runDisney Race Recap: Springtime Surprise Neverland 5K

The third annual Springtime Surprise Challenge Weekend took place at Walt Disney World from April 18-21, 2024. I had planned to participate in all of the race events for the third year in a row, but my plan didn't work out. Here's my recap for the 5K, the only race I was able to attend.

I was on holiday in South Africa during registration, and I didn't expect to have the Internet access or the time to get online during registration. However, on registration day the stars aligned for me and I was able to get in for the challenge. I was extremely excited to be in for the Springtime Surprise Challenge for the third year in a row and I was looking forward to starting my training plan later in the year.

A few months later, in December 2023, I had a health setback which derailed my training. Only cleared to run in April, I still planned to participate in the weekend as much as I could, with the idea to walk all events. I figured I could finish the 5K, hoped to finish the 10K, and guessed I would pull myself or get pulled off of the 10-Miler course. 

Expo: April 18, 2024
Everyone participating in a runDisney event needs to go to the Expo before race day to pick up the event bib(s) and shirt(s). Merchandise from runDisney and other vendors is also available at the Expo, which takes place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

I picked up my bib and shirts, and had a look around at the official merch and expo vendors. For this event I didn't do any of the photo ops; it seemed extra crowded when I was there and I wasn't feeling my best after a hot volunteer shift earlier in the day, my first back at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey since December.

I always want to do Star Wars mashups for these races; for the Neverland 5K I wore a simply themed performance top that mashes up Peter Pan with Admiral Ackbar: Never Grow Up It's a Trap! along with a Peter Pan styled visor hat.

For the Adventure is Out There 10K I had planned a black and white Russell/Wilderness Explorer mashup outfit with Star Wars logos. I didn't come up with a mashup for the 10-Miler and planned instead to wear my own I Just Can't Wait To Be Done t-shirt. I miss those Star Wars races so much! 

Race Day: April 19, 2024
I woke up with my 1:50AM alarm and was ready to hit the road at 2:15AM. I had the car parked at Epcot at 3:04AM. I was able to get a photo with Duffy and then stood in line for Peter Pan for the remainder of the time,  but they closed the line before I reached the front. I headed to corral E and watched the pre-show until it was time to start.

It was 66°F with 94% humidity when I crossed the start line in the first wave of corral E at 5:29AM.

Mile 1: 16:00
That's perfect Disney pace LOL! I jogged only a little bit here and there during this first mile, mostly to keep out of the way. Walkers should keep right and runners left, but there are a lot of different paces and I ended up walking far to the left a lot of the time, passing other walkers but getting in the way of runners at certain points. As always I did my best to stay out of the way of others.

Mile 2: 17:50
I didn't stop for any character photos but I took a few on the fly. A took a few videos as well but nothing good came out. I wasn't feeling great but tried to look like I wasn't dying when I went by PhotoPass.

Mile 3+: 18:35, 4:14
By the end of the race I was sweating profusely. About a week before race day I had blood draw to check my thyroid numbers. I didn't find out until after race weekend that my numbers had shifted from hyper- to hypothyroid, which may have contributed to my general lousy feeling during the 5K and following days.

After the Race
Was the finisher chute longer than usual? It felt like it. I continued feeling icky as I made my way out, getting my medal, lots of hydration, and runDisney snack box (with a new design -- I don't know when the redesign took place but the boxes were new to me). I skipped all post-race activities (finisher photos, adult beverage, character photos, etc) in favor of heading straight to my car to head home and rest. 

Saturday morning when my alarm went off at 2AM I felt sick and went back to sleep. Later I took a COVID test which ended up being negative. A few days later I was feeling better, but I was bummed about missing the 10K and 10-Miler altogether. When I found out the results of my blood test, I wondered if my hypothyroid-trending condition contributed to my exhaustion and sickness. My doctor adjusted my medication and I'll test my blood again in a couple of weeks to see if I can get back on the right track. 

Garmin time: 56:40
Race Amenities: Nice themed medal and race shirt
Cost: $485 for the three race challenge, of which I only did the 5K. Most expensive 5K ever


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