The Walt Disney World Half Marathon is the first half of the Goofy Challenge, with the second half being the Walt Disney World Marathon on the following day.
The day of the half marathon starts with an alarm just before 3:00 a.m. I quickly get dressed, grab my stuff and head down to the bus in front of the hotel for the trip to the starting area. The advantage of staying at a Disney hotel is that they will bus you from the hotel to the starting area. After arriving I look for some friends near the bag check tent. Although I am unable to find any of them, my friend Corinna sees me and we head to the starting corrals together, where we come across a couple other friends. From the left, that's Debra, Diane and Corinna in the photo with me. I position myself at the front of my starting corral as we get close to the race start so as not to get caught up with all the other runners. The race starts with a bit of fireworks and celebratory fanfare with the race mascot, Donald Duck, and then we are off.
The weather was cool this early morning, but good for running. Given the early 5:30 a.m. start of the first wave it was going to be dark for a good part of this race. After several miles we approached the vehicle entry going towards the Magic Kingdom. Coming up to the Magic Kingdom brought us to the best part of the race--running through the parks! We were able to run down a dark, but crowded Main Street with lots of cheering spectators urging the runners along. After clearing Main Street, we were able to run through much of the park, including Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Adventureland. During these areas there were numerous other photo opportunities as well. Finally, we exited the Magic Kingdom through a rear service exit and took a company road to head back towards Epcot. Along this road we traveled through some back areas and then alongside some of the resort hotels before making it back to the regular roadway system. Along that route we came across several other photo chances including these here.
As we head along the road back to towards Epcot I can see daylight arriving in the distance. During this run along the roads back towards Epcot there were a variety of entertainment options including characters, scenery and music. Here I am posing with the not often scene character Scrooge McDuck. Finally, we're getting back to Epcot for the last part of the race, which includes a short out and back through the park with an eventual exit through a side service exit and the finish line just after that. During this last bit I manage to get one last stop for a character photo before I make my final run towards the finish. At this point I probably have a bit more than a half mile left and realize that a PR is still possible for me and I stretch my legs out for a good finish. As it turned out my math was off a bit and that was a bit unnecessary as I finished with a time of 2:24:01, a PR of 2:44 from the Run Wild Half in February 2010.
Later that afternoon I met some friends for Dole Whips at the Magic Kingdom
and then later on I meet some more for ice cream at Beaches and Cream at the Yacht and Beach Club Resort before meeting up with my family for some time in the theme parks before heading back to the hotel room to prepare for the marathon the next day.