ORLANDO — There’s an expression that employees of Walt DisneyWorld – dubbed “cast members” – say here after most of their interactions with you: “Have a magical day.” While appropriate in the normally magical place, the closing left many runners who traveled to Orlando for the Walt DisneyWorld Marathon this weekend with other sentiments. One runner waiting in a bus line after the race said quite plaintively, “The Happiest Place on Earth isn’t feeling very magical today.”
The 2010 Walt DisneyWorld Marathon goes in the record books as one of the coldest and most uncomfortable on record. With temperatures well below freezing, the pre-dawn darkness settled like a frigid blanket over the masses that waited for the start of the race, many of whom had come from cold climates for a warmer weather race.
In the hour before the half-marathon Saturday, freezing rain– light snowflakes that seemed to disappear before they hit the ground – fell quietly out of the pitch darkness of night. Runners later described the freezing rain/as feeling like running grains of sand as they cut through the cold, dark night.
What normally is a dream-like opportunity to run through Walt Disney’s theme parks became a bit more of a wintery nightmare.
A long wait out in the cold
The uncomfortably cold temperatures were perhaps exasperated by the unique nature of the DisneyWorld marathon’s event schedule. In order to get the parks open around their normal operating times, both the half and full marathons start at 5:30 in the morning. And to facilitate road closures for the course, runners are required to be at the staging area at Epcot Center well before this time. Busses from hotels pick up runners between 3:00 and 4:00AM, meaning that many runners were dropped off as much as two hours before the race start.
To continue reading about the 2010 Walt DisneyWorld Marathon, click here.