Is it trip report time again already? Yay! I’ll be looking back at my Dopey trip at the beginning of January, with special separate posts for each race and some food experiences depending on how much I have to say about them. You can read all the posts in this particular trip report here. Ready? Let’s go!
Believe it or not, my morale the morning of the marathon was infinitely higher than before the half marathon. The great sage Nicole had told me many months ago that once the marathon rolled around, you were just ready to finish this thing, and she was so right.
And so I popped out of bed, dressed, and prepped with a comparatively light heart. Originally I had planned to drag Pat out with me for the marathon, but he had unexpectedly been saddled with a giant project at work. I determined that he should sleep in and work on that in the morning in favor of watching the parade and fireworks that night. It’s all about priorities. He would come out to see me run later in the race.
The line for the buses was unexpectedly long (the past three mornings I had boarded a bus immediately or almost immediately). It stretched out far behind me, but I luckily had come early enough that I didn’t have to wait too long. The traffic was definitely worse, though – I guess because more roads were blocked? – and by the time I had hit the port-o-potties and walked to the corrals the national anthem was already in the air.
After some furious texting I found KRaut and KVac by our usual marker, the man with the giant brown Afro wig. As with the half, I found that the corrals moved up with surprising speed, and I was totally caught off guard when corral J was next to go! We were so close to the front of the corral as to be practically on top of it, and my Garmin still hadn’t found a location when we started; indeed, we were about a quarter mile in before it did. No big deal, as I was really only using it as a barometer. I CERTAINLY WAS NOT about to use Dopey as an attempt to set a PR. Another shocker: I shed my throwaway outer layer before the start. A WDW Marathon weekend first!
One fun bit when we started: we were on the side of the corral, so we passed right by the video cameras. We all waved and made ridiculous faces for the big screen, naturally.
So yeah: we were off! Once again I started up my music, and once again I found myself using it less and less. I’d say I ran maybe ten miles with it on total. Partially I was concerned with draining my battery and being unable to find Pat in the spectator area, but a lot of it was that this race was about something new: camaraderie. Usually I am an inward-focused runner – even when Moon and I run we do so mostly in companionable, music-driven silence – but Dopey was about survival, and survival is easier with a team. KRaut and KVac kept me moving!
The opening volley of roads was the usual uneventful. The first item of any note was, of course, entering the Magic Kingdom. We ran up Main Street and into Tomorrowland, stopping off briefly in a nook to take some photos with the castle. Then we circled it around through Fantasyland and under the castle, pausing to say hi to Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff, who were hanging around on the balcony. (Hi! Hello! Hello! Hi! Hi! – Everything the Frozen Characters Were Allowed To Say)
We continued on to Frontierland, where we stopped for our usual bathroom break. I was in crazed time-saving mode, and, terrified of being left behind, I zoomed through my business, bolted out of the bathroom, and saw… no one. I bounced from one foot to the other and frantically scanned the crowds – had KRaut and KVac abandoned me??? One text message and thirty seconds later and I found them behind me; I had been the first one finished. Whew.
Crisis averted, we hopped back onto the course and were quickly out of the Magic Kingdom. We continued one past the monorail resorts before heading back out onto the road. Next landmark: The Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Which we reached in short order, stopping just outside the Speedway entrance to take some pictures with the fancy pants cars parked outside. KRaut and KVac warned me about the ramp into the Speedway, and boy were they right – it was scary! It’s a SUPER sharp angle downward, and I practically walked down it. Then we blasted up the ramp and were onto the Speedway itself, lined almost all the way with more fancy pants cars and their owners. Nifty.
|Fa Zhou? I didn’t know he had a son!|
Our next passage of roads had one bright spot: a photo op with characters from Robin Hood! The queue was pretty minimal, and we grabbed a shot with Robin, Little John, and Friar Tuck.
That was great and all, but I’d say it was the next part that was the highlight of my race: right outside the Animal Kingdom there were SO. MANY. ANIMALS. I LOVE ANIMALS!!! I wasted probably as much as ten minutes taking pictures with two owls, a goat, a donkey, and a pig. Like the horses of the Tinker Bell Half, I consider it time well spent.
Around this time I had been texting with Pat, who was done with work for the morning and ready to head over. He originally planned to come spectate at the Animal Kingdom, but as I hit the park he still hadn’t managed to get a bus. The bus situation was evidently a mess, to say nothing of the insanity of traffic with all the road closures. We agreed he’d just find me at Epcot at the end; it seemed the safest proposition.
We ran through Animal Kingdom, eschewing a ride on Everest but stopping to take a photo with… um… somebody. Marie? I honestly don’t remember the character, but I know that KVac and KRaut remembered the handler from touring the parks the day before, so they were all excited. Another stop for a photo with Jiminy Cricket and we were out of the Animal Kingdom.
And settled in for the long road. The portion of the course between Animal Kingdom and the ESPN Wide World of Sports was not what I would call exceptionally exciting. There was of course music at the halfway point, but I forget what song. Oh, and the grave diggers livened things up (hah!), although the Katherines were surprised to see them at so early a mile.
Also we took a picture with the Country Bears at some point, but as I can’t recall when exactly I’m just going to mention it here. It happened!
Anyway, after several thousand years of running we made it to the Wide World of Sports, which was frankly not that much more exciting. They had some soccer and volleyball and frisbee games and the like going on, but I personally found this minimally entertaining. Also it started to rain, though it did slack off with reasonably speed. Regardless, this was my least favorite part of the race. Although I did receive and eat probably the best banana of my life (I was insanely hungry during this race, I guess because of all the running beforehand).
The road portion between the WWoS and the Studios was characterized by damage control. For starters, I needed to pee. My yammering about finding the first bathroom in the Studios became more and more incessant until I’m quite confident the Katherines would’ve liked to have shoved me into the nearest woods. Of course, if they had done that, there would’ve been no one around to assist in tricky Vaseline application. Then KVac suffered a protein spill, but luckily she felt fine afterward. No Man Left Behind, that was our motto!
Finally we made it into the Hollywood Studios, entering behind the Tower of Terror and running past a bunch of areas that did not have bathrooms. It took a trip through the Backlot Tour costume tunnel (from the opposite direction as the Wine & Dine? Right? Am I crazy?) and a trip past the Lights! Motors! Action! stadium to find a restroom. As I went to exit the course, the feelings of relief already welling up inside me, I was stopped by a cast member: “You can’t use the bathroom.” My mouth dropped open and my eyes grew wide. ???? But the CM laughed and told me to go ahead. VERY FUNNY, CAST MEMBER.
Meanwhile, Pat was riding Mission: Space. Would that we were all so lucky.
Post-bathroom break, we ran through the Streets of America, which was considerably less exciting without the Osborne Lights, and then I think around past Muppets and Star Tours? Yes? Maybe? Well, we definitely ran out of the Studios and onto the pathway between it and Epcot.
This was a major spectating session, full of cheering people with signs and lots and lots of people offering exciting candies. I can’t say I was feeling good at that point per se, but it was definitely nice to have all that support, to say nothing of the high fives.
We put the Boardwalk area behind us, ran through the International Gateway, annnnnd… it started to rain! Yay! Like, real rain this time, Wine & Dine style. Which was sad, because I had wanted to get a picture of Mulan, but we were almost done and I wasn’t about to stop to hang out in the wet.
Another denizen of the World Showcase I did not stop for: a guy wearing his Dopey shirt spectating and drinking a glass of sparkling wine. Now, he didn’t have a medal on, so it’s possible he borrowed the shirt or slept through the race, but I suspect that he had already finished and I hated him for it.
But! Like I said! We were almost done! We exited the World Showcase under slightly less extreme rain conditions and ran down the bridge and past the fountain. Pat had texted me that he was in this area, and I almost thought I’d missed him when I spotted him under Spaceship Earth. Success! A quick hug and kiss and he sent me on my way, promising to meet me at the finish line.
Which was, but that point, SOOOO tantalizingly close. Like, we were practically on top of it, that’s how close it was. Like, we were running past Spaceship Earth. Like, we were running past the gospel choir. Like, we were formulating our finish plan (EVERYBODY HOLD HANDS!). Like, WE WERE RUNNING UP TO THE FINISH LINE AND THEN UNDER IT AND THEN WE WERE DONE.
WE WERE DONE! Oh, and it had stopped raining!
We grabbed our marathon medals, then got our backdrop photos taken before entering our respective challenge tents to be photo-matched. KRaut and I accepted our Goofy and Dopey medals and KVac got her Goofy medal. Then we headed over to the food and beverage areas to collect much-needed sustenance. We also received a “cooling towel” instead of a space blanket, which was interesting and reusable but not warming. Someone told me later that a lot of races are moving away from space blankets for environmental reasons, but I really think we need something heat-trapping post-race. Maybe a cheap fleece blanket?
The Katherines and I spent some time thanking each other for sticking with us, and then we argued a bit over who, exactly, was the slowest one, with everyone vying for the crown. Regardless, I was and am wildly grateful for their company; I would never have gotten through the experience so pleasantly without them. KRaut and KVac, if you’re out there – THANK YOU!
I will have more Dopey takeaways in a later post, but for now let me just say that I was, in that moment, super happy to have done it and super happy to be done. The Katherines headed to the merchandise tent to look around (I hear the selection wasn’t much), and I headed over to the POR bus stop, meeting Pat along the way. The race was over, but vacation was not!
Up next: more Magic Kingdom!
Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email email@example.com. See ya real soon!