Michelle: Starting Leg 2
Leg 1 runners came in off of the main road towards the Relay Exchange area and after meeting them, Leg 2 runners did a hairpin turn and moved back out onto the road, where we met the marathon runners at mile 13.1. After I ran over the chip-timing mat to signify the start of Leg 2, I was on my way.
Right away I noticed a few things....first of all, my legs were very stiff from running the Half Marathon the day before (and the 5K the day before that) and were not happy with the prospect of running again. It took a few miles before they said, “Ok, Michelle...let’s do this!”
Mike: Leg 1 Complete
I turned and watched Michelle run until she was out of sight. I looked around the Relay Exchange area. There weren’t too many people around. In fact, there were more volunteers and cast members than guests or runners. It was very quiet. I received my Chip and Dale medal and went over to get my bag, which Michelle had checked for me earlier in the morning. They saw me coming and had the bag waiting for me.
Michelle: Leg 2 Observations
I noticed that because I was running the second half of a marathon, there were more frequent water and food stops. At nearly every mile there was water and Powerade, bananas, GU gels, and, while running through Disney's Hollywood Studios we were given (my personal favorite) Hershey’s miniature chocolates. A fellow runner and I agreed, “This is the best tasting chocolate EVER!” And we had earned it.
Mike: Back to EPCOT
After retrieving my bag from bag check, I boarded a bus for EPCOT. Once I got to EPCOT I had some nourishment in the form of Powerade, a protein bar, and a banana. During the race I had consumed two gel packs and one water bottle.
I walked to my car and checked my phone for updates to see how my partner and others were doing but the updates were spotty that day. I knew there were several friends along the course so I asked them to text me when Michelle passed them.
I relaxed in the car and then headed for the stretch run area, which is about 100 yards from the finish. Along the way I met up with a few other members of Team AllEars who had run that day, and we all waited for Michelle.
Michelle: Leg 2 Warming Up
There were a lot more medical tents on this leg of the race, which made sense, as those who were running the full marathon would need more attention at that point. I made use of the medical folks several times, as I needed ample supplies of Bio Freeze for my sore neck. I'm happy to report that, despite the rising temperatures as the morning went along, I did not see many injured runners.
Mike: Waiting for Michelle
As we waited I thought about the differences between the two legs, and one thought entered my mind. Runner 1 enjoys the fanfare start and runs through the castle while Runner 2 most likely would get more frequent and better nourishment, and enjoy the big crowds waiting at the finish in EPCOT.
Michelle: A New Course
The race route was very different than what I had seen the day before. Leg 2 runners were lucky enough to experience new sights as we ran through Animal Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios, and back into EPCOT.
Another nice change was the entertainment along the way. What I saw on the second leg of the race were things that were different than I'd seen at any other WDW race. There were hysterical "Florida tourists" (whom I suspect were Citizens of Hollywood), gravediggers along the side of the road with a mock cemetery (some runners were even brave enough to lie down, have their photo taken, and get up and run again),
...handlers with critters at Animal Kingdom (how many times can you get your photo taken with a donkey while running a long distance race? Not many, I'd wager!). In addition, there were lots of characters -- Mr. Incredible, pirates, and I’d soon discover, Goofy and Donald at the finish line.
Mike: Waiting at the Finish
I knew Michelle enjoyed warm weather, but also knew that today could be an issue for her, not to mention she had participated in a 5K race on Friday and the half marathon the day before; and she was battling some issues with her legs so she was wise enough to figure out just how fast she could go without injuring herself.
One of our team members spotted Michelle entering EPCOT and I knew she would soon be heading for Spaceship Earth and the Finish Line.
She finished with a smile on her face and a sense of accomplishment that all runners feel when they hit another milestone or threshold.
I returned the favor and took a photo of her as she approached the home stretch.
That smile paled in comparison to when she found Donald and Goofy waiting for her at the Finish Line.
Michelle: FInal Thoughts
I did one other inaugural race -- the WDW Wine and Dine 1/2 Marathon -- in 2010. I was a bit hesitant about doing another one. Inaugural races are tough (and I think this goes for all races, not just Disney races). The Chip & Dale Marathon Relay had its kinks, but, aside from the hours of waiting at the Relay Exchange area (which runDisney really needs to rethink), and a few issues in communication, this was a fun race and I'd recommend it.
We enjoyed coming up with a team name and a team shirt idea (a big virtual high five to our buddy, artist Chris Eliopololus, who not only designed our team logo, but also ran his first marathon that day himself).
And the bling…well, it's a mighty fine medal to add to the collection.
Mike: Final Thoughts
I was pleasantly surprised by how well this Inaugural Marathon Relay worked, and the best complement I can bestow upon this race is that I would do it again in a minute. I would even go so far as to say if I had to choose between the WDW Half Marathon and the Marathon Relay, I would do the relay, hands down. Nice job RunDisney.
The previous post in this blog was The Inaugural Chip & Dale Marathon Relay: A Review Part 1.
The next post in this blog is My First 5K!.