No, we’re not in Florida for this race, and my husband was pretty upset about missing it. Last year was his second year at Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon, and it was definitely his favorite Disney race. When he heard about this being the last year for the Osborne Lights, he was devastated that he would miss his last opportunity to run through them once more. We could have done a last minute trip, but the registration for this race sold out in record time, mostly due to the fact that this was Disney’s first year without the Tower of Terror 10 Miler, which left many racers fighting online for this race.
One year ago today was race day for my husband and I. If you remember from my previous post, I’m not a long distance runner, so I did the 5K in the morning and my husband did the half at night, while our daughter did her first runDisney race in between. The weather in the morning was a little chilly, but dry as I ran through Animal Kingdom. It had warmed up a bit for Kenzie’s Diaper Dash at ESPN Wide World of Sports a few hours later. But by that evening, the rain had moved in and threatened a significant delay to my husband’s race.
He had found out that night, that they could have delayed the start as late as 3AM, 5 hours after the scheduled start time. After 3AM, they would cancel the race and runners would leave empty handed. runDisney’s policy states that no refunds are given in the event of a cancelation, which runners agree to when they sign up for a race. I can only imagine how upset 12,000+ runners would be if they had to leave empty handed. Fortunately, the lightning moved out and his race began after a short delay. It was a very wet run for him. He was completely soaked when he was finished. Since the weather was cooler this time of year last year (it is unseasonably warm right now!), he was also freezing cold. He came back to our resort with our first runDisney space blanket.
Last night’s race posed some weather challenges once again. Not only did the forecast include rain, but also warmer temperatures that could create some running and/or health issues with many runners. It brought me back to the first Tower or Terror 10 Miler, where I was registered to run, but backed out at the last minute because I didn’t properly train. Probably one of the best decisions I have made. Well, the dropping out, not the not training part. It was hot and humid that night, and the race ended early for hundred of runners, who ended up on stretchers or very, very ill. Those not used to training in Florida heat and humidity were at a huge disadvantage and not at all aware of how quickly they could become dehydrated in conditions such as those. I remember waiting for my husband at the finish line and hearing all Florida runners leading the way. Yeah, they were definitely used to running in weather like this.
I was awake last night, hoping to follow along with some friends that were running and cheer them on. Shortly after 9PM, all the runners were evacuated from the corrals to safety, due to severe weather conditions. The race eventually started at 10:45, with a shortened course. The final course ended up being close to 7 miles, and had many runners livid. Um…why?
I can understand being upset if you were counting on this race as a qualifying time for another race, but these people are upset with runDisney. That, I cannot understand. runDisney made their decisions based on several factors, and had runner safety as their top priority. People often forget that large events like this call for the need to close public roads for the course, and contracts with the city/county have major influence with start times so they can make sure the roads are cleared. This is why you might hear about pacing requirements being enforced during certain times or in certain areas more than others. If runners are not interfering with road traffic, they are less likely to sweep you. I honestly can’t recall if I’ve heard of anyone being swept at the Expedition Everest 5Ks.
One post I read even suggested a conspiracy to get runners to the party sooner so they could spend more money. Um….no. I don’t think Disney has an agreement with God or Mother Nature and has any influence on using the weather to their advantage.
There are going to be conditions beyond our control that change our ideal plan of how things should go. I understand that people are disappointed and upset, but there is really no one to blame, here.
I read about runners on the various Facebook pages wanting to return their “I did it!” shirts, because they feel they have failed. I tried to remind one girl that the race is just the victory lap, and she did “do it” by following through with her commitment and dedication to her training. There are people out there that will run a race with absolutely zero training, and will proudly wear their medal along with their “I did it!” shirt the next day, when there are countless others who actually put the work into that race. People suffer muscle and joint injuries, blisters, friction burns, and stress preparing for a race like that. Those are the people that cross the finish line victorious, no matter the distance. A finish line is a finish line, and those people earned those shirts.
Congratulations to all the finishers last night!