Our alarms went off about 30 minutes earlier today… about 2:15 am. The first bus was at 3 am and we wanted to enjoy every minute we could in race retreat. We got ready and I took a pre-race picture in the room so the lighting would be good enough.
We walked to the lobby and got on the waiting bus. We waited about 10 more minutes before finally leaving for the race. We saw Nancy as we got off the bus. Although we were on the first bus, there were quite a few people walking in with us once we got there.
We made our way to the Race Retreat tent.
A couple minutes after we walked in, they brought out the characters. I quickly dropped what I had and hustled over to get my picture with my favorite Princess and her Prince.
They had a DJ this year which added a little to the already nice atmosphere. Here are a couple panorama shots to give you an idea.
Then I went back and got some pre-race food.
I also took advantage of the special port-o-potties. I will caution, it is really dark by these. I used my phone flashlight to be able to see.
There was a snafu at the character swap. Only one fairy came out.
I heard something about the traffic at this point. Apparently, the other 2 fairies got caught up in it. I hoped I would get that picture after the race, anyway. Soon, the DJ was telling us it was time to head to the corrals. So, we went by the main entrance and this banner.
This year, they had water by the large bank of port-o-potties next to the main staging area.
They actually had a DJ placed about halfway along the road to the corrals.
I was so happy to be able to follow this sign to my corral this year. Jamie was able to as well. She got a good proof of time submitted this year.
I was in corral H this time. So, I made my way to the balloon.
I heard the PrincessMen would be starting in my corral, but didn’t see them when I entered. I can only assume they were later getting to the corrals. I made my way to the front (but not all the way).
We waited around for quite a while. Finally, they made an announcement that due to the traffic, the start would be delayed 10 minutes. They should have delayed closing the race retreat by the same amount of time, but I don’t think they did. Once that time elapsed, the National Anthem was sung. Then they finally started the first group.
They did a waved start within each corral. The fireworks seemed to be only for the first wave of a corral. Eventually, we moved up to the start line.
My corral started just after 6 am. These first pictures are hard to see since they are blurry. There were spectators on the left side at the edge of the parking lot.
Then came a high school band.
I must say I really enjoy the bands on the course. The first water stop was right before the EPCOT exit on the road.
Soon, we came to Mile 1 with my favorite Princess on it.
There was a DJ in the median of the road. She would be more important to me on the return.
Then we got to the turnoff towards Magic Kingdom.
At the end of the ramp were some volunteers cheering.
About this point, the lead runner passed us on the other side of the road. You really can’t see him in this picture.
We passed Jack Sparrow in this stretch, but I must not have gotten a photo of him. Soon, we came to Mile 2.
I think it’s interesting that they used the Tangled Ever After characters vs the movie characters. Next we ran by a huge video screen.
The sun came up pretty quickly. We were passed by more quick runners at this point.
Next came the Heros. I always wait to stop at this picture on the way back to EPCOT.
Thanks to the tip of a wonderful bike volunteer and another runner who took the picture, I got a great shot entering the Magic Kingdom parking lot.
There were volunteers warning of the speed bumps between the parking booths.
There was a medical tent strategically placed just on the other side presumably to help those that didn’t heed the warning.
Next came a water stop.
Along with a bank of port-o-potties.
I thought it was funny that this speed sign was actually capturing a speed for us running by.
We got to Mile 3 at the edge of the Magic Kingdom parking lot.
Followed shortly by the 5k speed bump.
There was a sign just before our right turn into the parking lot.
Next came my first character stop… Mrs. Incredible.
Her line was fairly short. Here’s the official photo:
Next came a long line. It was for 2 different picture opportunities. The line actually moved relatively quickly. First was Maleficent.
Then you stepped over to the Evil Queen.
Then we continued on towards TTC. We ran under the bridge.
There were spectators in this area. We ran in through the right side.
We turned right just before the monorail entrance. Then we came to one of the runners’ favorites, the Japanese drummers.
As we left the TTC, we had another water stop.
Mile 4 was in the middle of the water stop.
There was medical and port-o-potties in this area as well.
We turned left onto the road to the Contemporary.
We ran under the water bridge.
The DJ is up on the bridge and very encouraging.
What goes down, must come up. Personally, I walked the whole way up.
I should point out, only half of this road is closed to traffic as you can tell in the last picture. Some runners get frustrated and cross that cone barrier. That can be a very bad idea. Please be safe and respect the cone barriers.
Next we ran by the Contemporary. Normally there are many spectators in this area.
We kept running towards Space Mountain.
There were many spectators at the crosswalk from the Contemporary.
The as a left turn just before Space Mountain.
We ran through this guard shack area.
Mile 5 was in this section.
We turned right and ran under the railroad bridge.
We turned left on the other side of the railroad bridge towards Main Street.
I decided to get video of running down Main Street this year. Apparently, even when I’m trying to be less bouncy it doesn’t work well.
When we got to the circle, I noticed a photographer. She was having a hard time because a guy next to her had a sign that he kept dropping in front of her. I stopped and told him what was going on hoping that would change things. The photographer seemed grateful. We turned right into Tomorrowland. The sun was rising and in just the right place to make this a bad picture.
Buzz Lightyear was in front of his attraction as we turned left back towards Fantasyland.
The Queen of Hearts was in front of the Tea Cups.
This year we turned right towards the circus area.
We came through the Little Mermaid area.
Gaston was taking pictures by his tavern.
The Beast was by Be Our Guest.
Both of those lines were long so I just did drive by pictures.
Next we ran through the castle with Anna, Elsa, and Christophe waving from the side.
The official photographers caught me running on the other side of the castle.
I did stop and finally get a good jump picture in front of the castle.
We then went right into Frontierland.
I visited my favorite bathroom again this year.
Woody was in the area in front of the bathrooms.
This year we turned right to head back towards Thunder Mountain.
We made almost a U-turn at the end of the bridge area about even with the entrance to the Splash Mountain line area.
They got a picture of me on the way back.
Mile 6 was in the Splash Mountain area.
Due to the current work on the railroad, there was no train on the tracks exiting the park this year
Cinderella and Prince Charming were by the castle float (even though it’s hard to see them with the long line).
Next came a water stop.
I will point out the first person was refilling water bottles for people.
The 10k speed bump was shortly after the water stop.
There was a medical tent shortly before turning left onto the road.
I think this must have been a sweep point later on since there was a parade bus in the area.
There was a huge bank of port-o-potties in this area.
This section of road is where I saw more runners get frustrated and cross over the cone barrier since it is narrower. I ran in the grass on the left. Some runners by me talked about crossing and I advised them not to since it was open to traffic. Shortly after my advisory, some cars came through and they thanked me. Soon, we came to the fire engine and DJ that mark the halfway point.
To give you an idea of the reason some people were getting frustrated, here was the section of road after the fire engine heading towards the Grand Floridian.
Mile 7 was just before the Grand Floridian.
The penguins from Mary Poppins were out at the first entrance to the Grand Floridian. I heard Mary and Bert were out there at other times.
I noticed the Grand Floridian iconic greeter on the right side.
There were spectators at the Grand Floridian.
Next came another water stop.
I got a great picture of the Grand Floridian from the road.
Next came the Glass Slipper guys photo stop by the wedding pavilion.
There were spectators in front of Shades of Green.
I did wait in line for a picture with the vacation Genie just passed Shades of Green.
We got to Mile 8 in this area.
There was a DJ in this stretch of road which is where I start hitting my wall.
There was a bank of port-o-potties on the right side.
Next came the Clif Shot area.
I did remember my fueling pretty well this time.
There was a car with a few guys taking pictures by the gas station.
On the other side of the gas station, there was a bank of port-o-potties and a medical tent.
Then came another water stop.
Mile 9 was shortly after that.
Next came the Heros which always gives me a kick start.
Shortly after the Heros came the 15k speed bump.
Next came a large screen.
I did stop for the pirates. They didn’t have the large ship this year, but at least they were back on the course.
They was a large bank of port-o-potties within sight of the bridge to EPCOT.
Right after that was a water stop.
Mile 10 was under the bridge.
This is probably the largest sweep spot on the course. Luckily, I’ve never been close enough to the balloon ladies at this point to witness it. They will pull the buses across the road.
I was walking up the ramp to the bridge. Then I got to the green army man and he picked me out of the crowd. He ordered me into running and I obliged for a brief period.
The view of the people behind me from the top of the bridge.
There was another hill after the bridge. It might not look like much, but you can definitely feel it at this point in the race.
There were some cheering volunteers on this stretch.
Just after the volunteers, there was a DJ.
Finally we got to Mile 11.
There was a medical tent in the middle of the roadway. This was the first one we saw during the race, as well.
Shortly after that was a water stop.
The u-turn section had a large screen at the turnaround point.
I didn’t see any cutting through the cones this year. The road then goes uphill over the EPCOT parking entrance. Here is a picture of the guests entering the parking lot for the day.
There was a elevated DJ on the end of the downhill part of the road.
Mile 12 was shortly after the DJ.
There were some spectators by the entrance to the bus area.
This was a very congested area where people arriving on the buses had to cross the course. They did a great job of not holding up the runner.
Before we entered EPCOT, I found Mushu and had to stop for a picture.
There were a few port-o-potties and the last water stop in the backstage area at EPCOT.
We entered EPCOT through this open gate.
The 20k area did not have a speed bump probably since it was a guest crosswalk.
We ran out towards World Showcase and around this planter.
A photographer caught me running in this area.
Luckily, I saw some ladies leaving the main path and checked to see where they were going. Just after rounding the end of the planter, Lady Daisy was taking pictures. I have not seen her before so I just had to stop.
There was a picture location with the Geosphere on the way back. I opted not to stop this year.
We ran to the right and turned right just before the leg of Spaceship Earth.
The gospel choir was singing us to the finish as usual. I do love this.
Mile 13 was just after we came out of the backstage areas.
There were lots of spectators in the smaller bleachers here.
Then the last photographers before the finish.
Here’s the picture they got of me.
Here is a look back at the finish line after I crossed.
My picture crossing the line.
From here you can see thee race retreat tent. I wish there was a quicker way for runners to get back to it.
There is a medical and self-treatment tent shortly after you get your medal.
I did stop to get sprinkled with dust by these fairy godmother ladies.
Here is the view of the line of water and powerade tables.
Behind the tables are the half marathon pictures. The tent to the right is for challenge medals. I got my Glass Slipper Challenge medal and my Coast to Coast. There was a different picture location for us after that tent.
Then we walked through another area to pick up bananas and snack boxes. At the very end, they were handing out the drawstring bags to put it all in. Then, we had to walk even further if we weren’t picking up checked bags to get through to turn around and walk all the way back to race retreat. They really need a way for race retreat people to get more directly back to the tent. I had to go halfway to the buses before I got to turn around and come back.
Once I got back to the race retreat, I was able to get the picture I wanted.
Then I went and got my plate of breakfast food.
I took a medal selfie while I was waiting for Jamie.
The DJ was starting to give closing warnings and I was afraid Jamie might not make it in time. So, I went and got a plate for her. She arrived about 5 minutes later. She was able to sit and eat her plate before they made the announcement that the race retreat was closing. Based on timing, I do not think they extended it since the race started late. They should consider that in the future. They wonder why more people don’t sign up, but a back of the packer really doesn’t get a lot of use out of it after the race. If you finish with the ballooon ladies, you’ll get back in time to quickly grab a plate of food to go.
Once Jamie finished her plate, we headed out the side door towards the buses. We saw the balloon ladies in this area.
The line for the Port Orleans bus was building. They were double loading buses so we didn’t have to wait too long. The bus in front of ours did block in our hotel’s bus for a little while.
Eventually we were loaded on a smaller bus. This picture will give you an idea of our small bus.
Overall, I was happy with the race this year. I was slightly disappointed in the race retreat and how far I had to walk to get back. The characters in it were my favorites so it was totally worth it to me. They still haven’t brought back bacon which would raise it a little. I did like the slightly altered course. I will be back next year since it will be the 5th year of the challenge (maybe the first recognition for those us of that are legacy). It will also be the 10th anniversary of the half. I’m looking forward to what they will do for these special events.