I did it. After training for months, I completed the 2020 runDisney Dopey Challenge. I set my sights on this goal back in 2018 and just over 2 weeks ago, I crossed 4 finish lines: a 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon. 48.6 magical miles through 4 Disney World parks over 4 days.
I recapped the 5K, 10K and Castaway Cay Challenge in my last post, so today I’m moving on to the half marathon! I’ve run 11 runDinsey half marathons and each one is awesome in its own way. I’m excited to share my thoughts and feelings on my 11th Disney half!
Half Marathon – 13.1 miles
The vibe going into the half marathon was a little different than the previous two races for several reasons.
- First of all, it’s the first of the bigger distances during Dopey weekend. A half marathon itself is a great feat and accomplishment, but knowing that a full marathon was the following morning made running a smart race even more important.
- Second, the weather was not ideal. After nice, cool mornings for the 5K and 10K, we dealt with 70 degrees and high humidity the morning of the half. Knowing that it was just going to get warmer didn’t help!
For this race, we ran as Mickey, Daisy and Donald! JP joined us for the half and I came up with his costume last minute. Thank goodness for Amazon and Hobby Lobby! I added the circles to his shorts and created his ears using a bandana and some thick foam. Meanwhile my Daisy skirt is an old one of Rachael’s and Rachael’s skirt was made by Dottie for Running.
For the most part, this course is similar to the Princess half marathon races that I have run in the past. We started in our usual spot, ran through a lot of Disney highways and made our way to Magic Kingdom. Then we looped back around by the resorts and golf courses back to Epcot. There were a few changes due to construction, but overall I enjoyed it!
This was my second time to run the Disney World Half Marathon, the first time being in 2016.
We started this race in Corral E. The corrals go from A to H with corrals A to E being smaller corrals, and F-H getting larger as the corrals progress. I highly suggest having a proof of time to submit when signing up for a runDisney race because if you don’t, you’ll be starting in the last corral.
The race started promptly on time at 5:30am! It was roughly 15 minutes before we crossed the starting line and were on our way. Our plan for this race was to use the Galloway run/walk method with 4:30 running and 1:30 walking intervals. Since Rachael and I were running a marathon the next morning, we needed to run smart.
Not even a half mile into the race we spotted Esmeralda! She is such a rare character and I’ve never seen her on a course before, so we were happy to stop.
After our photo, we got back into our running rhythm and continued on our way. We were not even a mile in afterall! I think that’s the earliest I’ve seen a character on the half marathon course.
Most of the course until mile 5 is on highways around Walt Disney World. There are banked turns on overpasses and some hill, but the course is mostly flat and fairly wide during this stretch. Thank goodness for the width because there are lots of runners around at the beginning of the race!
Just before mile 5, you enter Magic Kingdom and run down Main Street USA straight towards Cinderella’s Castle. It’s just the burst of energy and excitement you need at that point! From there you turn right into Tomorrowland and on towards Fantasyland. There were a few characters out, but nothing we were dying to stop for.
Then you get to run through Cinderella’s Castle! It’s the best even if it’s a little crowded and chaotic. We snapped a photo in front of the castle of course!
Once past the castle, we continued on towards Liberty Square where we saw Colonial Minnie! Y’all, I’ve NEVER seen this fabulous Minnie. Not once, so we pulled aside and waited to meet her. It took 10-12 minutes, but was worth it for the photo! Not to mention, JP was able to take a potty break at a nearby restroom and Rachael and I grabbed some water at the water fountain.
After this photo, we knew that we were going to part ways. Rachael needed to slow down a little bit and I needed to pick it up a little bit. While we LOVE running together, we do run slightly different paces and struggle with different weather. While I struggle in the extreme cold, Rachael struggles with the heat.
The plan was to continue on and text when JP and I stopped at characters in hopes of being able to get photos together!
Now even though I wanted to speed up a bit, it was super important for us to be conservative with our speed given the heat and marathon the following day. I changed my intervals to run 5:00/ walk 1:00 which is what I did on my training runs at home. JP was just along for the ride and did whatever I did!
Shortly after leaving Magic Kingdom, we spotted Daisy in her fabulous fancy dress. I was dressed as Daisy and I needed my Donald for this photo, so thank goodness Rachael wasn’t too far behind!
This part of the race is always interesting to me. It’s nice to run by the resorts because you still feel like you’re at Disney, but after the high of Magic Kingdom, you wish you were back in the park! Also, this portion of the course is pretty narrow for a while. Luckily there usually aren’t as many people around me at this point, but it feels crowded with the smaller lanes.
After a while it opens back up and I feel free again! Around mile 9, I was desperate for a potty stop. (Hello, I’ve had two babies, what can I do?)
Next we came up to the infamous overpass where you have to make a banked turn going uphill. You feel it all in your knee, ankles and lungs while you trudge up this crazy hill. Usually the green army men are there yelling at you and cheering you on, but I was disappointed that they were nowhere to be seen this year!
Luckily after this hill, you can see the Epcot Spaceship Earth ball and you know you’re about to enter the park and finish the race!
After mile 11, we ran through the Epcot parking lot and started our way behind the scenes of the park by mile 11.5. This part of the course was different this year because of all the construction going on at Epcot. I was bummed that they weren’t taking photos in front of Spaceship Earth, so we made sure to snap a selfie! The photo below was right around mile 12.5. We were on a roll and feeling ready to be done with this race.
As we circled around Epcot and drew near to the finish line, we could hear the cheering of the crowds and some awesome music. Y’all, it was Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off and THAT. IS. MY. JAM! They were playing my song as I was coming into the finish. I was literally dancing with joy and speeding up as JP was telling me to slow my roll because he wasn’t ready to sprint.
We crossed the finish line hand in hand, but I was bummed that they didn’t get any really good shots of the two of us together. The one above will do! You can see that I was literally living my best life and feeling like a rockstar!
After the race, JP needed some Biofreeze for his shins and one of the medical attendants asked him multiple times if he was sure he didn’t need ice. I told him finally to just say yes and get the ice! It was kind of funny in the moment because she was so adamant.
We snapped our finisher photo together, got our snacks and headed to the post race festivities. Fun fact, JP and I ran the Disney World Half Marathon together back in 2016. It was my first race post baby and he was my biggest support system. You can read all about the race and check out JP’s awesome costume also made by yours truly.
I hopped in the line to meet Donald where Rachael met up with me just 10 minutes or so later! JP went to the room to shower and head to Hollywood Studios with Rachael’s husband Joe while Rachael and I had a slow, relaxing, food-filled day ahead of us.
If you made it this far, BRAVO and THANK YOU for reading! I want to remember every part of this experience which means writing out and recalling the runs as much as I can. Writing about the half was fun but I CANNOT wait to share about the full. There are TONS of photos and feelings that are sure to be included. I’ll be back Monday with the marathon recap!
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Such a great place to visit!
I loved reading about your 5K, 10K and Castaway Cay races! I can’t wait to read about the full marathon!
Thank you so much! I’m glad that you enjoyed them. They were SO MUCH FUN to run!!!
Your amazing!! I used to be a NFL cheerleader so I was pretty fit in my day, but running for distance was never my thing. It always blows my mind when people run marathons and half marathons! Thanks for sharing!
An NFL cheerleader!? That’s amazing! I was a competitive cheerleader in high school and college! At the end of college, I got into running and fell in love!
This is so cool! I did a half marathon in 2014. Idk if I would ever do it again, but I would love to return to running in general. Way to go! I’m a huge Disney fanatic, so that would be a blast.
I’m a Disney fanatic too! It’s just the best! They also have 5Ks and 10Ks if you ever get back to running. I feel like those distances are more manageable. Plus the 10K course is my favorite as it goes through Epcot all around World Showcase and even around the Boardwalk!
I am so happy for you. You must feel so accomplished. Running is something I struggle with and it is a dream of mine to complete in any kind of organized run. Your post is very inspirational.
thank you Kimberlie! Running is definitely not for everyone and I know that most of my family thinks I’m crazy! A 5K would be an awesome way for you to slowly get into running at your own pace and find how running works for you! That’s where I started about 12 years ago and I haven’t looked back!