The last two years have seen unseasonably chilly temperatures for Florida during the Walt Disney World Marathon. This year, I bolted upright in bed at 2:35am in the morning as always, but to a very different world. It was already 60 degrees; indeed, I dressed in my Figment best for the race and then topped it off with a single thin long-sleeve shirt as a throwaway. Fancy that - a WDW Marathon where I wasn't freezing to death.
Under the cover of darkness that is characteristic of such ungodly hours, I slinked over to the bus stop to... no line at all. I got on the bus and it didn't even fill before leaving. Life in the deluxe resorts sure is spacious.
The bus dropped us off at the staging area a little after 3:30am. I busied myself with my usual pre-race ritual: wandering around aimlessly. There were character photo opportunities but the lines were long and already gotten Mickey yesterday, so, eh.
There wasn't even a crazy dance party to watch - even the DJ seemed uncharacteristically subdued. He was spinning tunes but you could tell his heart wasn't in it. Eventually the usual runDisney announcer gang showed up, said a few words, and released us to the long walk to the corrals.
A merely three miles or so later I came to a screeching halt, for my holy grail of character stops had appeared: DARKWING DUCK! He was paired with Launchpad McQuack as he was the last and only other time I have ever seen him, but for some reason they were only playing the Duck Tales theme song, not DW's. I tried to even the score but running at Darkwing with my arms flung open and he mimed being dutifully flattered, but then I bet he acts that way with all the goslings. Drake Mallard pulls, y'all.
The next truly notable instance was entering the Magic Kingdom and running up Main Street, which is always a delight, especially with the incredible crowd support. A kind Cast Member took my picture with the lit up castle before I took the hard right into Tomorrowland...
(Shoutout to Megan at Elbowglitter for cheering for me by the Grand Floridian sign! It gave me 30 seconds of distraction I sorely needed.)
At one point I was so demoralized I stopped for a picture with Clarabelle Cow and whoever this horse is, just to have something to do. Seriously, I thought the horse was Hortensia?? Is it actually Hortense??? What is the truth?????
I stopped for a picture with a ballet ostrich from Fantasia, but in that case the CMs were TOO efficient, taking my photo before I was ready and hustling me out. It was almost enough to make me stop for a beer, but I resisted.
I trudged down the path out of the Studios and over to the Boardwalk, which was once again full of a spectacular number of cheering spectators, offering candy, beverages, and support. I kept my chin up but I still wondered where the magic was. Where was my runDisney-induced runner's high? It had usually kicked in by now!
And then I ran into the World Showcase and BAM: it happened. The Disney music was playing, the Cast Members were waving their flags, the finish line was in sight, and I filled up with joy. IT Band? Never heard of it! My pain melted away and I sped past countries, kicking it, passing people left and right.
I definitely wasn't about to set any PRs, though, so I figured there was no harm in stopping for photos. I tried to explain to Alice that I did my thesis on her books, but she stayed firmly in character pretending she had no idea what a thesis was.
And then came to a stop because ow. Whew. Probably one of the harder efforts I've given. The heat and humidity didn't help. But it happened! I was happy!
But also sad. Because I knew it would be an ENTIRE YEAR before I got to do it again. :( :( :(
WDW 2020, anybody?
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