Next in the Dopey Challenge saga is the half marathon… As you may very well know, the half marathon was cancelled due to weather. After hearing stories about “Splash-n-Dash” and other close calls, I wasn’t surprised that this cancellation happened. Many runners have written about how the runDisney community came together so beautifully (like Linz at Sharp Endurance – one of my favorite posts). But let’s start at the beginning…
After the 10K, we spent the day at Hollywood Studios and finished with an early dinner in the Italy pavilion of Epcot. Afterwards, we headed back home to the Art of Animation resort, where the guys headed to the pool bar and my mom and I headed to the room. We knew the weather forecast was looking unfavorable, but I was thinking positive thoughts as I prepared my gear for the next early morning. We were waiting for the official announcement at 7PM. Well, 7:00 came and went and we were still waiting to hear. Around 7:30PM, we finally got the official announcement:
Clearly once we received the messages regarding the cancellation, I went down to the bar where Roswell and my brother were. They immediately knew something was going on when I ordered a drink. As I shared the news, slowly other runners started to join us at the bar.
We talked about how upset we were and how it probably wasn’t even going to storm anyway, when another runner mentioned he was going to run anyway.
They started making plans, but to be honest, Roswell and I kind of were thinking we’d take the day off and rest up for the marathon. Roswell was upset about the challenge and how he didn’t even want his half and challenge medals if he wasn’t going to run. Eventually I left the bar and headed to bed, looking forward to sleeping in after two early mornings with one more still to go. When we woke up, we walked over to the food court to grab some breakfast and we saw people running around the lake. It wasn’t storming in our area, but we had heard of lightning around what would have been the race course. We ate breakfast and thought about what our plans were for the day since the race had been cancelled. We had planned to take it easy that day, just enjoy some pool time and rest our legs after the half. Watching everyone running, we definitely had some FOMO. We got swept up in the tide of runners, and quickly got dressed and laced up our shoes.
When arrived on the lake trail, I was almost immediately in tears to see the running community band together. Volunteers, friends and families had gathered together water, gatorade, and other snacks to create a make shift aid station that runners passed through every loop around the lake. Children came out in costumes and took pictures with runners for their character stops. There were several cheer stations around the lake trail, where no matter how long it would take you, there would be someone cheering you on.
Roswell and my brother completed the full 13.1 miles, while I completed about 10 miles before the rain and lightning came and I decided to be safe and head inside. I believe that runDisney and Walt Disney World made the correct call in cancelling the race. The way the community came together to help those who wanted to complete their challenge in their own way was amazing to watch. I believe that you earn your medals not only by crossing the finish line, but early mornings or late nights when you go out for your training runs, when you complete repeat after repeat on the track, every step that leads to that starting line. The inaugural Pop Century/Art of Animation half marathon was better than any official race could have ever been and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything else.
Up next, the conclusion to this Dopey Challenge adventure, the Walt Disney World Marathon! In case you miss the first three installments, you can read from the beginning: