runDisney True Life Adventures: Tales from Corral D


Ran 13.1, met Mulan – perfect night!

It’s hard to believe, but just three days ago, I toed the starting line of my 8th runDisney event of the year, the 2013 Wine and Dine Half Marathon (recap here), capping off an excellent season of magical miles. While it would be nearly impossible to pick a favorite race of the year (see this page for all my runDisney recaps) this one will definitely stay in my mind for a long time to come – and it’s taking me these past few days to collect my thoughts, and to share just why it was so different, yet just as rewarding…so here goes:

The Mental Game

My very first runDisney event was the 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon – it was also my first 13.1 distance, and though I had stuck to my training plan, and felt good going into it, there were so many unknowns – how would my pacing be? Would I be able to sacrifice time to walk through water stations? On top of it all, I had just gotten over the flu and due to a combination of other reasons, my longest training run had topped out at 8 miles. Still, armed with my CamelBak, and non-technical running clothes (I was a newbie) I managed to run a 2:04 and seriously thought I was one of the last finishers.

Oh, and that was the last time I was in Corral D.

Now, I don’t say this in any way to de-value anyone’s corral placement, but starting in a later corral was definitely a different feeling – I started there in this race because I was pacing my friend J, and in runDisney events, you can always move back, but not move forward. I am always in Corral A (due to times I submit from my ‘faster’ efforts) so I never realized that just being in a later corral – whether that’s Corral B, or Corral J – messes with your mind! Maybe it’s the fact that you associate the Corrals with grades, like in school (can you tell I am a bit of a perfectionist) or that you mentally size yourself up with fellow Corral runners, but being in Corral D this time – I have to admit, it made me realize just how different a race experience can be for the wide spectrum of participants – for better and for worse.

Here’s two examples:

#1 – Mile Markers – I know that this will sound kind of silly, but when I am running, math doesn’t really make sense in my mind (who am I kidding, it often doesn’t – but I digress). Although I was wearing my Garmin and could clearly see my splits, seeing much higher numbers at each Mile Marker was a little trippy.

#2 – Course Support – My weekend race roomie started in the last corral, and placed last in her age group – but she still went out there and ACCOMPLISHED something huge. I was so proud of her! But, I was totally bummed when I found out that after she finished, there were no more free drinks. I realize that there are time parameters in place, but seeing as we all paid the same race registration fee, it was sad to hear that.


I had to sneak in a hashtag, of course (Social Media nerd) but this is one that I just could not get out of my mind – something I like to call “Overheard at runDisney.” You see, before the race, after the race, and even during the race, I relate very closely to Roz from Monster’s Inc:

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 9.29.55 AM


…and along with ALWAYS WATCHING, I am ALWAYS LISTENING. You see, as in most races, runDisney discourages the use of headphones (for safety) but I have to admit, running this event without any musical accompaniment did more than kept my ears open to hearing announcements or warnings from other runners, but it created an atmosphere that wasn’t always the most encouraging.

You see, when we were crossing back toward Hollywood Studios, we could see, on the other side of the roadway, the motorcade, the participants bringing up the rear, and yes, those infamous balloon ladies (see P’s post on them for more). As we proceeded forward, we even saw the busses and vans that would act as “sweepers.” I had never, ever seen any of these elements at a runDisney race before, and personally, it was an educational moment for me, but looking around, I was extremely thankful that most others were wearing headphones when I heard comments like these from people running nearby us:

  • “Ugh, look at those people WALKING! Why would they even try?”
  • “What’s the point? Why don’t those people back there give up?”
  • “Haha! Look who’s about to get picked up.”

I was in disbelief. If I had not been centering all my attention on the well-being and progress of my friend that I was pacing, my bitten tongue would have been lashing out at more than a few people around me. Sure, we might not all be fast runners, but who are we to judge anyone who was out there, working hard to accomplish a goal? We don’t know everyone’s story. Heck, do we always even know our own story?

That Same Feeling

Despite those negative things, for us – in Corral D, anyway – it all came full circle. When we entered Epcot, Sara Barellis’ “Brave” came on, and that, coupled with the swirling lights and roar of the crowds – still brought me to tears. For me, it was the 12th half marathon finish line I was about to cross, and as in each time, it was, at that very moment in time, one hundred thousand emotions all at once.

This wasn’t J’s victory that she had hoped for, but crossing that finish line with her, I couldn’t have been more proud – and that’s what I think brings me back each time. Overcoming adversity, fear, disappointment – they’re all parts of real life – but for one singular moment, we can rise above it all.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 6.54.42 PM

…and  I wouldn’t change that for the world.


24 thoughts on “runDisney True Life Adventures: Tales from Corral D

  1. Kristen @ The Smith Summary

    We saw the sweeper buses as we were leaving Animal Kingdom – my heart breaks for someone that has tried SO hard and gets told they cannot finish. My heart is also breaking after reading the things you heard people say – where’s the compassion? I thought runners were one big happy family 😦

    1. krissy m. murphy Post author

      Agree, K. It was a disheartening for me, especially since I’m so used to the positivity in the groups we associate with, etc. They need a hug!

  2. katsnf

    Run Disney races are about so much more than a time! You’re so right! I couldn’t imagine people making those comments – we all ‘race’ for our own reasons and deserve to be there!

  3. Tania

    Thanks for sharing this! When we saw the sweeper buses on the other side, I had a different reaction! I thought, wow, those people have so much more to overcome mentally with those people on their tail. I am so proud of them! I never run with headphones, so I sometimes hear snarkiness and it makes me sad. I saw a woman wearing a sign on her back that said, “I Run/Walk, Don’t Judge.” Or something to that effect. How sad to have to put that on you before the race even starts. I LOVE your finisher photo!

    1. krissy m. murphy Post author

      I totally agree with you, T. There is a lot more pressure on back of the pack, and their experience is so different – it almost felt like the “dark side” or something? If that makes sense? I know that when I ran my first half, I went in with NO knowledge of what goes on at any race, much less a runDisney one, and was convinced that I was going to come in last – not knowing anything about pace groups, corrals or the sweepers. Knowledge really is power, and this has opened my eyes – and made me realize even more that motivation and encouragement comes in many different forms.

  4. Amy - Mom's Magical Miles

    Through faulty expo volunteer math, my 1:00 10K got me a Corral A sticker on my bib instead of the Corral E that I was seeking. Aside from the fact that I wanted to run with my friend, I really don’t think I would have started in A. I don’t belong there, and there IS something mentally weird about starting where you really don’t feel like you fit in, either faster or slower. I knew that as soon as the fireworks went off, these people would blow by me and I would be left feeling like a snail! As far as the snarky comments, I think some people are just jaded. They’re used to being a fast runner and can’t even wrap their minds around the choices others make. And I feel very bad for the people that I have heard multiple times say they are used to everything being gone by the time they get to the finish line. For them to take that as a given breaks my heart.

    1. krissy m. murphy Post author

      I agree with you on all accounts, Amy. I really hope that everyone that is out there, working toward a goal, has the support of friends, family, and the online community if they so seek it, because there are definitely haters 😛 That being said, if this post reaches even one person that is helped by the encouragement left by people like you, I feel like we’re doing something to make things better, so thank you!! ❤

  5. Kristin @ A Mom on the Run

    Oh gosh, that’s awful Krissy. I typically run with my headphones in too and I’m kind of glad, I’d have a hard time keeping my mouth shut if I heard those comments. A friend of mine has been running Disney races for a year now and Wine & Dine is the first one she has finished without being swept. She may be walking, but she’s working just as hard as I am, if not harder. People need to be more compassionate 😦

    1. krissy m. murphy Post author

      Agree, K. I was ready to run my mouth – but then realized that in that moment, it wouldn’t be a positive exchange, to say the least!

      This: “She may be walking, but she’s working just as hard as I am, if not harder.” truly ran through my mind countless times during the race.

  6. Kathryn @ Dancing to Running

    I’m in shock at what you heard from those people! Of course, they probably never have and never will run, and will never know just how much hard work and effort goes into preparing for a race. Maybe they need to have a meeting with Jeff Galloway so he can share just how important walking is, especially for a newer runner like myself!

  7. April Shuping

    I started in F (how’s that for a grade association, lol!) and maybe people were a little more encouraging back there because all around me (me included) we cheered the front runners on their way back from AK as we were heading there and we cheered even louder on our way out of AK when we saw those people near and behind the balloon ladies on the opposite side of the road, lots of people shouting “you got it” and “way to go”! Seeing all those buses and street sweepers was crazy though! And I was sad for those who looked certain to be swept, but hey they were out there trying right!

    1. krissy m. murphy Post author

      So glad you had good company! There was a guy in our corral that was awesome and encouraging – he called me Silver Sparkle and I called him Inner Sparkle! 🙂

  8. kelseygodfrey

    This makes me happy and sad at the same time. I’m glad you got to experience the race from a different viewpoint and pace your friend but I’m sad about the comments from other runners. As someone who has walked an entire half marathon more than once and as the daughter of a momma who walked an entire 26.2 mile marathon I understand the view from the back of the pack and have even had some very hurtful things said directly to me about it. Those people do not belong in the running community and obviously don’t understand the concept of PERSONAL fitness. ugh, rant over. Glad you had a good race and saw it from a back of the pack perspective.

    1. krissy m. murphy Post author

      I totally feel you, K. It bums me out that anyone could discourage people giving a valiant effort to accomplishing something! This is one of the many reasons I am working toward doing what I can to help beginners and provide that positive encouragement. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts ❤

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  10. Abby

    It REALLY upsets me when other runners say stuff like this. It’s one thing to be an ignorant non-runner; it’s disgusting to be an elitist jerk.

    I’ve actually heard a number of negative things happen at this race and it’s so sad. Particularly, the faster runners getting upset about having to wait to cross the course because slower runners were still out there.

    As a back of the packer, I’ve learned to try to tune ignorant comments out, but it still sucks. Glad my fellow slow pokes are always awesome to run with, though!

    1. krissy m. murphy Post author

      That crossing situation NEEDS to change. It’s frustrating – not because runners are on the course, but logistically, it’s not safe to put that many people who just ran 13.1 in a big group and just have them STAND there and not move. It’s my one beef against this event and I hope they find a way to alleviate that congestion!!

  11. Sabrina

    I was picked up just after mile 7 of the 2012 Tower of Terror. I turned to my boyfriend and cried my eyes out. I was so devastated. I’ve come a long ways since then, and while I don’t like hearing the negative talk from spectators or racers, I do know its the nature of the game.

    On a happy note, the end makes it all worth it. Congratulations on an inspiring finish!

    1. krissy m. murphy Post author

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Sabrina. I really wish negative talk wasn’t part of the equation, and I hope by sharing on this blog, we can do what we can to remove it!! ❤

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  13. cindy alford

    You stated that if your comments can encourage one person, it’s worth it….. Well I’m one of those encouraged! I was once active, prior to having 3 kids, and just couldn’t get motivated to get off the couch. I saw cool Disney medals and I had to have one, so I’m on this journey to get 3 medals in Jan. 2014. My twin daughters turn 14 y.o. on Jan.9 (minimum age to run the half) and on their birthday! We all got different corrals, and one got the last corral, P. So we are all starting together in corral P. I don’t like to run, but do walk… but my longest distance to date is only 3 miles. But I am mentally prepared to pace with the balloon ladies, post a “I’m great” smile on my face and take it one mile at a time.

    As for the snobby runners, it’s sad those things are said, but with 20,000 people ++ running, there’s always the rude ones…. it’s life. My goal is to finish…. I read a blog from a girl who was second to last to finish at the Princess one year, so I am mentally ready for what comes ahead… but my goal is to get that medal! with my daughters…. then train properly and enjoy disney in a whole new way.

    thanks for the encouragement and hope to see you at the half!


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