Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Inaugural Race

Saturday night was the inaugural Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler at Walt Disney World.

Overall, it was good – I pretty much nailed my pace and target time, so that was especially good considering the heat and humidity (it was still low 80s or high 70s with humidity somewhere around 85% or so even at 10pm).

Was there room for improvement? Of course. There always is. I’ll just bullet point my thoughts/observations.

* It’s a race in September, so the heat and humidity was really to be expected. I saw lots of runners who had no clue how to adjust for the conditions and ended up in distress of some type. I’m not saying that everyone who had distress didn’t adjust – but there were a lot who seemed to be new and have no clue how to adjust for weather. We do need to take some responsibility for ourselves. I was kind of shocked at the number of people whining about it though. News flash! It’s Orlando in late September! It’s going to be hot and humid!

* But just as runners should have been expecting the weather and ready to adjust, so should runDisney. It would not have been amiss to have another fluid station set up – or at least have the plans in place to put one in even if runners aren’t told about it ahead of time.

* While we’re on fueling, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a gel or chomp or even chocolate/candy station around Mile 7 or 8. Would everyone need it? No. But considering people have most likely been training with something every x number of miles or set amount of time (most common among people I talk with seems to be about every 4 miles or maybe every hour), it would be a nice touch. Again, yes, we can carry our own stuff, and I had carried enough for a gel at 4 and at 8 if needed. But I learned something else…

* Gel packs and sweaty hands don’t mix. I was going for mine at mile 4 and shook it briefly to get the tear-off part free of gel before opening, and it went flying across the road. Not good. So I did it on one gel. But that meant I made sure I was also taking PowerAde at the fluid stops.

* I realize that it’s a night race and putting entertainment out on the course means generators, but. This was billed as a Villain-themed race. I saw hyenas from The Lion King and the Big Bad Wolf from The Three Little Pigs, and one stage where there were ghosts, but that was it. I’ve come to expect more from Disney, and they definitely can do more in that regard. Especially considering the entire first half of the race was an out and back on Osceola Parkway. It got boring quickly. It seemed like they had the thought of making each mile a different theme (I’ve heard that’s the plan for the full in January), but it didn’t get fully carried out.

* I did like the twist of having a small portion going into the sports complex on gravel and dirt. Yes, it could have been lit better, but it was fun to have something besides cement or asphalt to run on. And I will admit…I couldn’t help but start singing “Into the Woods” during that stretch.

* Running around the professional track was awesome! Definitely loved that!!

* Running around the baseball stadium is still nothing more than an annoyance for me. I HATE getting all that crud in my shoes and on my legs. But I know I’m in the minority at not liking baseball one iota, so that could be influencing my thoughts.

* The ending in Hollywood Studios definitely was very twisty and turny – clearly to make up the remaining mileage needed. No complaints there really.

* I have also seen some complaining about the finish not being open to the public, but there was some limited seating, and also Wine & Dine really didn’t have spectators at the end either. Most spectators were already at the after party.

* Definite kudos on going to pre-packaged recovery boxes! It had some crackers (I heard GF, but I don’t know) and a cheese spread, fruit chew bits, trail mix (which I skipped because of peanuts), a piece of almond rocca, and a Clif Builder’s Bar. Definitely better than the usual exposed to the elements bags or the “grab what you want and go” section that leaves back of the packers with very limited choices. Also handed out at the finish, PowerAde or water, and bananas.

* Yes, there was a walk to get to the reunion area, but a walk after a hard run isn’t a bad idea. It had the bonus advantage of medical people being able to keep an eye on us and go to anyone who looks to be in trouble. And the only thing that kept it from moving smoothly at times were people insisting on sitting down either to stretch or just sit RIGHT THERE. The idea was to keep moving.

* I can’t really comment on bag check as I didn’t use it. One advantage of my sister being there and heading my (and my friend’s) cheer squad is that I don’t have to deal with it. It did seem kind of silly to put it as far away from the ending area as they did…but with the people insisting on sitting, it could have been a real mess any closer.

* Were there people getting sick? Yes. I saw at least two – and one of them I later saw in a wheelchair being taken back to medical presumable for fluids after she’d moved from where she’d flopped down right in front of the guys’ bathroom to puke and sit. Again, we as runners have to take responsibility for ourselves. Do you always know right when you finish that you’re not going to feel well? No, of course not. But in a situation where there is medical help readily available, take advantage of it. They’re there to help you.

* BioFreeze! It’s not *just* for sore muscles! It really can help to cool you off when you’re hot. I stopped a couple of times to put some on my legs, and especially once I got moving again and the wind created by my movement hit my legs, it did help to cool me off. That said, I did feel like I’d lost about 20 pounds when i changed afterwards and stripped off my soaking wet tank.

And…I think that’s about it that I can think of right now. Like I said, of course there’s always room for improvement (entertainment, another fluid station, and some kind of on-course food at one point), but overall it was a lot of fun.

Oh…there is another matter regarding sweeping and medals that I will cover in another post as it’s not just specific to this race. Let’s just say that yes, finishers’ medals were offered to all swept runners. (And runDisney isn’t the first organization to do this. I’ll do another post soon on the whole practice.)

And yes, I’ll probably do it again next year assuming they offer it. It’s my chance to be a legacy runner!!

Finish time? 2:17:30. I’ll definitely take it!


One thought on “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Inaugural Race

  1. Congrats on your finish, and getting within your planned time range is awesome!!

    The humidity was tougher than I expected, although not a huge surprise given that it IS Florida in late September. I learned early on in my running life (the hard way) to always bring water and Gu with me since you can never be sure what or how much the race itself will provide.

    Neat tip on the Biofreeze. Never thought about doing that, may have to try it during my next hot weather run.

    Good luck at Chicago this weekend!!

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