Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap – The Race That Wasn’t

Walt Disney World Half Marathon RecapHere is the Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap! Or rather the Run 13.1 miles On Your Own Recap. If you haven’t read Part I and Part II of the Dopey Challenge posts, you may want to start there just to get caught up. Otherwise, I will give you the quick and dirty version of The Race That Wasn’t. Throughout Friday we were checking the weather and we knew that the Saturday morning forecast called for heavy rain and possible lightning. runDisney had been sending out weather updates via Twitter and we were just hoping for the best. But as we were heading to bed the night before the Half Marathon, we received the update that the Half Marathon had been cancelled due to the thunderstorm forecast. Ugh.Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap

Since we were at Disney World to complete the Dopey Challenge which required us to run all four races (5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon), right away we knew that we would be running the 13.1 miles on our own so that we could earn our Dopey Medals with pride. Since there was nothing we could do about it that night, we turned our insanely early alarm off and went to bed.

Waking up around 6 AM the next morning, the weather seemed ok and only slightly drizzly, although thunder could be heard in the distance. It definitely didn’t seem like race cancellation worthy weather, but I also recognize that with such a large number of runners spread out along the open road, runDisney has a responsibility to ensure participant’s safety that led them to be especially cautious. And besides, we weren’t going to dwell on the decision, since it was already made.

The Unconventional Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap

We decided to google the best running trails in Disney World and were happy to find that Disney and New Balance had partnered to map out several running trails of various distances throughout the World. Through Twitter, I also read that runners were congregating all over Disney World and even throughout Orlando to complete their own Donald Half Marathons. People were even running their miles on resort treadmills! We decided to get dressed in the clothes we were originally going to wear for the race and head out for 13.1 miles, using our phones to map our distance as we ran. To help make the miles a little more interesting, we planned to split our run between two areas- 7 miles at the Port Orleans Resort before making the quick drive to the Boardwalk area where we would complete the final 6.1 miles. So we hopped in the van and off we went to drive to Port Orleans.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap – Port Orleans Resort

When we arrived at Port Orleans, I wrapped my phone in a ziploc bag to protect it from the rain and we made our way to the running trail which meanders along the river and connects both the Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter Resorts. It was absolutely amazing, but there were already lots of people out doing exactly what we were- running the miles they had signed up for. Many were running in the Donald race shirt, some with their actual race bibs on and some were even in costume. Not only that, there were whole groups of people out for the sole purpose of cheering on all of us. There was even makeshift water stops where people had dragged out cases of water bottles to offer to runners. I couldn’t help but feel emotional for so much human kindness and goodness.Walt Disney World Half Marathon RecapWalt Disney World Half Marathon RecapWalt Disney World Half Marathon RecapSince the trail here is fairly short, we passed the same runners over and over which allowed us to actually cheer people on while we were also being cheered on. We may not have been running the race we thought we were going to do, but in the end we were experiencing something so unique and wonderful that we couldn’t help but feel grateful for the bad weather. And the grounds of the the Port Orleans Resort are absolutely gorgeous with the added bonus of several bathroom stops at the various quiet pools. The miles flew by, and before we knew it we had completed 7 miles. Even though we were loving running at Port Orleans, we decided to stick with our original plan and head to the Boardwalk area for our final miles.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap – Boardwalk Area

After parking, we headed to the Boardwalk and were happy to find that an impromptu Disney Half Marathon was taking place there as well. There were dozens of runners out braving the chilly rain to get their miles done and people were lining the boardwalk to cheer and pass out water. The wait staff from the ESPN club were also out passing out cups filled with water. Since it is easy to piece together loops around the Boardwalk, Beach Club and Yacht Club hotels and add to loops around the Swan and Dolphin Hotels as well as the walkway between Epcot and Disney Studios, it is an ideal place to get a long run in. Even with the chilly temps and cloudy skies, the atmosphere was throughly cheerful and once again we cheered other runners and they cheered for us. We made quick work of the 6 miles we had left, and pretty soon we had completed our own Walt Disney World Half Marathon. It was such a fun morning and a great way to complete the miles for the Dopey Challenge.Walt Disney World Half Marathon RecapWalt Disney World Half Marathon RecapWalt Disney World Half Marathon RecapWalt Disney World Half Marathon RecapWalt Disney World Half Marathon RecapWalt Disney World Half Marathon RecapWhen we finished, we headed into the Yacht Club to warm up and eat lunch. Dave loved his clam chowder in a bread bowl and I scarfed down a flatbread pizza and a decadent chocolate peanut butter cupcake along with chocolate milk. YUM!Walt Disney World Half Marathon RecapWriting this Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap has been so much fun because reminiscing about such a fantastic day makes me recall how special it was. When we first heard the Half Marathon had been cancelled, I was pretty sad but it ended up being one of my favorite memories during Marathon Weekend and the Dopey Challenge. And Day 3 was now finished as we could check off the Half Marathon as done.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap and the runDisney Resolution Options

So the Half Marathon was cancelled, but as I said before we LOVED our improvised race. But runDisney still went above and beyond to make amends for the cancelled race. First off, the medals for the Donald Half Marathon would be awarded to us after the full marathon along with the Goofy and Dopey Medals. As part of the Dopey Challenge, we had a couple other options offered as well that we needed to decide on.

  1. We could transfer the race registration to another runDisney race within the next 2 years at no additional cost.
  2. We could get a refund for the Half Marathon fee ($180) via Disney Gift Card (this is what we chose)

If only registered for the Half Marathon, there were additional options of either  Two 1 day park hopper tickets in lieu of a refund which is a nice gesture for those who suddenly had a free day instead of a race to run or the option to transfer to the full marathon the next day at no additional cost.

I feel like runDisney was more than fair with these options and I very much appreciated all they did to communicate them to us. As Disney races are so pricey, it is good to know that you aren’t out of luck if there are issues with the race.

Next up is the big day – The Walt Disney World Marathon Recap!

 

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I love to plan family travel adventures with our four kids. Encouraging time in nature, National Parks travel, backpacking and hiking are my passions and I love to write about them.

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