When I decided I was crazy enough to run a marathon, it didn’t take Darrell long to come up with the idea of doing a cruise afterwards. I’m always on board for extra medals, so we got in touch with our travel agent and then tacked on registration for the Castaway Cay Challenge. For certain Disney race weekends, they offer the opportunity to run a special edition of their usual Castaway Cay 5K on the following cruise (more on my prior experiences with the usual 5K here and here) to earn the Castaway Cay Challenge medal.
This set up meant there were a lot of runners on my ship. Four of the six of us at our dinner table had run during the weekend. I was proud of us for not talking exclusively about the race weekend and I’m sure Darrell was relieved by this! I also got asked by lots of cast members about race weekend and got lots of extra congratulations, even without wearing my medal around the ship. There even were special “recovery” drink options in the coffee shops and bars.
I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t quite the same as the usual 5K (not that I don’t love the usual 5K!). A few key differences:
- As opposed to the usual 5K, registration had a cost associated and was done before you got on the ship. The Castaway Cay Challenge was one of the many stops we made at the Expo while picking up everything for the marathon. Exchanges were available on the ship if you needed to exchange your shirt size. It was nice to get to skip my usual check-in at the Guest Services desk to register for the 5K.
- There were shirts and other goodies specific to the Castaway Cay Challenge, in addition to getting the race shirt with registration. The designs of these were much more colorful, including the ship, Mickey and the beach. I actually prefer the more subdued race shirt, but that may be because I already have shirts for the regular Castaway Cay 5K similar to the added purchase Challenge shirts, so I didn’t grab any of those.
- There was also an information session on the cruise that was specific to the Challenge 5K. I confess I was doing the dessert experience at Remy, so I didn’t go to this, but one of my tablemates (who’d never run on Castaway Cay before) found this session helpful.
- The course was a little bit different than the typical 5K course on the island. After a long walk out to the airstrip, we ran down the wide, paved airstrip before turning onto a narrow paved path that paralleled Serenity Bay, the adult beach. Because we ran out and back along this section of the path, it got very crowded. Unless you were at the very front of the pack, you would have had to shuffle around a lot of people to find space to run. We were in the “jungle,” without any real beach views, but we did get lovely glimpses of the boat and the sunrise every once in a while.
- The course continued back out to the airstrip (where there was a water stop, with little bottles of water) before heading around the loop for the observation tower and then out for the finish line. I love that they had Swiss Family Robinson characters at the observation tower. 🙂 It livened up the otherwise dull loop to talk to them. They were discussing between themselves exactly what a “selfie” might be when I passed.
- Speaking of characters, they said the course had an “adventure” theme, so other than Beach Goofy at the start:
The other characters were dressed in adventure gear, including a pirate-ish Minnie and Mickey and Chip and Dale in their Rescue Ranger best:
How did my run go? Oy. This was the most physically painful run of my life. I mostly walked this 5K, because every step I ran hurt everything from the waist down. Even though this was an untimed 5K, for some reason I was adamant that I would meet the 16 minute mile cut off and not walk the entire thing. Thus, I kept an eye on the Garmin lap time for each mile. When the time drifted up to 15:30 for the projected mile time, I’d run again until it dropped, then go back to walking. Unconventional intervals, to be sure, but it got me through and each mile was slightly faster than the last. I even ran all of the last 0.1 to a grateful finish. 🙂
I was quick to grab my medal and my usual runDisney goodies (banana, Powerade and box) before heading back to the ship. We were all required to check back in to the ship after the race before officially getting back off the ship for the port day. There were a TON of non-runner people waiting for all of us to get back on the boat so they could out to start their beach day. Sorry guys!
All in all, it was fun to get the extra medal and I loved doing the 5K earlier in the day (cooler, plus more time on the beach later!). However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to cruise post-race just for the Castaway Challenge again. It wasn’t that much better than the normal race on the island (which is free and comes with the same cute Castaway Cay 5K medallion). Cruising post-race for the rest and relaxation . . . that’s another thing all together. 🙂
The Tuesdays on the Run link-up today is about how much you’re willing to pay for a race. Somehow I thought this little 5K, which I paid a small fortune for when you consider the cost of the cruise, fit the bill. Be sure to check out Erika, Patty and Marcia for the rest of the link up!