I hesitate to say this, because I enjoy them so much, but I think runDisney 5Ks are honestly the best-kept secrets in all of the endurance series events. Sure, they do sell out, much like their longer-distance counterparts, but I think they are underrepresented and under-appreciated in some ways, though they are easily some of the most fun experiences around.
This year, I returned to the Jingle Jungle 5K (recap from 2012 here) as part of my full Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend experience…and let’s be real here – it gave me the perfect opportunity to get into the holiday spirit and wear Team Sparkle again! 😀
Since I’ve been taking the running pretty easy since Chicago, I didn’t go in with a time goal, but instead, a goal to keep a steady pace (between character pics of course) and have fun!
We stayed off-property the night before, so I drove in for the race, and since it was so early, I had no issues finding somewhere to park (in fact, I was parked in the first line of cars in the guest area). I stayed inside the warm car for a while, before starting a bit of a warm up jog around the parking lot.
The race had a 7 AM start, so I had tons of time to walk around and meet up with friends! I was happy to run into quite a few, and even take some fun pics with them and their festive holiday attire.
Around 45 minutes before the official start, I meandered into my corral and chatted with my friend Dani and her mama (can you believe that is her mom in the pic? Seriously!) and discussed races and running with my twitter pal, Bill. Before we knew it, the fun banter was beginning, harkening the start of the 5K…and we were OFF!
The course for this race lends itself for a pretty fast race, if you were planning on a PR (just remember the 5Ks are not timed!) and starts in a big stretch around the perimeter of the parking lot before it winds through the entrance of the park, and in a counterclockwise route through the park, before headed backstage and back out to the finish (same as start).
My favorite part about this race (other than seeing Santa Goofy, hehe) is the fact that it has THE BEST music! The extended track from the Jingle Jungle PARADE!!!!!!
Side/funny note: In the first mile, I was running next to a gal who looked really familiar – so I was trying to sneak a peek at her bib (for her name) but before I could confirm it was who I thought it was, she (Heather, my fast running friend from Facebook) exclaimed, “HEY! It’s YOU, Krissy!” Muahaha! I am so glad that it was her. LOL!!!! Then, after that, my other friend, Debbie came behind us and introduced herself, too! Hah! Another reason I love these races!!
But back to the race…
I wore my Garmin just so I could keep a bit of a record as to my performance, though I was surprised that I didn’t really look at it much during the race. I stopped four times (see pics) and was able to get some fun pics, so I was excited to see later that I had clocked a 25:30 time in 3.22 miles (7:56 average pace), which was right on par to where I wanted to be for this race.
After making my way through the finish chute, I walked around a bit and posted some of my pics to share online (including the cute bling, of course) and then saw that the line for pics with Mickey and Minnie was quite short so I had to get a pic there, too! 🙂
There, I ran into Debbie again, and had a great little convo with her, so that was fun! More fun facts – she currently lives in Portland, OR, but she has been on a quest this year to run EVERY runDisney event this year, and is writing a book about the experience! Cool, huh?
I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, and would recommend it to anyone – beginner, novice or even pro runner (this year’s winner of the WDW Marathon, Brazilian runner Fredison Costa was leading the pack that morning – so cool to see him blazing the trail!). The size is manageable, and there is great course support and organization – plus a 7 AM start is a lot friendlier than a 5 AM one for some of the bigger races (or 10 PM for night races, haha). Since runners can enter as young as age 5, it can also be a great family activity, and a rare chance to see the park empty-ish – so check it out, if you can! 🙂
Have you ever participated in a runDisney 5K?