Thursday, March 14, 2013

Royal Family 5k - run, don't walk!

For our second year in a row, Adam and I decided to sign up for the 5k the day before the big race.  Last year, it was just the two of us and we "wogged."  By my 6th month of pregnancy, I was having some major hip issues that prohibited me from actually running (and many days, walking was painful).

The 5k "Fiesta" had all of the runners in one large corral and started in 2 waves - basically, some people started running, the rest of us walked forward and started about 5 minutes later, with the strollers hanging out at the back.  During the race, people running with strollers would pass us or be near us, but we stopped for many pictures and took about 45 minutes to complete the 3.1 mile course.

This year, for the Royal Family 5k, the experience was quite different.

I delayed entering the boys in the kids dashes, as the runDisney website said it was only about 80% full.  Sadly, that 20% was only for the Mickey Mile - my boys are way too young for that.  To make sure they were involved (or at least the big one!), we registered for the stroller division and figured we would take Noah and maybe Zachary, depending on how he was handling sleep.

When the morning came, we left Zachary with my parent and took Noah to the bus along with our stroller.  After a bit of confusion (hey, it was 5 a.m. I confuse easily, especially on little sleep!), we met up with Mary from Capturing Magical Memories and she decided to forgo her "higher" corral and start with us in the stroller division.  We had all done runDisney 5k's in the past - Mary had previously pushed a stroller as well - so we didn't worry about time at all.

Unfortunately, the race didn't work as smoothly as in the past.  In an attempt to organize the large amount of runners in the 5k (definitely more runners than in the past), the decided to do 3 big corrals and 3 big starts - with a lot of time in between.

So much time, in fact, that when we finally started, I would guess the majority of the first corral was crossing the finish line and the clock was past 45 minutes before we even started.  People that were walking up literally an hour after we were supposed to be there started with us easily!

We laughed and smiled at the clock telling us we had been running for over an hour by the time we reached the 1 mile mark.  I thought very little about it, though my mommy nature worried a little about how baby Z would handle an all formula bottle (he had previously had only 1) taken from my parents who he didn't really know.  But, other than that, I figured that they started us super-duper late, we would have no worries about finishing.

The problems came much later - we did this race so Noah could "run" a 5k.  And, there were times he got out of his stroller to run.  We were never at the very back of the pack, but obviously we weren't sprinting.  We had been told that there would be no running with the strollers as is, so we assumed that we wouldn't have to rush.

We realized that we never passed the Mile 2 marker - instead of "sweeping" us for being too slow, they cut the course short.  Instead of going behind the scenes in the World Showcase, we stayed in the front.  Honestly, with 13.1 miles looming in the future, I didn't really mind losing .5 mile walk, but still, it seemed a bit odd.

Then came time for us to take pictures with characters.  But wait - the characters have to leave, they've been out too long.  We did get to meet a couple of characters, but we were definitely hassled by some cast members (apparently, not all cast members are happy working early in the morning - not the general case, but we encountered a few who needed to find a happy place) that we were too slow, didn't have time for pictures, or they wouldn't take picture with our cameras - only allowing the professional and highly overpriced photogs take our pics.

So let's look at this again:

  • 5k non-timed family 'fun' run
  • Put the families with the kids at the very back
  • Start them 45+ minutes late
  • Tell the stroller division not to run
  • Cut the course short
  • Having the characters leave early, before many families can get to meet them
Something just didn't add up.  We found a wonderful managerial cast member who said she's often in the meetings and would voice our concerns, but I have to admit, we were quite frustrated with the experience.  It was less magical than previous events and I'm not sure we would participate in a 5k again, at least not in the stroller division.

To me, it seemed as though they were trying to be more organized which I respected and appreciated, but somehow the family division of the family fun run got left in the dirt.  I honestly believe this situation will be solved - the runDisney team is incredible, but as with anything, it's trial and error and we sadly experienced some of the errors in this experience.

But, in the end, watching Noah receive a medal made it all worth it.  

We all ran across the finish line - even Mary - and the medal is fantastic.

runDisney - we had a disagreement, but I still love you.  Friends?


  1. I had heard that from a couple people that the 5k was disappointing. That is too bad for sure!

  2. Great, honest review of the event. Disney has struck gold with the ever-growing and hugely popular runDisney events... I would think they'd appreciate this kind of constructive feedback. Gotta keep those families with kids in the mix and happy, too - it's DISNEY, for goodness sakes! :)

    Love the medal shot - what a cool experience for your son!