|Race Report: The 2017 Dopey Challenge, Part II - The Unofficial WDW Half Marathon
||[Jan. 10th, 2017|05:41 pm]
Jeffrey, Jeff, or Jeffy
From Agony to Ecstasy: Uncancelling the cancelled Half Marathon|
There had been some weather advisories about the Walt Disney World Half Marathon which was to take place on Saturday. Weather advisories aren't at all uncommon for races. I've run marathons through torrential downpours with forty mile an hour winds, through cold so biting that water froze instantly when it hit the ground. (Skate through the water station!) And I've run in 100+ heat.
But I've never signed up for a race that was ever cancelled because of the weather. Until this one.
I was out wandering around Epcot on Friday evening when a friend texted me. "They actually cancelled the race???" I quickly checked my email. Yep. Because of an incoming storm Run Disney decided to cancel the Half Marathon. It was not the storm so much that prompted their decision to cancel the race, so much as it was the lightning that came with it.
I was crushed. All of the preparation, all of the time and expense to go across the country and run four straight days of races, just to have one pulled out from under me.
The details came through. We would still get our medals. They would just give them to us. We were also getting registration refunds. And everyone doing the Dopey and Goofy challenges, (The Goofy Challenge is the half and the full,) would still qualify as having completed the challenges so long as they finished the marathon on Sunday.
I know it could have been worse. A friend of mine had gone all the way to New York for the 2012 Marathon, just to have her marathon cancelled on her. (And she wasn't at all happy about the way they went about it either. First saying it was going to happen after the storm, and then changing their minds.) It wasn't as if our whole weekend was over, unless you were one of the truly unfortunate who only registered for the half.
Even so, I came out to run a four race challenge, not a three race challenge and what-the-heck-we'll-just-give-you-the-third-race-as-a-gimme challenge. I was mad. I was disappointed. I was dismayed.
After crying in my beer and cursing the Gods, I decided that I couldn't accept the half medal or the WDW half marathon shirt without actually running the distance. Many people on the Facebook site said they were going out to run 13.1 the next day. Walking around the lobby of my hotel, I even ran into runners who were going out to run their half marathons that evening.
To motivate myself, I even created a Facebook event: The Jeffrey's WDW unofficial Half Marathon. The event details:
"I'm running a half marathon tomorrow morning in spite of the weather and the official cancellation of the WDW Half Marathon, because if I don't I will hate myself for the rest of my life! They will still be giving us the medal, but I need to run it anyways because if I don't, I don't deserve it. Will be in the lobby of the Swan Hotel at 6 AM. Running very easy so I don't kill myself for the Marathon.
Run will mostly involve the Boardwalk Half, but may take other courses as weather, conditions, or whimsy apply.
Others are welcome to join, but zero percent body fatters who need to sprint and Hanz n' Franzers will be disappointed with my pace. Taking place despite rain, shine, lightning, alligators, Tsunami, or alien invasion!"
Even though I had promised myself I would start running at 6 AM, I just couldn't sleep. Around 4 AM I got myself ready, and I was out the door at 4:30 AM. I even had my Dopey Challenge bib on.
There was very little rain. It was cloudy, but some of the sky still poked through. The most remarkable thing was that it was warm. Very warm! There was some lightning, but it was off in the distance.
My hotel was right next to a long boardwalk of shops and restaurants that loop around near Epcot and along a row of timeshares. The Boardwalk Loop. I started out by running around that particular loop. Right away I ran into a few other runners who were also out to run 13.1's, using their Garmins and Runkeepers and Nike +'s to track their mileage. Around the Boardwalk loop, I ran into a young woman who was out to cheer her friends. She even had a sign with her! I stopped and talk to her for a bit. I ran into a few more runners, some who told me about a path that went along to the Hollywood Studios Park, which I ran a few times.
The longer I ran, the more runners were out. Many were running in small groups, and some larger groups came by. A group of about six women running together started singing: "Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to run we go..." So many runners cheered me on as we ran past each other, and I did the same. They all said the same thing: They couldn't accept that medal without doing the work.
Eventually I ran across another runner, a real Run Disney veteran, just starting her run. She was dressed as Donald Duck and we ran together and chatted for about three miles. Her pace was nice and slow, so it helped to keep up with her.
Throughout the entire morning, even after my run, I saw runners out doing their 13.1's. Spectators even started to form, some shaking pom poms, and others with cowbells yelling out the standard hoots: "You look great!" "Keep it up!" "You can do it!" It was quite a sight, seeing all of those people putting in the miles so they could accept their medals with pride and accomplishment.
And almost every one of them had on Dopey bibs.
And the end of my run I asked a young woman coming out of my hotel if she could take a picture of me to commemorate my run. Looking at my picture, I realized how satisfied I looked. No, I didn't get crammed into a crowded corral and stand around for more than an hour waiting for a race to start, and I didn't run across timing mats and through aid stations, and have a tired volunteer put a medal around my neck, but I put in my miles, and I no longer felt cheated out of my race, especially because of the camaraderie and support of my fellow Dopey runners
The event page I created on Facebook for this run!
Me at the start of my unofficial WDW half! It was really warm, despite being WTH-o'clock!
This young woman was out to cheer on her friends who were doing their halves. She ended up cheering for many other runners going by.
A triumphant me after running my unofficial half!