2011 Walt Disney World Buzz and Woody's Best Friends 5K

Discussion in 'Course Reviews' started by Course Review, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. Course Review

    Course Review Barefooters

    Apr 3, 2012
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    Reviewed By: Barefoot Fresca

    Date Reviewed: 01/13/2011
    Review Type: Race
    Barefoot Friendliness: 3 Average

    Walt Disney World
    Lake Buena Vista, FL
    See map: Google Maps

    Every year as part of all the events occurring as part of the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in January, there is a family fun 5K race. The 2011 5K race was named "Buzz and Woody's Best Friends 5K." I participated in this 5K several years ago when it was the "Family Fun Magazine 5K" and The Incredibles were the characters hosting the event so I don't know if the theme changes from year to year.

    I had heard that Disney did not allow people in the themeparks in bare feet (which is true) so I had been planning to run this race with my Vibrams. However, when a Barefoot Runners Society member (Warren) posted a thread about the Disney races, I found out that Disney allows people to run barefoot in the races. From the moment I heard that I planned to run it barefoot.

    When I ran/walked this race in 2005, there had been no time/pace restrictions. This year they required a maximum of a 16-minutes/mile pace. I thought that would be no problem for me, since I had run a couple of 5Ks barefoot in less time than that. They state that they will pick you up and drive you to the finish line if you don't keep that pace, however, I saw many people walking slower than that and there seemed to be a lot of lee-way. It didn't look like anyone got picked up to me.

    This race fills up and by a couple of months before the race, you cannot get a spot, so if you want to do it, I recommend signing up early. Last year I had signed up for the half, but by Thanksgiving I had a bad case of plantar fasciitis that prevented me from finishing my training. I could have run the 5K, but when I tried to sign up for the 5K and do that instead it was full. So this year I signed up way in advance.

    Everything is extremely well organized and LOTS of fun. There is a big setup for race packet pickup and registration at Disney's Wide World of Sports. There is a giant Expo with lots of cutting edge running products, as well as stores with Disney marathon merchandise. If you stay on Disney property in one of their resorts, there are special buses to bring runners over to the registration and expo at Disney's Wide World of Sports (which is named something else now, I think). Every race entrant is given a nice race Tshirt. This year's Tshirt was short-sleeveed royal blue cotton with the Buzz and Woody 5K logo on it.

    I have heard that they have special breakfast packs that can be purchased in the evening before when you are running the marathon or 1/2, but they did not have these breakfast packs available for the people running the 5K. I bought some fruit and yogurt and cereal to put in the fridge in my hotel room to have to eat in the morning. When you get up for the 5K race, they have special designated buses at the resorts to take you over to the Epcot site by 6:15. The race starts at 7:00am.

    They have a very well organized bag check. Your race packet comes in a clear drawstring bag that is large enough to store clothes in. Since it can be chilly in the morning in January, it comes in handy to check an extra sweatshirt and pants. The race packet includes a sticker with your bib number on it to adhere to the plastic bag to identify it as yours.
    There are rows and rows of porta potties, and they also have sinks outside the porta potties with real water and soap to wash your hands.

    Official race photographers are walking around as you arrive and take pictures of anyone and everyone. There is entertainment and music and Disney characters seeing you off.
    This race is not officially timed. It is a fun run. They do have clocks along the way to tell you how you are doing and so that you know your time. But there is no chip recording anything official, so as a barefoot runner, you do not have to worry about how to wear the race chip.
    People line up by pacing groups. Because I am slow, I was way towards the back in the 13 - 15 minute category. behind us were walkers, and at the very end were people with strollers. There were many children and families running this race. Many people were dressed up as Disney characters or wore Mickey and Minnie ears. A lot of Dads and Moms who will be running the 1/2 marathon or full marathon in the succeeding days were running with their children, many of whom were doing their very first 5K ever.

    It takes a long time to walk to the starting line in the crowd when you're standing so far back. But Buzz and Woody are standing at the starting line talking to everyone and getting them psyched for the race.

    Back in 2005 when I walked this race, I remembered that it started way out in the Epcot parking lot. I could not recall the texture of the parking lot, so before the race I was worried about what that asphalt would be like.

    It turned out that the asphalt out in the Epcot parking lot was as sharp, painful and non-barefoot friendly as could be. I am not a very advanced barefoot runner, so maybe an advanced person would have found it easier than I did. The sharp part lasted about a mile and was painful enough to make tears in my eyes. I would highly recommend wearing something on the feet for that first part.

    Once in the park, however, it was very smooth and amazing. There are characters along the way. Many people stopped to take photos with the characters. I did for one, but the lines looked a bit long. If I was a faster runner, it might have been worthwhile to stop for more pictures, but since I was worried about that 16 min/mile limit, I didn't think I could spare standing on line for pictures with characters.

    Because of the bad parking lot, I would be tempted to rate this race as non-barefoot friendly, but I can't because when you get to the smooth part in the themepark, it is so wonderful that it kind of balances it out. So, I gave a grading of "average" to the course. I wouldn't want the parking lot to deter someone from coming and giving it a try, especially if one brought along a pair of huaraches, aqua shoes or other to slip on for that part.

    There is a giant screen with the time on it at mile 2 and mile 3 and very clearly marked Mickey ears that tell what mile it is. You can stop and pose for a picture by these spots and there is a Disney cast member standing at each one who will take a picture with your camera for you.
    There are plenty of bathrooms along the way. All the themepark bathrooms are open and available to the runners. There are water stops along the way, and very clear markings of the race path. There are Disney race volunteers with big Mickey hands directing and telling you where to go at every turn.

    One thing I was disappointed in was that they took us on more service roads behind the park than they had when I walked this same race in 2005. It would have been fun to stay in the themepark the whole time, like we did back then. The service roads have a rougher asphalt texture, but not as rough as that pitted stuff I mentioned was oiut in the parking lot. My sister who lives in FLA told me that they mix seashells in with the asphalt, which makes this weird texture, unlike any asphalt I have run up north. The seashell asphalt is definitely do-able as a barefoot runner, and not any rougher than some of the asphalt a barefoot runner may already be used to.

    The finish of the race is exciting, with a big arc over the finish line. They take pictures of you crossing the finish line. I loved the pictures they took and really would like to have them, but they are very expensive. ($14.95 for two identical 4 x 6 photos).

    You get a really cute finishing "medal" of Buzz and Woody and then they hand you a little sack of food (bagel, orange, banana) and a bottle of water and/or gatorade at the end of the race. There is a bus to take you back to your resort.

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