Picking up where I had left off in my Expo recap, I barely slept for three nights, but once three cups of coffee slapped the fog from my brain, I was ready to go and so excited about this race!
Like, really, really excited because A.) I love Christmas, B.) I love the Animal Kingdom, C.) we got to run through AK with Christmas decorations, and D.) seeing folks wearing their cute 5k medallions last year made me green and red with envy.
So as usual, I was on the very first bus from Beach Club although unfortunately, this meant sitting by someone wearing a gallon of cologne. Gag. Once we arrived at the Animal Kingdom parking lot, I hightailed it to the character photo lines that weren’t bad but would quickly grow longer. Some friends joined me for a visit with Mickey and Minnie wearing adorable holiday sweaters!
Now, about the above picture. runDisney photographers and the camera crew took quite a few shots of us here, making me hope that one of my runDisney bucket list items … to be in their recap video … would come true. But nope, it didn’t, but it’s still one of my favorite photos from the weekend!
We soon parted ways and I headed to my corral early to get a good spot near the front. Have I firmly established just how excited I was to run this race? My inner child was going berserk by this time. You can tell in my recap video’s pre-race commentary since I’m sporting some rather vibrant crazy eyes. Or maybe it was sleep deprivation, who knows, whatever the case … I was ready to run!
(Skip to 01:36 if you’d like to see just Jingle Jungle.)
Oh, and have I mentioned the weather yet? It was hot and humid. Like, really hot and humid, so my game plan was pretty simple: Bust a move, stop for every character and mile marker, then continue busting a move.
Pretty soon, it was almost time to go! The starting banner (or whatever you call them) is one of the cutest I’ve seen so far and instead of fireworks, they fired off shots of steam because of the nearby animals. Really cute.
The course first looped us around the Animal Kingdom parking lot, with our first mile marker being at the entrance. Since there were no photo opportunities, I hit that mile pretty hard, wanting to get to the characters before lines grew long–08:37 according to the first mile marker. They did have a water stop at around .75 and I was sure to so down for two cups because of the heat.
Around the 2 mile point, they had another water stop, the second of only two. This surprised me – because of the heat and humidity, they should have had a third.
GREAT character stops, though!
Before I knew it, the race was over, with me finishing somewhere between the 32-34 range, judging from my Mile 3 photo. Did the Jingle Jungle 5k meet my high and excited expectations?
Yes. Oh my gosh yes.
It is by FAR my favorite runDisney 5k experience yet and I loved every minute of it! Well, there were a few minutes I did not love – when the course double backed before the Mile 2 mark and I saw how insanely crowded it was for those runners just entering Animal Kingdom. I wish all participants from the first corral to the last could have the same race experience.
Still, I loved this race and I’ll be sad to miss 2016’s. Maybe it’s foolish to run a 5k the morning of a half marathon but whatever, it was worth it!
After shooting some very unflattering post-race commentary, (really should look into Botox,) I got another photo with Mickey & Minnie plus one with the DJ who wore the cutest jacket and matching hat.
I would like to say that after this, I was a mature, responsible runner who went back to the resort to hydrate and rest, but nah, there were friends to see and memories to make so I headed to Magic Kingdom to join them instead, sleep deprived and all.
Next up, a very unusual Wine & Dine Half Marathon!
Thanks for reading, and if you’re thinking of signing up for this year’s Jingle Jungle … DO IT!!