True to Disney, this half marathon was a 13.1 mile roller coaster – a mix of sudden stops, plenty of turns (with all our bobbing and weaving), and colliding human-bumper-cars (bumper-humans I guess is what that would be called?).
(Heads up – this was a fun race, so please read anything below that sounds like maybe a “complaint” with love and laughter in your voice. I thought it all was more funny than annoying. And read about the more magical parts tomorrow.)
When we ran through the Magic Kingdom, we all got funneled from a wide road into a narrower bridge. As we ran up to the bridge – screeeeech! We stopped suddenly, trapped behind a huge, unexplained traffic jam caused by a large group of people who had come to a complete stop.
Runners started yelling “don’t stop!” I couldn’t tell what was going on. Some of us finally squeezed around. I started jogging again, thinking we were back to doing a half marathon, when the woman running just a little bit in front of me suddenly halted. I ran smack into her. That’s when I saw a photographer. I realized the incredible gridlock all throughout that bridge was due to people stopping to pose. (By that point I had been jogging basically the whole time, so I was not in a group of walkers.)
Don’t get me wrong, I am a super ham for the camera, but I try to keep up my pace while being one. After all, I am in a half marathon, so I want some action shots, by golly! The thing I’m learning about Disney running events is that they are Disney events that happen to involve running as opposed to running events that involve Disney.
There were areas where people could get their picture taken with characters, and a line would form along the side of the course. Okay, that’s cool. But, I came upon one where the line was curving far into the road, literally going to the halfway point of the street. What?! Why are you lining up that way? Did you forget you were in a half marathon?
At some point in some race I have almost certainly gotten in someone’s way. I am far from a perfect runner. I still slow down to walk sometimes. (And I am a silly, dancing walker.) But I do my very best to stay out of the way of faster people. I keep my eyes open and try to be as considerate as possible to other runners. Granted, this Disney race had 20,000 people, so I’m sure no matter what, it was going to be crowded.
Plus, Disney races have more first time runners than any other races, so it is possible that a lot of people didn’t know to stay to the right when they’re going slower, or to go off to the side for pictures (or to not stop straight up in the middle of a crowded, narrow bridge?).
Everybody has a first time, and life is a learning experience, so it’s okay if everyone doesn’t know everything about everything. And half marathons should be plenty of fun. I love half marathons and would love it if the whole world shared that love. So, I do not want to rain on anyone’s parade. But it was an interesting race to say the least.
It certainly made for a great workout since it added distance (with all the bobbing and weaving) and gave me a nice, little test of my agility and coordination.
The lesson (even in this longer distance race) is the same one I learned at my first Disney 5k and implemented in my next Disney 5k. Unless you are an elite runner who’s going to run far ahead, be up for walking and picture stops. Go into it thinking you’re gonna have a great morning walk with your friends, and you’ll have a ball. (I know I did at the 5k where I took that attitude. I thought “what are these water stations doing here on my morning walk? How lovely.”)
Encourage brand new runners to try their first race with you, leave your Garmin at home, and have a play run. That’s my advice that I will heed at my next Disney race.
As I said, I did have a super fun time, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it tomorrow.