I usually wait until the end of a race weekend to do a full recap, but figured it was worth giving the Rival Run 5K rundown earlier since the weather made things a bit more…interesting…than usual.
Things started out normally. I drove over to Epcot and arrived at around 3:20 a.m. People were lining up outside of the bag check area but it wasn't mobbed yet. They let us in starting at 3:30 a.m.
I headed right over to the character meet & greets since there were no lines yet. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Jabba, Kylo Ren, an Ewok, BB-8, and K2SO were there – we'll see if anyone new is at the 10K tomorrow. I was able to hit Kylo Ren, the Ewok, BB-8, and K2SO with little to no lines.
These are all just the pictures from my phone since the PhotoPass character pictures haven't come up yet.
Then I waited for Darth Vader and Boba Fett before having to go to corrals – leaving only Jabba to grab after the race.
Then I met up with my amazing running team for a team picture before heading to corrals.
We got to corrals without any issues and were listening to the announcers. It was a few minutes after 5:30 a.m. – the supposed start time – and we still hadn't heard the National Anthem, etc., so we just figured things were running a few minutes late. We knew that rain was in the forecast starting at around 7 (according to our weather apps) but figured we'd be long done and back home by then. At that point it was actually a really lovely morning. Sort of room temperature and breezy.
I wasn't fully tuned into the announcers but then realized that they were saying that the area was being evacuated immediately for electrical storms. I actually mentally checked the date for a minute because it seemed like an April Fool's joke at first.
People piled into the busses parked near the corrals. We hovered for a bit trying to figure out what was going on. A bit later the wind picked up and the temperatures dropped pretty drastically. The runDisney folks announced that that wasn't a good sign and reiterated the evacuation.
We eventually made our way to one of our cars. Soon after we got in, the sky opened up with some seriously powerful storms.
We sat there for over an hour. It's rare that I get that kind of down time with this group of ladies so truth told it was pretty amazing.
Everyone seemed to be trying to get online for information because our phone connections were pretty nonexistent. It had been well over an hour and we slowly realized that there was no way that they were going to be getting all 20K or so of us back through security and into corrals in time for the race to happen, and finish, before the parks opened. Other people seemed to be reaching the same conclusions, because we started seeing people give up and leave.
Then we saw people start to walk back to the corrals and were told that they were unloading the busses back into the corrals. We later saw this email. I assume we didn't see it at the time because of connection issues.
We trekked back in the drizzle. Which quickly became a downpour again.
At the end of the day, they ended up releasing the wheelchair participants first and then releasing ALL of the runners as one massive wave at a bit after 7 a.m. – no corral splits, much less mini waves within corrals – onto the course at the same time. It was pouring at this point, so of course there were no characters on the course. And there were so many deep puddles that our shoes and socks were soaked through. But honestly it was some of the most fun I've ever had on a course just because it was so ridiculous and I was getting through it with good friends.
And even though there were no Disney characters on the course, there were apparently some good samaritans that had shown up in costume – and they were happy to pose for pictures with us just before the finish outside of Epcot.
They ended up cutting out the turns toward Future World East and West and just having us go straight to the finish, so the race was just about 2.6 miles instead of 3.1.
And then, as if it was planned, after we collected our medals and finisher pictures…
Of course the meet and greet characters from earlier weren't back out because of the rain. But Jabba was – because he was just a huge art installation!! Lol. And he was the only one I hadn't gotten before.
All in all, it was a crazy morning but it was also pretty amazing. From waiting in the car being clueless to standing in the rain to running through Epcot in a downpour with thunder booming in the distance – it was one of the most memorable runs I've ever done on property, even if it was a wee 2.6 miles.
I want to commend runDisney and the amazing volunteers working this morning for navigating an unimaginably difficult situation. I cannot imagine what the ultimate decisionmakers were faced with this morning – both in deciding whether or not to have the race at all and also in figuring out how in the world to make it happen if they did.
At the same time, I've seen so many people online giving would be runners a hard time for objecting to Disney's not giving medals to those that ended up not running. Understand that I get this sentiment. I wouldn't want a medal for a race I didn't run. But at the same time – there were countless people out there this morning that had trained hard for this race and for them a 5K was not an insignificant distance. Any race is hundreds of miles. The ones run on the official course are just the last few. I sat in the car with friends this morning, even as a seasoned runDisney runner, and had no idea what was going on. We were unable to get information – and that was absolutely no one's fault, but as the minutes ticked by with little to no access to information we started not to be able to imagine how the timing could possibly work to have the race, and we came close to leaving too.
So while I understand not getting a medal for a race that you haven't run, my heart also goes out to anyone that trained hard for this only to walk into their first 5K, think that it was canceled, and then leave – only to miss the chance to get the medal that they'd worked so hard for.
And that, my friends, is the story of the splash and dash 5K that almost wasn't.
I hope that everyone else running this weekend has an AMAZING experience. I'll see you out there!!