The weekend after the Fifth Avenue Mile, I participated in the Tower of Terror 10 Miler within Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I love to head down to WDW, because being immersed in the amazing enginuity of the Disney brand stimulates my own inner creativity.
I visited the race expo Friday afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised at the sheer number of vendors promoting their running attire, shoes, gadgets (God how I love running gadgets!), charities and other marathons being run throughout the country. After I picked up my race swag (as Fred Lebow once said – runners will do anything for a t-shirt), I got to listen to Jeff Galloway speak for a bit on pacing and pre-race preparation. Then I headed out to the theme parks to meet up with a bunch of awesome teammates from the WDW Radio Running Team.
After attending a Friday evening event at the American Pavillion of EPCOT which included an homage to the late great Adventurers Club as well as time spent with a group of wonderful people, I watched Illuminations from the Italy pavillion before calling it a night.
Saturday was spent relaxing and touring some theme parks – exactly what a person does NOT want to do the day of a 10pm 10-miler in heat and humidity. The temperatures circled around the 85-90 degree range during the day, and dropped to a brisk 81 by the time the 10pm race began.
The race itself was – to be rather blunt – lackluster. I guess I expected more from Disney than I received. The course was well lit – but we spent approximately 9-10 miles of the race (and that’s a conservative estimate) was spent on quiet roadways with virtually no spectator support or any other form of visual stimulation. Now I know what you’re thinking: Joe, it’s a race. It’s a 10-miler. You should treat it as a race and simply run it to finish in the best time that you can. While I do run all other races in this fashion, Disney races are different. I run them for the experiences. For the sights and sounds. To see what’s coming around the next corner – what does Disney have in store for us? I never run Disney races for a PR (Personal Record).
I ran with a group of fantastic teammates from the WDW Radio Running Team, we took it slow and steady, and ran through the humidity to the finish line alongside the Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The walk from the finish line to baggage claim was long and congested – and that did not help people’s moods as they wandered through the park a collective bunch of sweaty messes. By the time I returned to my hotel room, it was after 2:30am on Sunday morning. I had planned to enjoy the post-race party…but was too fried from the heat and humidity to go on a ride or two after the 10-mile trek.
Would I do this race again? Maybe. However, there are several items that need to be addressed:
1) Please make the course entertaining…..or drop the entry fee. You’re Disney – we expect a higher level of quality from you. Sorry…but that’s the cost of being the best entertainment company in the world.
2) Running on loose gravel at 11pm 6 miles into a 10 mile race didn’t go over very well will many runners. I didn’t mind it – but I heard the complaints as we shuffled through this unpaved area of the course.
3) Given the high humidity and heat, at least one additional water stop should have been added.
4) Don’t make the runners walk across the theme park to pick up their baggage post-race.
These aren’t big-time issues. Night races at Disney are not easy to pull off. I can understand the inherent complexity. Just fix the glitches and this one could be decent next year.
Next up for me: the 2012 Chicago Maratahon…where cooler temperatures, less humidity and 16.2 additional miles await.