The Castaway Cay 5K will always hold a special place in my heart. It was my very first goal race. When I started running back in August 2012, we were also planning our very first cruise and I decided that the 5K on Disney’s private island was the perfect goal to keep me running during those tough first couple of months. While it wasn’t my very first 5K (I ended up running Commitment Day and a color run before the cruise date arrived), it remains one of my favorites. That makes it especially cool that it is the first race I’ve run twice. Technically, yes, I’ve also run the Commitment Day race twice, but it was a completely different course so I don’t think that counts, does it? Even better, this time around, there would be a cool new medal for the 5K!
Our Castaway Cay day was on Saturday, the last full day of our trip. That gave me all week to remember to go down to Guest Services to register for the run. The 5K is free, but they ask that you register ahead of time by going down to Guest Services to pick up a ticket. You could also register the morning of the race. On the personal navigator (your daily flyer with all of the ship’s events), they list the meeting time and place for the 5K. On our trip, that was 9 am in Fathoms, one of the adult lounges. There were a lot more people there for the race than I remember from last time!
When you arrive, be sure you have both your room key and your photo ID as you need both to get off the boat. I waited in line for a couple of minutes so that my name could be checked off and I could get my bib.
There were lots of families in the room, which was fun. Kids down to 10 or 12 (I can’t remember exactly the cut off) were allowed to officially run and younger kids could be dropped off at the island’s kids club on the way out to the race start. They walked us through the morning, including the long walk out to the start, the “treasure chest” where you could store your belongings during the race, the water stops and the route.
We then all headed in a group out of the boat to start the long walk to the start line. I didn’t have my Garmin, but it takes 15-20 minutes to get out there. You’re definitely warmed up – I’d guess it is around 3/4 mile.
It’s definitely an unhurried walk, as people are dropping off kids, stopping for potty breaks and other things along the way. I even stopped for a character stop since there was no line and it’s a Disney run after all. 🙂
The starting point is at the bike rental station, also conveniently located near the shop that sells the Castaway Cay 5K themed gear. There are a lot more options now, with 3-4 shirts, a hat, a water bottle and even some leftover shirts from the Castaway Cay Challenge following marathon weekend. I got a grey tech shirt and a light blue t-shirt. Two tips: 1) Consider buying a shirt before the race if you really want one as they don’t usually have any extra sizes other than the ones on the rack and 2) If you do buy it before the run, they’ll take it back to the ship for you to pick up later that evening.
There really isn’t much of a start – at some point, they turn on the clock and people start running. It’s on asphalt with minimal loose gravel, which is nice. There are a lot of walkers, so don’t feel like you have to run this. This is very much a fun run rather than a race. There are red signs marking the 5K course, so it’s hard to get lost per se but it is easy to forget about that second time around the loop! There’s a water station at the very beginning (which is also the finish although they were out of cups at the finish line when I got there) and a water station at the entry to the loop, which you pass 4 times during the race. There are also water containers all along the loop because that’s also the bike path. All of the water is important because even on a cool early February day, it got hot and humid quickly especially in the loop where there is less of a breeze!
It’s a nice little run. I didn’t have any huge goals because it was my last, easy run of the week. I also remembered a) how humid it would be and b) how hard it is for your legs to adjust to walking / running on solid ground after a week on a rocking ship, so I just wanted to have fun and get my miles in. The scenery is nice, with Disney theming touches reflecting their backstory of the island (see more here) and beautiful tropical foliage.
I finished with a nice little kick, only to run into the crowd assembled at the end. They had set up a line right at the finish to mark your name off the list (so they knew everyone had finished I guess?) and give you a medal. I do like the new medal:
While the run isn’t timed, there is a clock at the start and finish line. I finished in around 36-36:10, which is 3 minutes faster than last time. Not bad for miles 18-21 of my week and miles 22-25 of my 100 miles of races in 2015 goal. Even better, I finished up by laying on the beach for an hour. Not bad all around! Definitely check this run out if you’re on a Disney cruise!