Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tower of Terror 10 miler - Part 2

Ok, this is my last Tower of Terror 10 Miler post :) But I figured a couple medium length posts was probably better than one giant post.  So let's get right into it.

1.  Course - The course wasn't my favorite part of this race.  The gathering place for the start is in the parking lot of Hollywood Studios.  You then run on the highway from there to the Animal Kingdom.  There is a ramp onto the highway that is banked so that you're running on an uneven surface and one leg is significantly higher than the other.  This was pretty uncomfortable but I had been warned about it in advance.  The good part of being on the highway is that people had room to spread out.  So while it was crowded and you had to do some weaving, you could run at your own pace for the most part.

Once you get to the Animal Kingdom, you turn around and go right back down the highway. You do not enter the park sadly. You go back down the highway to the ESPN Wide World of Sports. We entered the sports complex somewhere after mile 5.  There is a trail section here that I had been warned about in advance of the race but I didn't find it to be too bad.  It felt like a dirt trail and it wasn't too long.  It was dimly lit in places but never so dark that I felt like I couldn't see or like I needed a flashlight. The only downside is that it was a narrow trail and there was a lot of congestion in this section.  I tried to run it when I could but finally gave up and just walked along with everyone else around me.

Then we were in the stadium but for some reason this part is a bit of a blur to me.  I know we ran around a track and then we ran around in the baseball stadium and then we ran out of the sports complex and back on to the highway.  There was another banked ramp going down and I have to say that I walked most of it because I just didn't feel comfortable running on such an uneven surface with one foot so much higher than the other.

We entered into Hollywood Studios somewhere after mile 8 and ran around various back stage and on stage areas of the park until we finished at mile 10 in view of the Tower of Terror.  Overall, the course was mostly flat except for the highway ramp sections.  And the problem there wasn't the elevation change but the way the ramps were banked.

There was also a long walk from the corral to the starting line and a long walk after the finish line.  You could not stop during this line, you were herded on and on and on.  You received your medal, some water, a banana, a box of food (really yummy) but had to keep walking.  At that point, it felt like we were walking forever in a slowly shuffling mass until we got to a point where people went left for the bag check or park exit and right for the after party.  In hindsight, the long walk was probably good for my muscles as I was barely sore the next day but it was pretty miserable in the moment.

2. Entertainment - I was listening to a podcast earlier this week which said they thought the entertainment was lacking on the course.  I was shocked because I thought it was amazing how much entertainment they had managed to squeeze onto the 10 miles!  I guess it truly depends on your perspective.  And this was the first Disney race I had done so I didn't have much to compare it to.

There were a ton of characters, all villains to go along with the theme, on the course.  I remember the hag from Snow White, Jafar, the Queen of Hearts, Dr. Facilier, the Hyenas from the Lion King, Stitch, the Big Bad Wolf and Lotso.  I'm sure there are some I'm missing.  There were also characters from the Boo to You Halloween parade such as the grave diggers and the ballroom dancers.  And Hades was on an overpass as we ran back to Hollywood Studios taunting runners as they passed by.  He was hilarious. The lines were really long for most of them so the only one I actually got a photo with was Lotso.  But I did stop by the side of the road to take photos of some of the others.

There was also creepy atmospheric stuff.  For example, there was a giant spider on an overpass into Animal Kingdom and spiderwebs projected onto the wall.

There were animal noises as we ran into the Animal Kingdom area.  There was a giant inflatable eye ball and spooky music in a lake that we ran by twice while on the highway. The trail area had smoke and giant bugs in the trees. The baseball field at the ESPN area had lasers and empty baseball uniforms on the field as if the lasers had taken out the players.  You could also see yourself on the giant screen as you ran by and that was cool.

Hollywood studios was fun because you were actually in the park.  There was lots of crowd support in this area from volunteers and spectators.  There was a tunnel you ran through with smoke and music.  There was also an area where you were running through a portion of the backlot tour and could see the costuming area.  So as you can tell, I thought the entertainment was great for a 10 mile race! Even the mile markers were fun and themed with villains.

I will put in a reminder to make sure you know how your camera/phone works in the dark if you want to take photos.  As you can see, I didn't do so well with mine.  It took me some time to figure out how to get the flash to go on.

3.  After Party - as I mentioned, I didn't stay at the party after finishing the race.  But Mike was there for a couple hours so he's going to take over here to talk about the party :)

Mike here! (Hi!)

I got to the after party right around when it started at 10. The main attraction was the DJ set up at the giant Wizard hat. There were about 6 attractions open (Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, Muppet Vison 3D, the Tower of Terror, the Rockin' Roller Coaster, and some Jack Sparrow based show). Additionally there were meet and greets for a number of the Disney villains (I remember The Evil Queen (from Snow White), The Queen of Hearts, Malificent, Gaston, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett). There were also a couple of shops and food places open. A lot of the park was cut off by the running route, so it was a bit of walk getting around.

It was really quiet when I got there. I was able to walk on to Toy Story and Star Tours and I could sit anywhere I wanted for Muppets. I stayed away from the Tower of Terror/Rockin Roller Coaster area as that was where the finish line was. As the evening progressed things got filled up with runners but it was never too crowded.

As a race observer, it was a little difficult because progress was texted to me at 5k and 10k. After I got the 10k notification, I made my way to a quiet area near where the runners were entering the park. I liked this better than observing at the DJ because I was able to yell a specific cheer to Chaitali as she passed by (which she appreciated). The downside was that with the convoluted way around the studio I got the text that she had finished just as I got there, so I missed her finishing. There were also issues with sorting out where the runners were coming out. There was a family waiting area and a changing area, but the runners were apparently released no where near either of those places. Chaitali wasn't in the best f shape when she finished so she called me to come get her. 

Overall it was an interesting little party, but a little confusing from the race watching aspect.

So that's it for our experience of this race.  Overall, we both had a good time.  Afterward, I decided that I probably wouldn't do this race again just because I wanted to experience other Run Disney races.  I was definitely impressed enough that I would choose to do another race at Disney World and we're thinking of going down next November for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  But it seems like they won't be having this race next year anyway, perhaps because of the rumors that there will be some major changes at Hollywood Studios.