minutes…ok, Magic Kingdom wait times look better.  So off to Magic Kingdom I go. It hadn’t been my intention to do anything besides a quick run through Animal Kingdom but I ended up with way more free time than I expected.

It is nice that Disney has busses that run directly between the parks – it is a pain to go through security each time though so I might have to look at the new express service they have introduced when I am down with the family. It looks like (for a fee) you will get on a bus at a special location within the park and then get dropped at a special location at the next park and you don’t have to go through security again. Sounds interesting!

By the time I get to Magic Kingdom that park is getting busy too! Wait times have spiked all over but I took the opportunity to ride People Mover again and then wander all over the park just absorbing the feel of everything. I didn’t end up doing any more rides before I took the bus back over to Saratoga Springs.

I had a bit of time before my Magical Express bus came so I took the opportunity to rearrange some stuff in my bags before we were off to the airport. This included making sure I had my warmest jacket available in an easy to grab spot for as soon as I was off the plane!

It was nice that our bus only had the one hotel stop – sometimes Magical Express stops at multiple resorts to pick up people going back to the airport so it was quicker to not to have to do that.

Strangely the bus only stopped at one of the airport terminals – normally they will hit both and you get off on whichever side you need to get to your airline but this time the driver didn’t do that. Not sure if this was a policy change or the bus driver decision. Either way it meant a hike across the airport for me with all my bags. Not a big deal but it was a surprise.

After checking in with the airline and dropping my checked bag it was off to the long security line – it surprisingly didn’t take too long to get through but it certainly looked like chaos at first.

Through security – the quick monorail ride out to my terminal and had a sit, did some reading and had a light snack before getting on the plane about 30 minutes late for the 4hr plus flight home. There were some concerns there as there was significant snow fall occurring back home and it could have meant even more delays. But the flight was uneventful besides the short delay though which is always good.

Then through Canadian customs, pick up my bag and do the trek through the near -40C temperatures to my truck (which started easily and quickly warmed up, luckily). Then a 20 minute ride home through the fresh 3-4 inches of snow that had fallen in the past couple hours.

But I made it home safe and sound around 1 am. Finally got to bed around 2:30 so I could get 4 hours of sleep before getting up for work in the morning! Whoohoo!

It was nice the next morning that the kids got up to see me off to work as I hadn’t seen them since I tucked them in Wednesday night.

And that ended another Goofy Challenge / Disney World Marathon weekend trip…besides all the typing!

 

Hope you enjoyed following along!

2017 Goofy Challenge race / trip report – Day 4 part 2 – Epcot evening after race fun

See here for Day 4 part 1 describing the actual Disney World Marathon portion of the day.

After making it back to the hotel room and having a much needed warm shower, I sorted out a bunch of my gear and ate a sandwich that I had waiting ready in the room’s fridge. I also made my way through the rest of the runDisney snack box. 

At this point the early mornings caught up with me and I decided to lay down and have a nap so I could do my planned late night in Epcot that night. 

I set my alarm to wake me up at 3pm and I woke up feeling pretty good. Then I blinked and lost a half hour…ok, so up at 3:30 then. 

I got dressed up nice and warm and headed to Epcot wearing my Goofy Challenge medal. 

Interesting observation though – I saw very few other Goofy Challenge medals but several Dopey Challenge and stand alone Walt Disney World Marathon medals around the park. Why so few Goofy Challenge medals? Were there actually that few Goofy Challenge runners by percentage or did many of the Goofy Challenge runners decide they hadn’t earned that medal since the half marathon was cancelled and decided to wear the full marathon medal instead? I’m not sure frankly. Either way I felt I had earned the Goofy Challenge medal and displayed it proudly. 

I did a bunch of wandering around Epcot through the late afternoon and evening as the temperature got steadily cooler. At one point I hopped into the France pavilion to watch “Impressions of France” to get a half hour out of the cold. 

The cold didn’t stop me from wandering around with a cold beer in my hand though… 

I had a light supper in there at some point – most years I end up getting a reservation for one of the table service restaurants to celebrate but since I was on my own this year I hadn’t bothered. So instead I hit Electric Umbrella quick service instead and sat where I had a view of Fountain of Nations – not the fanciest of places but it holds good memories of eating here with my family on previous trips that makes it kind of special. 

I then hit a few rides – Frozen Ever After and Little Nemo – before wandering over to watch Illuminations – I picked up a hot coffee and a pastry to enjoy the show as well. It has become tradition for me to catch Illuminations on the last night of the Disney World Marathon weekend trips, it always feels like a great end to an epic weekend. 

It wasn’t exactly the end though. The park closed to standard guests after Illuminations but resort guests enjoyed a couple extra “Magic Hours” and I took advantage of that to get on Soarin’ and Spaceship Earth with very little to no wait. 

I then had to head into the Mouse Gears shop to pick up another piece of luggage – I had been given a shopping list of stuff to get by my wife and between that and my Goofy Challenge swag, I needed more carrying capacity. 

I found something at Mouse Gears that was big enough to carry what I needed while still counting as a carry on bag so I wouldn’t need to check another piece of luggage. It was not a cheap solution but it was well built and I will be able to take advantage of it on future trips with the family for sure which lessens the per use cost. 

At this point there was still a half hour until the Magic Hours were over but I was burnt out and still needed to get back to the room to pack! 

A relatively short bus ride later I was back at the hotel packing and luckily the new bag was a great size for what I needed. Yay! 

And shortly after midnight I was able to crash out and get some sleep! 

Next up Day 5 – hotel checkout, 2 parks and catching a plane home.

2017 Goofy Challenge trip / race report – Day 4 part 1 – a chilly marathon!

Ok – alarm went off at 2:30 and I started the layering process. It was super cold out (for Orlando) and with a sharp wind it was going to be chilly standing at the start line waiting for the chance to run!

(I haven’t added many race pics to this post but one quick note on the race pictures – the on course photographers are now Disney’s Photopass folks and you get your pictures through purchasing Memory Maker or by purchasing the individual pics you want. As an annual passholder I got the Memory Maker included so this was perfect for me. The photos looks pretty good too – well they look well composed, since I am in the contents they don’t look that good…)

Luckily (?) I had experienced cold before and my packing list (goofy challenge packing list) included cold weather running gear. I ended up with thermal leggings under running shorts, a thermal long sleeve shirt and my Nike Elements jacket. I also wore a thermal cap bought from the race expo on Thursday (I had brought one with me too but the runDisney one actually fit better). I also put on my running gloves and then loaded up my hydration backpack, grabbed one of the big black garbage bags I had brought and I was ready to go!

I got to the bus after a short walk and after they filled it up we were off. The drive to Epcot was uneventful (the driver didn’t get lost or anything like I have seen in the past). I did the wander through the security bag check and I was in with the crowd ready to race. Well, more like ready to snug together, any place out of the wind had large groups of people crowded together trying to stay warm.

Very shortly after I got there they were calling for some of the lower corrals (I was in E) to head through the bag drop off area and get ready to head out to the race corrals. So I did that and had a bit of a wait on the other side before they opened up the gates to let everyone do the long walk out to the corrals.

The walk was a bit different this year as they are doing construction on some of the roads near the start line. So instead of splitting the corrals early they all followed one path to a final split point where there were 3 different ways to go. This actually worked really well. There seemed to be less crowding this year which is always a good thing.

I made my way to corral E after a quick pit stop and then proceeded to chill…and get cold. The gear I was wearing has kept me warm down to -20C (-4F) and colder and I was still starting to shiver a bit. It must be something to do with the humidity because it wasn’t even below freezing. In Winnipeg when it gets cold the humidity is very low but I think the wind and the humidity gave the cold more bite than you would expect.

So at this point I broke out the black garbage bag and put it on as an extra wind break – much better immediately.

It seemed like no time at all before it was our time to go and corral E was off.

I kept a slow and steady pace through the first 4 miles or so until just past the Ticket and Transportation Center. At this point I was getting too warm in my gear. So I did a quick stop, popped off my hydration backpack and my Nike jacket. The jacket was too expensive to abandon so it got tied around my waist for the rest of the race.

At this point my guess from the first time I looked at my bib was confirmed. The holes were too close to the edge of the bib – I ripped one of holes out! I use a bib belt so I only use the top 2 holes and now one of them was buggered. But had listened to my intuition the night before and put some safety pins in my hydration backpack. One quick pin of the damaged corner to the bib belt and I was ready to move again. But probably lost a good 5 minutes or more here.

From there it was a short run into Magic Kingdom and that awesome turn around the corner to see the castle all lit up and glowing. Always a cool thing to see.

Then through Magic Kingdom and a quick stop to take a picture of Maleficent in her steampunk dragon form from the Festival of Fantasy parade (add picture). And then back out and keep on moving toward cone alley.

Steampunk Maleficent

 

For whatever reason cone alley didn’t seem as crowded this year – that was actually a theme for this race, the crowds weren’t too bad. This was a surprise since they also allowed an extra 2500 half marathon folks from the day before to move up to the marathon.

At this point I was approaching the Grand Floridian Resort. Mark Daniel (@lof4life2 on twitter) was one of the groomsmen cast members set up to greet the runners there. Mark is one of the presenters that Disney has been tapping to host various live streaming events from around the parks over the past year. He has a great energy and charisma on the screen! During the New Years Eve fireworks presentation live stream this year I had followed Mark on twitter and ended up being his 1000th follower. He had direct messaged me the next day or so thanking me for the follow and joked that next time I was in Disney World he would get me a Dole whip. I laughed and indicated that I would be down for the Goofy Challenge in just a few days. That was when he indicated that he would be one of the groomsmen on course. Pretty funny stuff.

So I needed to make sure I introduced myself, so around the Grand Floridian I started watching the sidelines very closely to see where they were set up and I quickly found them. I went up quickly and introduced myself to Mark before continuing on my way. Super cool.

I’m not exactly sure how I have lucked out on my twitter account the way I have, because in addition to chatting with Mark, I have also interacted with Steve Miller (@samhowzit) from Disney Parks blog and Stacey J Aswad (@staceyjaswad) from the Must Do Disney shows that play at all the Disney resorts at Disney World. One year, I even had Stacey give me a “run like the wind Ted” tweet! Disney nerd heaven there.

 Ok – back at it.

After mile 9, I noticed an older gentleman doing run/walk/run cycles – he would run in a diagonal pattern across the road and then do a little walk and then diagonal pattern back across the road in the other direction. Kind of interesting and it made me notice him amongst the other runners. I also noticed that he appeared to have a coke bottle hanging off of each hip and I figured this is my kind of runner!

I then started wondering if it was Olympian / runDisney legend Jeff Galloway (@JeffGalloway) – but I wasn’t sure and as I was trying to figure it out I lost track of where he was. I figured out later on twitter that it was actually him. Damn – missed opportunity to say hi to the legend.

Running continued without much event and we then did the tour around Animal Kingdom. This year the half way point was actually in Animal Kingdom which was a cool change. Interestingly they also had a big sign indicating where 13.1 was and there was a cast member there and it seemed about 5 or 6 people standing to the side who looked like they had been running but had now stopped. It made me wonder if they allowed the half marathon folks who managed to get one of the bump up to full spots to check out at that point. It would be a cool thing for runDisney to do but I don’t know if they did or not.

Again a fairly drama free run from the Animal Kingdom on for a while. Although I did have to take my phone out of my carrying belt as it started to do the volume dance that it did the day before on the half marathon run – I ended up reseating the headphones in the jack and it worked well for the rest of the race. I did hold my phone in my hand the rest of the race just in case it did it again though.

I took another pit stop and ripped my bib again – yay! A quick fix and off again.

And then into ESPN – I think they added even more looping around ESPN World of Sports this year – it was cool and all but a little frustrating. After the cool run through the stadium I had to stop to take the rocks out of my shoes – happens to me every time! I don’t see other people impacted so it has to be the way I run. At this point it is part of my Walt Disney World Marathon race plan.

Back out on the highways for the run toward Hollywood Studios – I was definitely doing run/walk/run cycles by this point but at irregular times as my app on my phone decided to only occasionally give me the audibles to run or walk when it was time. I was tired at this point but not really feeling beat up – that was a nice surprise.

Shortly before making the exit toward Hollywood Studios there was an ambulance and they were loading a runner in. Hopefully he is ok. It does serve as a reminder that even though you are at Disney World a marathon is no joke.

Now Hollywood Studios – with all the construction going on there they changed the path through that park and unfortunately it was much shorter than the old path. But we did get to see different back stage areas which I always find fascinating and we got to run down Hollywood Boulevard which was not done before – so that was a definite positive.

Out of the park quickly and at my happy place. I have so many good memories with the family on the path between Hollywood Studios and Epcot and all the beautiful scenery as you pass the various resorts (especially the Yacht and Beach Clubs for me). I always get a spring in my step here. Frankly if runDisney were to ever remove this section of the marathon, I might stop going – this section is that important to me.

After the truly fun mile it was into Epcot for the final stretch. Through World Showcase and on toward Spaceship Earth. I love running up that stretch too – the fountains and the music and atmosphere. I take my headphones out here usually to get the full impact.

And then a quick cut past the bathrooms to the mile 26 marker and the gospel choir. Just 0.2 to go!

Just a quick steady pace down the homestretch and the oddest Goofy Challenge ever was done. #6 in the bag.

It wasn’t a fast time for me but I enjoyed myself and took it easy and I had zero issues with my Achilles tendon so this was a huge mark in the win column for me.

Marathon medal obtained as well as a runDisney mylar blanket to wrap in and grabbed a bottle of water walking toward the tent to get the Goofy Challenge medal.

First person asked if I had my Half Marathon medal yet – Nope – here you go – thanks. And then the next person gave me the Goofy Challenge medal – whoohoo!

Grabbed a quick picture with the medals and picked up the runDisney snack box before running out to the meeting area. I did a short wander around there but decided to head back out to the buses fairly quickly.

Back at the hotel, on the walk back to the room, I had a quick chat with a family whose daughter had run the full and they asked about the Goofy and what training for that is like and wondered why I was walking faster than they were. I do walk quickly but I found early on that if I do a lot of walking after a long run I recover so much faster, so the fast walk was part of my recovery plan.

Then back in the room, shower and a nap! I did a whole bunch of stuff in Epcot later in the day as well that I will put in another post so that should be come out either later today or tomorrow.

Next up – wandering Epcot in the cold and hitting two parks the next day before getting on the plane home!

2017 Goofy Challenge trip / race report – Day 3 – a very special half marathon

Alrighty – up at 7am – should have been over half done the Disney World half marathon by now but the weather cancellation that came through the night meant I got to sleep in. 

I lay in bed trying to figure out what I wanted to do and when I wanted to run my unofficial half marathon to get the miles in to make the Goofy Challenge legitimate. I looked at the weather radar and it looked like the worst of everything was going well north of where I was and would be for a while. Ok – let’s go. 

There was a light rain when I started out but at least it was warm out and the rain was fairly warm as well. So that was nice. 

I decided to wear the 2017 Disney World Half marathon shirt out for the run as a bit of a shout out to the cancelled race. I also put on my Nike Pegasus Shield runners to help with their waterproofing. 

My plan was to run around Saratoga Springs, find the nature path to the Old Key West Resort, run around that resort, run back to Saratoga Springs and then loop it again to make the necessary 13.1 miles. 

As soon as I headed out, I immediately started to run into other runners out doing the same thing – not many yet but by the time I was done the run there were runners everywhere! 

I started by doing a bit of a run around the resort in a random pattern – Saratoga Springs does have a designated running path but there are sidewalks all over the place so I didn’t follow the path, I just wandered with no set goals. 

After a half mile or so, I decided to try to find the path over to Old Key West to get away from any vehicle traffic. Disney really does not advertise the path, it wasn’t on any of the guide maps around the resort or on the Disney site that I could find. To find it I eventually resorted to an internet search and Google Maps. That added some time to my run. 

The path itself was nice running along beside a golf course on one side and a river/canal on the other. I met another runner or two out on that path and then even more in Old Key West. 

Old Key West is similar to Saratoga Springs in that there are side walks all over, so more wandering. At one point I realized that the path I was on looked familiar, yep, I had gotten lost and circled back. I turned around and ended up back on the path back to Saratoga Springs. 

After a few minutes the skies opened up and it got wet, very wet. Sheets of rain and no easy cover. I also heard some thunder at this point but saw no lightning. At this point I had to keep going since the only cover was trees (not a good idea in a lightning) or under a bridge. Troll jokes aside I’m not sure hiding under a bridge in Florida is the safest thing either considering the gator / snake warning signs along the canal. I eventually did see a shed I could have sheltered under but by that point the thunder had passed. 

I continued on and shared a few jokes with other runners going for a quick drowning and eventually the rain started to let up a bit. 

As the rain died off, more and more runners came out, several wearing their race bibs…wish I had thought of that! 

Every runner out there seemed to be in a great mood and everyone was cheering each other on. A super atmosphere! 

I kept running and decided to go off plan and run through Disney Springs as well – that was fun – only a few runners there but very little foot traffic since the shops weren’t open. But there were Disney cast members standing out at the doorways of several of the shops cheering on the runners. Definitely a cool vibe – it made up a bit for missing running through the parks. 

I then discovered that if you continue out to the parking lot on the west side of Disney Springs you end up at the natural trail out to Old Key West – alrighty – back out to Old Key West then. 

I was about half done my mileage at this point so I stopped to tweet that I was half done and probably needed to jump in the pool after the run in order to dry off. Still quite wet but the rain had definitely slacked off at this point. 

However my headphone internal volume controls had apparently taken on some water – volume all the way up, all the way down, skip song, all over the place. At one point the music had muted and had been for some time, I hadn’t noticed since I was enjoying the run in the rain…but then the volume came back full blast, during a DragonForce song. I literally jumped and my heart rate spiked! Holy crap…I took my headphones out at this point. 

The number of runners out kept increasing through the last half of the run. It was so cool to see runners of so many different levels out getting their miles in and cheering each other on. 

After another loop of Old Key West, I came back to Saratoga Springs and did another loop there before doing an out and back through Disney Springs. I got back to my hotel room at about 12.8 miles…damn…gotta keep going. So I did a few back and forth runs on the sideway by the hotel and ended up with a total of 13.18 miles. Cool – unofficial Walt Disney World Half Marathon done. 

After I got back to the room and had a long warm shower, I started to check twitter and saw that the unofficial half movement wasn’t isolated to Saratoga Springs. Other resorts were doing the same things and places like the Pop Century and Port Orleans Riverside resort even had cheering and water aid stations set up. Just bloody amazing. 

Resorts like the Pop and Riverside have very defined loops for running trails that helps set up designated spots for aid stations and the like and the runners don’t then get spread out as much. I was impressed with the atmosphere where I was but I can only imagine that that feeling was amplified at these resorts due to that concentration of runners. 

I am so impressed with the runDisney community. I said it in a tweet but I will say it again here – runDisney can give us venue but the community is what makes the runDisney events so special. The race cancellation was turned into something truly magical. 

At this point I should have gone to rest for a bit but I was starving since I hadn’t eaten before I ran. So I walked to Disney Springs (cheering runners along the way) and grabbed a sandwich at Earl of Sandwich. I then headed back to the room for a rest and now there was a cheer squad out cheering on runners at Saratoga Springs – super cool. 

Once back at the room and ended up sitting down to read some email…and lost an hour and a half. 

After my nap I was anxious to hit a park. Still so many runners out as I walked to the bus stop and caught the ride to Hollywood Studios. After a bit of wandering there and a ride on Star Tours and a late lunch I decided to do the walk from Hollywood Studios to Epcot. I would be doing that path on the marathon the next day but I wanted to do it once at a relaxing walk before the race. 

The path had so many runners out – even a few teams running together – just bloody awesome. They were near the Boardwalk Resort, near the Yacht and Beach Club resorts, running into Epcot. 

I tweeted about this as I wandered toward Epcot and got a response from Christina from @RunDisneyBelle that she was actually running in Epcot. I fired back that I was basically walking into Epcot at that point. 

As I wandered into the park and started crossing the bridge between England and France in World Showcase I recognized her running with @KnightBuilder65 and introduced myself to say hi. We had a quick chat about how cool it was that the so many people were getting their miles in. I didn’t want to take away from her run so we just had a short chat and I continued my wander as she continued her run. 

Super cool to meet yet another awesome runner this weekend! Christina also has an awesome recap from this cool day up on her site: The Glass Slipper Chronicles https://glassslipperchronicles.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/2017-diy-wdw-half-marathon/ After that I continued a wander through World Showcase (yay beer) and then had an early supper before heading out to the buses back to the hotel for an early night. 

Just a bloody cool day all around. That day made the trip worthwhile. 

Edit – Jan 14 – Just wanted to put in a quick other bit here. On the Friday night I was chatting with some folks on twitter who had a tough decision to make. They were Goofy Challenge runners who could probably PR the full marathon if they took it easy on Saturday. But they would still get in their half on the Monday. The conundrum they had was that Monday was their travel day out of Disney World and would they have enough time? Plus running a half the day after you beat yourself up with a full is probably harder mentally than doing the half the day before. Seeing everyone running around on the Saturday would have been tough too – it would have been hard to resist the atmosphere! I know there are probably a few runners who did this though – and I wanted to say congrats to those folks too!

Next up – Day 4 – the Walt Disney World Marathon – and I meet a cool Disney Cast Member in person.