by Liz Driscoll
On September 29th, I participated in my first runDisney event. A friend of mine invited me to sign up for the “Disney Happy Haunted 5K” so we could do it together. I looked into the details and after seeing no time minimum and, to be honest, the medal (yay!), I signed up!
The first step was to sign up online. Signing up was quick and easy! Then, on Friday, September 28th, we went to ESPN Wide World of Sports to pick up our race packets. The lines were fairly short to turn in your paperwork and receive your bib, shirt, and race information. We also spent a bit of time going through the different vendor displays at the expo.
The next step was a little more difficult. We pre pinned our bib numbers to our shirts and laid out our clothes before going to sleep. Then we got up at 4:45am. Yep, 4:45am! We got ready and were at the bus depot around 5:30am. We did not want to rush to catch the last bus at 6:00am. The charter buses runDisney uses were very comfortable. Our bus quickly filled up and we were off to ESPN Wide World of Sports! Once we arrived we still needed to walk up and through the ESPN area to get to the field to find our corral.
On the field was an enormous pumpkin Mickey. The photographer was there so we got into line. Oddly enough… the photographer excused himself and never returned! We made the best of it and took turns taking pictures with the group in front of us.
We were in Corral E, so we would be the last group to start. This was due to signing up late. The 5K was to begin at 7:00am. We began a few minutes late. They announced that they were waiting for sunrise since the route is mostly through the woods, which were not lit. There was music and entertainment while we waited. Then, finally, the people in Corral A were allowed to start!
By the time Corral E stepped off, the fastest runners from Corral A were crossing the finish line! We didn’t mind. We were in this for fun! It was about five minutes of slow walking to thin out the group. Then we could walk at our own pace.
On the route, there were a few characters available for meet and greet. We had the Big Bad Wolf, the pirate’s ship, B’rer Bear, and the gravediggers! The lines were pretty long and we decided to take character pictures but not wait in the lines. The sun was quickly heating up the air and it was getting hot!
At each mile marker there were drink stations. There were volunteers holding out water for everyone to stay hydrated. We took water at each mile marker to make sure we stayed hydrated.
As we came out of the woods, we knew we were almost done. We met up with another friend who had slowed down because her knee was bothering her. We all slowed down a little and crossed the finish line together.
After crossing the finish line, we received our medals and had our picture taken. We received Powerade, water, a banana and a snack box. We hadn’t run a marathon, but we had been up for quite a while and we were hungry!
We headed back to the bus pick up area soon after finishing because we had lunch plans. It was easy to find our bus stop. We were disappointed that we were told the buses were running every 8-10 minutes, yet we waited about half an hour. I was nice that the buses did not make multiple stops so we went right to our resort.
Overall, my first runDisney experience was very positive. I would consider driving over to the race finishing area so that I could avoid waiting for the bus back to the resort, but it wasn’t something that would stop me from using the bus again.
If you haven’t tried a runDisney event yet, you should! The 5K is very doable and it is something in which the whole family can participate.
Liz Driscoll went to Walt Disney World for the first time when she was five years old, though her Disney passion began seven years ago. She has visited Walt Disney World about twelve times in the past seven years. In the non-Disney world, she is a teacher who enjoys bringing a little bit of pixie dust in the classroom each day!