Finally getting back from our trip to Disney where I was able to run the 2018 Dopey Challenge then enjoy a week of race recovery and the parks with my family. Would have posted the recap a little faster, but managed to come down with some sort of Disney Super-Flu, so this is the first day that I’ve actually felt like sitting in front of the computer.
We will see how long this post ends up, might split it into two or three depending on how long it gets. (Spoiler, it’s getting split at least into two, possibly three!)
Trip down was way more stressful than it needed to be. About 12 hours before our flight down time (a 5:30am-ish flight) I got an email from Southwest that our flight had been cancelled….as I was in line ordering dinner with my wife. Long story short, looks like Southwest decided to cancel all of their flights for the next day because of an impending blizzard of 1-3 inches of snow that was to hit the Buffalo area. I know…I thought it was odd that they felt they couldn’t handle that snowfall (for those that don’t know, Buffalo can usually handle that) but I didn’t have time to argue that point. I will also give Southwest credit here, in the end I did appreciate the heads up well in advance so I had time to make alternate arrangements, and they also gave us zero hassles about refunding the cost of everyone’s tickets, which was great of them. Sometimes airlines can be jerks, but do have to hand it to Southwest for being decent about it!
Quickly scanned my options, and managed to luck into a direct flight from Toronto to Orlando, leaving about an hour after we had been scheduled to depart, that actually ended up being CHEAPER to boot than flying out of Buffalo, which is normally not the case thanks to airport taxes in Toronto. Again, not questioning it, booked the flights so at least I knew we were getting there!
Everything else was great getting to Disney, while the flight was delayed in leaving a bit, the plane wasn’t full so we got all three seats to just my wife and I, bag pickup at the airport went well, and were able to get to our hotel at Disney smoothly with Disney’s Magical Express. We were staying in Port Orleans Riverside, got checked in, building we had requested and everything perfectly, so all was looking up. My wife and I left the rest of the family at the resort to relax while we went to the Expo.
One thing I really have to hand it to Disney is they take the guesswork and hassle of moving around their property out of the equation, and getting to the Expo was no different. They augment their already huge bus infrastructure (WDW runs the third largest bus fleet in Florida if you didn’t know) with rental coaches from Mears that shuttle Expo visitors to and from the hotels. While there are many varying opinions on having to bus around the WDW property, this is one perk that I really enjoy on property, not having to worry about the expense of renting a car, nor having to navigate the roadways within the World.
The Expo experience itself was decent. Disney had changed up how they organized people picking up their bibs, and had one place for the 5 and 10k runners, another for the half and full runners, and yet a third spot for the Challenge runners (those running either Goofy or Dopey). Since the Challenge lineup was the longest, my wife and I hopped in that line first, just in case it decided to get longer as the day went on. Despite the long length of the line (it snaked back on itself 4 times before even entering the building) it was constantly moving, so wasn’t too bad.
Once we actually got to the bib pickup area the process was simple, there was one person in line at the booth that my number block was in, and we quickly picked up my two bibs for Dopey, got my photo taken to prove I am me after finishing the challenge, and were directed on where to go to pick up my shirts. That was another painless experience, and after giving a quick size-check to make sure the shirts would fit properly, we were off to pick up my wife’s 5k bib, and then do some shopping in yet another building with the vendors.
Our first stop was to head down to the spot to check out the official runDisney merchandise as I wanted to see if I could pick up some of the mini-medal pins for my kids since they are both into pin trading. As we were heading down the steps my wife pointed out this huge line and wondered aloud, “Gee, I wonder what THAT line is for?” We were guessing possibly for the half and full packet pickup, but found out when we got to the bottom of the stairs that no, it was actually the line to get INTO the runDisney merch area, and a helpful volunteer at the door indicated that it would be about an hour to an hour and a half in that lineup – we were NOT about to wait that long, so we reversed course and headed into the regular vendor area, as there were a couple things I wanted to check out and buy before heading back to the hotel. Luck was once again in my favour, not only was the Expo not terribly busy (in usual run Expo terms) but all of the vendors that were a “must see” from me were all in the same general area. So hit up the Hoka booth to check out some footwear, popped by CEP to pick up some new calf sleeves, checked out “the Stick” to see if it was what I was looking for in a rolling tool (it sadly wasn’t) and then we headed back to our hotel to relax for the evening and get ready for the 5k the next day!
Next post I’ll start going into more of the race details!