runDisney Royal Family 5k 2014

I was so excited when my mom told me she wanted all four of us to run the runDisney 5k together during Princess half weekend.

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My dad had never participated in a runDisney race, so I was of course up for it when she suggested we run together. Mom picked out our “costumes” months in advance, and all we had to do was wait for the day of the race.

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We knew we would be easy to spot in our green shirts if we lost each other in the crowd. We got up early, headed down to the busses, and were pleasantly surprised!

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We didn’t have to wait for a bus, we just hopped right on. I explained to my dad this race was WAY smaller than the half, so it would be a lot less congested on all fronts, including the busses.

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When we arrived we were able to meet up with Karen and her family. All four of them were running, too!

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Eye see you!

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Soon it was time to walk to the start, which is thankfully a much shorter walk than for the half and full.

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The race quickly began, and we started out into the EPCOT parking lot. I told my family we needed to get through the first (boring) mile quickly, then we could relax and soak it all in once we got into Epcot, and would hopefully not get trapped in a huge mess of people.

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We made it, mile one done, and into EPCOT we go! We continued with a run/walk, just taking our time enjoying the surroundings.

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The character lines were WAY too long to stop at, so we just waved and continued on around the World Showcase and towards Spaceship Earth, which looked beautiful with the rising sun.

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A nice cast member took our family photo in front of it, and we were almost done!

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We wrapped around Spaceship Earth and I could hear the finish! We all wanted to finish together in a row, and luckily it wasn’t very crowded so we were able to do so. With a special family shout out from Carissa, we crossed the finish line together. Hooray! Mom and dad did great!

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Final thoughts:

-I love how non-crowded this race felt compared to the half and full’s I have done with runDisney. No port-o-potty lines, walked right into our corral, everything was much “quicker” if that makes sense. It was also nice not having to get up at 2:45! (The race began at 6:15 but busses picked us up until 5 or so, so we slept till 4!)

-I did notice a lack of characters on course like I did at the 5k during Dopey, which was a little disappointing.  The 2012 5k had so many, it was awesome!

-Epcot is beautiful as the sun comes up, and I love that they have the torches lit around World Showcase.

-The finish line is just as magical, lots of cheering, lots of fun!

QOTD: Have you ever participated in a fun run?

Dopey Challenge 2014: Half Marathon Recap

My alarm went off….again…at 2:45. I was beginning to feel a bit like Groundhog Day! I put on my Dopey costume, ate a banana and a clif bar, and we were ready to go tackle the runDisney half marathon.

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Note: I originally was going to wear this outfit for the full but switched when I found out today, for the half, it was going to be the warmer of the two days, and since my other costume had arm and leg sleeves, I wanted to wear it on the cooler day.

Bobby loved his new Under Armor shirt!

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We hopped on a bus right at 4:00, and headed to EPCOT. It was nice not being freezing cold walking to the corrals like I have done before, but that also meant it would be a warmer race. We made it into corral K and waited. We sat down because we knew we wouldn’t start until about 35 minutes after the gun went off and I wanted to save my legs.

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it was finally our turn!

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The beginning of the race, if I am being perfectly honest…was a nightmare. Because they placed Dopey runners in corrals based on their MARATHON time then tacked time onto that, everyone was pushed back that did Dopey. I am a much faster half runner than full runner, so for the half I was in a corral with people who had never even run a half marathon before. Again, I am NOT trying to sound like I should have been in front, no way, but based on my half finish times, I should have been in C or D, not K. I wanted to cry the first mile and a half. We literally came to a standstill a few times and I ran on the grass as much as I could where it was safe. So many bottle necks, I just wanted to get out in front of the congestion and have some breathing room.

Finally, when we got almost to the Magic Kingdom signs, the crowds thinned, but unfortunately I would face many more bottle necks to come.

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I love this guy they put on top of the bridge, he is always so much fun yelling to all the runners.

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We finally made it to the Magic Kingdom, and I was bummed that the icicle lights were not on the castle.

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We stopped at the bathrooms in Tomorrowland where I ran into these two!

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Linzie and Kat

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We made our way through a very crowded Magic Kingdom, and were soon back out onto the road. My IT band had started twinging during the 10k the day before, so I wasn’t surprised when it started to bug me here. I stopped at the med tent after Magic Kingdom and got some Tylenol.

We went through more crowded areas heading down the road towards the Grand Floridian and ran mostly in the grass. It opened up again near the speedway, and we saw this fun guy, which was very hard to get a good picture of due to the wind.

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We kept on trucking, doing run walk intervals at a comfortable pace, and made it to the mile ten marker, just a 5k to go….oh and then a marathon haha. We tried to conserve energy so we took it easy going up the overpasses, and were finally in EPCOT!

I picked up the pace because I was so excited and like to finish strong, but Bobby was wanting to hold back. It was so hard for me to slow down, but I’m sure it helped us the next day.

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We made it to mile 13, and I could hear the finish line, woo hoo!

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We crossed at 2:43, 3 races down, one really big one to go! (and mileage wise, we still were not half way, yikes!)

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I celebrated with a post race mimosa, of course.

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We actually stayed until the very last person crossed the finish line, which was surprisingly way after the 16:00 per mile sweeper pace. Either way, it was really fun to see and cheer on everyone to the very end. I screamed my lungs out, and shed a few tears along with the runners that were crying as the crossed the finish line. It was so inspiring and so much fun!

We chose not to go to a park this day, and instead opted for a nap and hanging out at the hotel. It was a good decision!

Final thoughts: I LOVE this course, and running through the Magic Kingdom is my favorite. 9Secretly hoping they change it up a bit to run through new Fantasyland though!) There were plenty of aid stations, amazing volunteers, med tents, and bathrooms. The actual race was put on very well. I did notice a lack of characters though, which led to even longer lines at the ones that were out (we didn’t stop for any).

I do hope they will either reduce the number of runners, or give Dopey’s a bib for the half and a bib for the full so they can be in the correct corral for each (I was in the correct corral for the full, but I’m terrible at fulls so the time they based my half placement off of was my estimated finishing time for the full, yikes). Coming to a standstill during a race is never fun. I also heard that a lot of people were dishonest about their finishing times, and that track shack did not actually verify the times, hence a lot of people in places they did not belong which I’m sure made the problem even worse. I felt bad for the people in the alter corrals who wanted character pictures, because the lines were so long since there were not many characters out.

Overall this race holds a special place in my heart because it was my very first half marathon in 2010, and it is my favorite course so I know I will come back and run it, just not as a Dopey.

QOTD: Have you ever watched the very end of a race?

*Winner of my Under Armour giveaway is Rachel V! Please email me with your address so I can get your prize to you!

 

 

 

 

2013 Disney Marathon Recap Part 2

I left off part one of the Disney marathon with us leaving the speedway and heading into the more low key part of the race where we were running on back roads and by the water treatment plant (which luckily didn’t smell terrible like in 2011!) We kept an eye out for characters and were able to stop and get a few good photos on this long stretch. The first up is one of my favorite photos from the race. Its villain time!

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They were a hoot, I loved the smoke, and can you see scar chilling up in the background? We soldiered on and found well, a soldier! Along with some other Christmas friends. Although I must say, the weather wasn’t feeling very Christmas-y in the 70’s.

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Ahead of our winter time friends, we found a couple of pirates, aaarrrgghhh!

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Just around the riverbend….eeerrr…water treatment facility, we found Pocahontas, John Smith and Meeko! I love that little guy.

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After we bid them farewell, there were tables full of bananas for us, yes! My one (very small) complaint was the banana table was IMMEDIATELY followed by a water stop. I was trying to choke down my food so that I could drink some water, it would have been better to have the water stop a tad bit further down so I could have time to eat. But again, very very VERY small complaint in an otherwise awesome race! I wasn’t sure how my body would react to eating a banana mid run, but I did fine, and think it really helped give me a boost.

We kept going and were soon greeted with some animal friends as we came into Animal Kingdom. We had to stop and take a photo with this guy. I think he liked me way more than Bobby.

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They had birds, a sheep, and even a SNAKE, gross! I decided to pass on a photo with that one. It was nice to be in Animal Kingdom and have another park to run though. I told Bobby to watch his footing because the ground in there was a bit uneven. Bobby had to make yet another bathroom stop (number 3 so far for him, seriously!?!?) So I decided to stop and stretch while I waited. He had told me to keep going, but it was so crowded in the park I was afraid I would lose him. We were back to running before I knew it, and we passed Everest right as they were opening it, and there were some runners there waiting to ride. Too funny!

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We were back out onto the road all too soon, and knew we had another bit of a stretch before getting to the Wide World of Sports. Luckily, we found a little entertainment along the way.

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We started passing signs with great quotes on them, and they really gave me a boost. This one is a favorite, and I knew it was on the Mickey Marathon medal, so I had to stop and get a picture.

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We also ran into these guys, this may be my favorite photo of the race.

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Bobby didn’t realize the ground was still wet so his back was all dirty after, oops. Up ahead, we could see people heading back towards us, then turning to their right going onto a different road. I was confused, because I knew we still had to go to Wide World of Sports, so I thought maybe I was just turned around. There had to be a turn around up ahead soon. Then I noticed a medical tent on the other side of the road, and we had just passed one, so I thought well….we have to go far enough down to justify another medical tent. Little did I know we had many miles to go before we would be those people running back the other way! We turned right, and then right again into the Wide World of Sports complex.

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We soon hit a track, and it was SO NICE to run on a different surface, my feet instantly felt better and I wished we could run the rest of the race on a track. We wound around the complex some more, stopped for ANOTHER bathroom break, and headed into the baseball stadium. I was excited for this part, because running through Angel Stadium was my favorite part of the Disneyland half marathon, and I was hoping there would be just as many fans and it would be loud and fun.

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Well, it was cool to run around the inside of the stadium, however there were few fans inside, most not even cheering, so I think I inflated that one way too much in my head.

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Soon we were back out of the stadium, and heading around another baseball field. I found it was odd that the players out on the field were staring at something behind home plate. We made our way around, and finally realized what was going on. There was a girl on the ground in the middle of the course with a bag of ice on her head, Disney workers running around, people around her etc. Someone hit a foul ball back over behind the fence and it hit her on the head! I felt so bad for her, this far into the race. What are the odds??!? I hope she is ok and got to finish.

Up ahead we saw an inflated Mickey balloon that we had seen in the distance coming into the complex, and knew we were getting close to the mile 20 surprise. For a minute I was thinking “is that it?” But we weren’t quite to twenty yet. I think Mickey was tired and needed a nap.

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We made a couple more turns and I got really excited, knowing we had to be close to mile twenty. At least it kept my mind off of running! Finally, we could see up ahead, some really cool looking puppets, a neat banner with all 20 medals on it, and a stage with some Disney characters. Neat! It was really cool, but to be honest I think Disney made such a big deal out of the secret surprise that people were expecting something crazy. If they would have been more low key about it, I would have thought it was a really neat addition, that’s the only way i can think to explain it.

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Of course we had to stand in line for a picture with Minnie, Mickey, and Pluto…even though it was super long. Bobby sat on the curb as we waited and some lady in a very concerned voice asked if he was ok and I started laughing, lots of things I could have said in response.

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Three people before it was our turn, the characters left nnnoooo! However we did get Goofy which was neat since we were running Goofy’s Challenge.

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I told Bobby to take a picture of me under the arch/banner, and he kind of failed.

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Um…you can’t even see the arch. I think he was getting delirious.

Luckily, we finally made it back to “the turn” where we thought we “couldn’t be that far from” and were now heading in the other direction with runners coming towards us. I felt bad for them, still several miles back, not knowing they were nowhere near the turn around, the same way I had felt just a few miles ago.

We got off the exit ramp, and I knew we were not that far from Hollywood Studios. We stopped at every med tent for Biofreeze and sometimes Tylenol, and Bobby took another bathroom stop (number 5, oh yes. I have no idea how he was able to go with the amount I was sweating I only had to twice!)

We went up a ramp and up in the distance I could see people turning right into Hollywood Studios. We were in the home stretch and I knew we would make it. We had the distraction of running in Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk, then EPCOT, and then the finish line! I was starting to get excited. I also knew we were about to get candy! I grabbed two pieces of chocolate as we went by.

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This is where Bobby started to struggle with his legs and feet. I could tell he was hurting so I kept turning around yelling for him to come on, and that we only had a few miles to go, you know, like a short training run. I felt badly for him because I felt so good, like I could have just sprinted those last few miles to the end. Sure my body was aching and wanted to stop, but otherwise I felt fine. I looked at my Garmin for one of the first times all day, and saw it was possible to break six hours if we pushed. We decided not to stop for more characters (the lines were super long anyway) and see what we could do.

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We wound our way through the studios, me in front and Bobby a few yards behind. I had to keep turning around and giving him “the look” to get him to keep going. I knew he had it in him, and that we were SO CLOSE. I started having flashbacks to 2011, this is the same mile marker where Bobby started having Hamstring trouble and we had to basically walk the last 3-4 miles of the race. I started praying that God would help the pain to go away so we could finish strong.

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Notice Bobby behind me, poor thing.

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As we started heading out of the Studios, I started thinking about the first time I was here during a race. It was 2009, and I was here with Karen watching our friends run the marathon. Back then, I knew nothing about marathons or running really in general, and thought these folks were nuts. However, after watching the determination in their faces, and all of the strangers cheering them on, I knew it was something I wanted to do…something I HAD to do. Karen and I vowed to come back and run the half the next year, and we did! Followed by the full the next, and here I was….four years from that day, running Goofy’s Challenge. This girl. I couldn’t believe it. As we got closer and closer to “inspiration curve” as I now call it, I started to get a little chocked up. I was really doing it. Something I honestly never thought I could accomplish, and I was doing it with a smile on my face. I was doing ok, and then all of the sudden Bobby breaks the silence and says “here’s your inspiration curve honey, this is where you stood, and you are DOING IT! You’re here, and you are really doing this!” That’s all it took, I couldn’t hold it in anymore, and I cried a few happy tears.

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Inspiration curve, where I stood to watch the 2009 Disney Marathon, right outside the gates of the Studios.

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I gathered myself together, and we headed onto the path to the Boardwalk.

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Jen had been texting me, and I knew she would be waiting for us outside the Beach Club. She let me know exactly where they were, and it was the boost I needed to get me from Hollywood Studios to the other side of the Boardwalk. We got close to where she was and I was looking and looking and finally saw her and her son and parents! They had all come out to cheer us on, so so sweet. (Next two photos taken by Jen)

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I was SO excited to see her, and gave her a big sweaty hug and thanked her for coming out. She told us to keep going we were so close, and I blew kisses to their family and we took off again. It was great to have our own cheerleaders out on the course, especially so close to the end.

Right after seeing them, we were heading into EPCOT. This was IT, we were so close, and could still make it under six hours. We started around the World Showcase, and I enjoyed watching everyone as we went by. Honestly, this part was kind of a blur to me, I was so focused on running strong and getting to the end, I really don’t remember a whole lot.

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When we passed the Mexico Pavilion and Spaceship Earth was in sight, I told Bobby we were doing it, we were almost there, and how awesome he was doing to run through the pain.

There were some amazing spectators/cheerleaders those last few tenths that really lifted my spirits.

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I had a HUGE smile on my face as we came to the gospel choir. I wanted to remember everything, soak it all in. With the crowd roaring around us, we went around a turn, and I looked up and saw that beautiful finish line.

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That home stretch went in slow motion. The crowd was on their feet, the music was blaring, I was about to get my Goofy medal. Was this real? Surly not the girl when ran the 100 meter dash in high school. Surely not the girl who dreaded the timed mile in P.E. class. 39.3 miles in two days? Oh yes, it was real, and I couldn’t be more proud.

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I grabbed Bobby’s hand, my partner in crime, who has stood by me, trained with me, and completed this journey with me, and we crossed that glorious finish line together.

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Not only did we finish in an upright position which was my only goal, but we broke six hours running a 5:58, (including tons of character stops mind you!) but we also have a shiny new PR to go with our medals.

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I couldn’t believe we did it, and I couldn’t believe it was over. It was time to get my medals. God is so good. We were under trained, slightly injured, and He still brought us through. I am so thankful.

We high fived some friends at the finish, and that beautiful marathon medal was put around my neck. It truly is so gorgeous, my absolute favorite and will be hard to beat. We grabbed our water, banana, etc. and there was a lady yelling that we had to have our drink open by time we got to her and start drinking. I couldn’t get mine open so she had to do it for me! We then high tailed it straight to the Goofy tent, it was time for another moment I had been waiting a long time for. We were both given our medals and were told congratulations by the wonderful volunteers. Now, it was time to celebrate!

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We had left our bags in the media tent so we had to climb over a barricade (even though we were told not to, sorry!) to get over there. We took some photos

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ate some breakfast (Bobby claimed it was the best omelet ever, but I think we were just starving!)

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and celebrated with some mimosas in the VIP tent.

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We sat outside the tent on some stools and watched the other runners come in. I absolutely loved this part. Watching the emotion on their faces as runner after runner streamed in, most smiling, some crying. It was amazing.

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After a couple of hours it was time to head back to the hotel, we had lingered long enough, but didn’t want this special experience to really be over. Here are some final thoughts on the race:

Organization: Great as always. Plenty of bathrooms, volunteers, signs, barricades, busses, etc. It’s great not having to worry about the little details!

Expo: Fabulous when I went on Thursday, however I know most merchandise was gone by Friday evening, someone didn’t order enough. Oops.

Aid Stations: Awesome! The volunteers were all so friendly, and there were plenty of them! I felt very hydrated, and loved the Clif shot and banana (and candy!) stations. Well done.

On Course entertainment: I love all the characters, they were a fun distraction, I just wish the lines weren’t as long! The more people that get added onto the course, the longer the lines are going to get. Also loved running through the parks and was so happy to see the icicle lights were still on the castle. Amazing. Mile 20 surprise was cute but a little underwhelming considering all the hype.

Medals: amazing. Truly amazing. I am obsessed with the marathon medal. I know I said I wouldn’t do goofy again, but I can’t imagine how cool the next goofy anniversary medal will look!

Weather: Obviously not in Disney’s control, I mean, it was JANUARY after all. The high for the day was around 81 I think, but honestly I didn’t think it was that bad. It was probably in the mid 70’s when we finished. I remember it being very humid when we started, but once the sun came up the humidity went down. True it was warm and I am sure it affected everyone’s times, (and we sweated a lot!) But I was never of the mindset that it was so miserable I wasn’t going to make it. I took water and Powerade at EVERY aid station, wore sunglasses and sunscreen, and dumped water on my head a couple of times. I have run much hotter races before, and I think Disney did a great job of handling it for those who didn’t know what they were getting into.  The had heat advisories everywhere, the sponges at mile 18 were nice, as were the folks at the water stops dumping water on peoples heads. The med tents had sunscreen, and well there isn’t really much else you can do! They did well with the weather cards we were dealt. I was very pleased with how much energy I felt I had at the end despite the weather, and know between heat and character stops, I could have run a lot faster, it’s a great confidence booster!

Overall: runDisney, you did it again. I don’t know how you keep outdoing yourself, but it’s happened. I loved everything about marathon weekend, there was so much hype, fun, and electricity. I know it takes an army to plan and run this thing, and I am so grateful. I applaud you for a job well done, and I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve next. Thanks for putting on such an amazing event, where truly every mile is magic.

QOTD: Ok, who wants to run a runDisney race now? Does this recap convince you? Tell me yes please!