This past weekend I got to run the runDisney Tower of Terror 10 Miler. I would not be traveling and running with DisneyGroom this time, but with a friend. Also, this was my first time running a night-time race.
Preparation started the same as any other race. Costume and gear were laid out the day before.
|FLAT ME! Ready to run the next day!|
We headed to the Expo on Saturday morning. Even before entering the ESPN Wide World of Sports (WWoS) Complex, things felt very different from all of my previous runDisney weekends.
|Short and fast-moving line to enter Expo|
|Very small Expo. Packet pickup and vendors are in one space.|
|We ran into my friend Elizabeth and her son, Matt. |
He proudly showed off his first runDisney medal for a Kids Race.
I had sought out some advice about how to prepare for a night race. It was such simple advice, but surprisingly difficult to do. I headed back to hotel to rest up for evening race. I did my best to sleep and relax a few hours throughout the day, to be able to stay awake that night. I had a large greek salad for lunch and walked near my hotel for a half hour or so. It was a really beautiful day and it was very hard to not do more. But I knew I would be glad of it later... and I was.
Finally time to get dressed.
|One last pic before we leave for the race|
There was no parking near the start line - so we had to park at ESPN WWoS Complex and take a shuttle over to Disney Hollywood Studios. Fortunately there were a lot of buses and they kept taking off as soon as they were full.
|On the packed shuttle bus with other eager runners!|
We got to the Tent Village and mingled with the crowd. Unfortunately, we were about five minutes too late for Pre-Race photos with our online running friends. So we missed those.
I had been too busy up to this point to get nervous but I started to get a bit anxious. My training miles over the summer had only gotten up to six or seven miles. Flashback to my close encounter experience at the Princess Half Marathon... I began to worry about the sweepers.
||Start time approaches.|
We head to our corrals and begin to inch forward bit by bit.
|Can't think of a better way to start a race!|
|Our corral keeps scooting forward|
|Race announcers, Rudy Novotny and Carissa Bealert, have the best seat in the house!|
|At last, we are heading through the start gate|
And we're off! I didn't get a lot of photos DURING the race, well, because it was dark.
|Some strange lightning machine on the baseball field at WWoS|
|Am I dead? Nope, just already very tired.. somewhere between Miles 6 and 7|
Somewhere around Mile 6.5 the Balloon Ladies catch up to me. For those that don't know - the Balloon Ladies are the 16 minute/mile pacers for the race. They are two local runners that carry balloons and walk the various runDisney events. What is so significant about the Balloon Ladies? If you lag behind these pacers - then you are in danger of being swept. So now I had to pick up the pace.
I was doing 30/30 intervals. (Translation: run 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds). My interval timer kept going off and it was my reminder to stay on track. Well, I was tired and slow - but my Pavlovian conditioning worked. I continued my race.
|Malificent was just there! Then disappeared in a puff of smoke.|
And I continued...
At last I crossed the finish and made it to the Villains Bash. I was exhausted and there was a grassy area with many runners sprawled out. I lay down a few minutes and stretched. Then I got up, got a cold drink and was ready to enjoy the party... even if I had to shuffle like an old lady to do it. I reunited with my friend and we even found a few more people to hang out with to ride the rides.
|Found Princess Katie Oakley at the Villains Bash|
|Guess where we are?|
|Just a little place known as The Twilight Zone - showing off the bling!|
|All the way in the back - my eyes may have been closed... (photo used with permission from Katie Oakley)|
|My favorite photo of the night! at the Villains Bash|
|Toy Story Mania... check out the wait times! |
That will never happen again so long as I live, so I had to take a photo
My thoughts on the race itself:
- Course: The course began and ended at Disney Hollywood Studios. It looped around to Animal Kingdom and the ESPN Wide World of Sports - just to keep things interesting. There was a brief portion that was an off-road gravel trail. Several runners seemed to struggle through this portion. Actually when I went through, nearly everyone was walking, not running at all. Being accustomed to trail running myself, I actually liked this portion.
- Characters: Many runners commented that there were a lot more characters on this course than last year. I saw Malificent, the Evil Queen, Captain Hook, Dr. Facilier, Lotso, Cinderella's Stepmother and Stepsisters, Mulan's Shan Yu, Jack Skellington & Sally, zombies, Haunted Mansion's GraveDiggers, Big Bad Wolf, Cruella deVil, Jafar, Scar, the Lion King Hyenas, Ursula, Stitch, and more.
- Support: Lots of volunteers to help out and cheer for the runners and there were plenty of water stops. Like all runDisney events, I was offered water, Powerade, bananas, and a snack box at the finish.
- Corrals: runDisney added more corrals to this event and there were smaller numbers of runners in each. This made a huge difference in the actual beginning of the race. We moved quickly and seamlessly up to the start gate. You did have to be in your corral a lot earlier than the start time, because they were moved one at a time about 1/4 mile away. If you were not paying attention, your corral might have left and you got bumped back. I saw this happen to several runners.
- Bag claim: this may be the one part of the event I did not like. It was located in the Indiana Jones area... and was all the way on the other side of the park from the finish line. Normally not a big deal, but when it is the middle of the night and you just ran 10 miles... it wasn't exactly ideal.
- Villains Bash: Disney Hollywood Studios was open until 4AM! Rides included Aerosmith's Rocking Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, the Tower of Terror, and Star Tours. Bonus: Little to no lines. Also if you missed your favorite villains on the course - they were waiting for you in the park for photo ops. And then the late night dance party with the characters... I am a big fan of those - no matter how tired I am. We stayed until they shut the park down.
Just a few short months until Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and our next runDisney event. In the meanwhile, we've got a couple fun races coming up this month.
Did you run the Tower of Terror 10 Miler this year? If so, what was your favorite part?
Have you ever run a night time race?