Walt Disney World 5K

Fireworks are let off as each corral starts.

Yesterday was perfect running weather: a little chilly with a light breeze and plenty of sun…so naturally I did an hour’s interval training on a treadmill. That was followed by a deep tissue massage with a masseuse who told me uncannily detailed descriptions of injuries up to 30 years old based on a gentle rubbing of my various joints, including a precise description of the football tackle 20 years ago that put me out of action for 10 months. Pitcho Monzili is his name. If you’re ever in the Orlando area, look him up – part of the time he’s at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.

But that was yesterday. Today in the holiday paradise of Orlando, the perpetually warm climate of Florida, the same place predicted to hit 27C on Sunday (marathon day) my family and I ventured out into literally freezing temperatures for the 5K “Fun Run”. It was fortunate that we’d come via England on this trip as I can’t imagine I’d have packed my turtleneck, long-sleeved running top if we were coming straight from Cayman.

My wife Rachael, 12 year old athletic son Jude and I were all placed in corral A, which was great news. Unfortunately my 8 year old daughter Alice was placed in corral F and the ladies at the entrance to corral A didn’t have the time to consider our plight – we all had to go to F. In the normal warm weather, that would have been a little annoying, but the cold wind today was so biting it made me want to turn around and go home.

Huddling together for warmth is tough for our family. One of us is 8 years old, loves cuddles but is much too small to IMG_2458meaningfully contribute much heat. Another is a boy aged 12 with insanely fast metabolism and great heat-generating properties, but for whom cuddling is anathema. And one of us stole my gloves.

When our corral finally made it to the starting chute, and shortly after I resisted the temptation to loudly and facetiously respond to the starter’s enthusiastic shout of, “How y’all doing?!”, we were off. Walking, shuffly, hobbling, trotting along trying to use the first part of the run as the warmup we weren’t able to do. Around us, people who’d brought heating blankets from other runs were still wearing them past the first mile marker. It was at the 1-mile marker I noticed a couple doing the ‘Dopey Challenge’ (5K, 10K, 13.1miles and 26.2miles on consecutive days). They were grinning and pointing at the sign – only another 47 of those and they’d be done…

The massive, rubber 5K medal.

Spectators were thin on the ground – both of them. One, a crazed old lady in some backlot area screaming her lungs out…no wait, she was the only one. But a couple of cops and a security guard did get into the spirit of things.

One of the most sought-after elements of these runs is the series of Disney character photo ops. The first one was [wotsername] the cat – about half a mile in and still in the car park – but there people were having their photo taken. The queues were longer as we went along until at one point you had people lined up for about 40 yards waiting to have their picture taken. A disproportionate number of them were adult tutu-wearers, and hardly any of them were children – presumably because children aren’t completely nuts and wouldn’t want to do that.

Except of course Jude, of whose craziness I am increasingly proud. Today at a water stop, where I made a “Where’s the hot chocolate?!” wisecrack, he took a cup of the almost-freezing water, shouted “Ice cup challenge!!” and poured it over his own head. Genius.


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