The Rosy Wanderer

Wandering with a Purpose

Page 2 of 12

2023 Dopey Registration

Whew! I needed a night to recover because runDisney Marathon Weekend registration was an absolute nightmare! Registration was announced weeks ago that it would be on April 19 at 10:00 am ET. This year is celebrating the marathon’s 30th anniversary and Dopey’s 10th – aka, this isn’t their first time.

It has sold out in 2021 (turned virtual) and in 2022. I think my friends registered for the half several months after registration opened for 2020, and I believe I registered in August for the marathon in 2018. There was a lot of hype around this year’s themes because they are awesome, so I felt like the 5K and 10K were going to go fast, but I had no idea how fast everything else was going to go.

Prior to registration, lots of people will post tips on things to do to prep for registration. There is really helpful information about making an account, what information to have available, and generally what to expect. There is a lot of debate on whether you should get in the queue early or right on time. After today’s experience, I think getting in right on time is the way to go (with, of course, another device in early as backup!)

My Journey

2020 Dopey shirt

I started my day with a good 3-mile run in my 2020 Dopey shirt. I was ready for registration day!

ready for registration

All of my friends were prepped for 10 am registration. I was going to be at work so I was nervous about a customer coming in at that time, but I was all ready for a quick process. The Dopey queue opened, and I was in on my phone browser at 9:40. I was saving my computer browser for a 10 am entrance. Then 10 am came…and 10 am went. We were in the queue for a while before the screen changed to this

And this is what we saw for almost 2 hours!! I can’t understand what the issue was. They knew this date was coming; they knew there would be high traffic; this was not the first time they had registration. What exactly was the issue?

waiting

There were some great social media posts.

small world registration
Should we be worried about the Balloon Ladies?
We don't talk about...

At least that was entertaining, but it was completely inconvenient. People had other things to do and a lot of people tried to make themselves available from 10 am to 11 am.

Is the End in Sight?

Thank you for your patience

Eventually, runDisney updated the message at 12:15 pm stating that registration will now open 2.5 hours after it was scheduled. This message said not to refresh! At this point, my phone queue had stopped, and I stopped receiving updates sometime around 11 am. I also had a screen opened in Chrome.

At 12:30 pm, my Safari and Chrome browsers on my computer showed this, and I was so annoyed!

1 hour wait

I had been on for 2.5 hours and got placed at the end of the queue?! Since I’m impatient, I opened a screen on my phone and got 20 minutes or something. This is why I am now on the side of the people who say to get in at registration time. The “Do not refresh the browser” message on the original screen is a lie! I heard from a friend the 5K and 10K were sold out before I got onto the registration page. She was lucky enough to get in.

The countdown started, and my phone won!

Registered!

Shortly after I registered, another friend texted me to say Dopey was sold out. Then Goofy. Before I left work, everything was sold out!

2023 marathon weekend sold out

I can’t imagine this was all of their spots. So many people waited since 10 am, stayed in the queue as instructed, and they didn’t get their spot! I feel so bad for them. I don’t know why it doesn’t put you in the queue in the order that you arrive – especially after a 2.5-hour delay. Hopefully, they will open up more spots!

I’m feeling very lucky and excited for this opportunity to take on 48.6 miles again! It was so much fun in 2020, 2023 should be just as exciting. I can’t wait!

Big Goal: Dopey 2023

Dopey Challenge 2023 has been on my goal list since I completed the challenge in 2020, and I have been looking forward to the event. Unfortunately, I have been struggling with the decision as of late (which I won’t go into now), but on Thursday night, runDisney released the 2023 marathon weekend themes, and WOW! They nailed it!

How exciting is this 90s theme to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the WDW Marathon! This is the Disney I remember from my childhood, and I was a big Disney kid. Dopey is completing all four races: 5K, 10K, half marathon, and half marathon during runDisney Marathon weekend. It’s difficult, but there is such energy that it makes it so much fun!

On top of it being an anniversary year for the marathon, it is the 10 year anniversary of the Dopey Challenge. My very first marathon was the 25th anniversary of the Disney Marathon. It’s hard to believe that was almost 5 years ago, but I remember how exciting it was. They gave us Mickey ears after the race to celebrate, and it was just so cool! I’m sure they will do something really cool this time, too!

I’m sure the weekend is going to be so much fun, and I decided that I am in for the challenge. There are several goals I want to complete to get ready for this, but Dopey 2023 is my motivation. Registration is on April 19, and I will be ready!

Training starts on September 5, so I have Pelotonia before then. It will be a great way to start 2023. Lots to accomplish before then, but it is just the motivation I need to make them happen!

Race Recap: 2022 Disney Princess 5K

2022 princess 5K flat runner

We woke up at 2 am on Friday, February 25 for the 2022 runDisney Princess Weekend 5K this was my first Princess Weekend, but it was my mom’s first 5K. RunDisney 5Ks are fun runs with no timing chip. They want you to do it with a 16-minute pace, but no one will remove you from the course.

My mom was nervous about it because she isn’t big into this kind of activity. I thought she could do it if she had the right mindset, and she did. This is a lot of participants’ first 5K, and that is especially true at Princess weekend. In addition to new runners, the costumes at the 5K were so elaborate! I’m sure some people plan to walk the whole way in them, but I don’t understand how they even do that!

2022 Princess Weekend 5K start

The Race

We walked the whole race, which many people did. I tried to push my mom along because even though I knew there wasnt a time limit, I wanted to make sure we finished. I’m jealous of the people who don’t find finishing stressful.

The start was exciting with fireworks to set us off. I think my mom was really excited and impressed with it. RunDisney does a good job, so it’s hard not to be.

The Course

2022 princess 5K course map

This 5K is one of the best courses that you can do a 5K it is almost entirely through Epcot, so you get to see around the world and finish by going past Spaceship Earth with its cool lights.

Character Stops

The 5k is a shorter close, but it has a very high concentration of characters, which is awesome! The downside is the lines are so long. Even this time we didn’t stop because I can’t imagine waiting for 15-20 minutes for a picture. People say they move fast, but I just can’t do it. I do take pictures as I go past, which works for me!

The characters were a lot of Disney Princesses and their prince, which I liked.

The Finish

Watching my mom finish her first 5K was really exciting for me. I’m really glad she went out of her comfort zone to do this with me, and I think she was proud (and surprised) with herself. We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand. Photo Pass photographers got some good ones.

We got our medals, a banana, water, and out box of Disney snacks before making our way out to the photo booths. We did it! Now it was time for a very long walk to the bus so we could shower and spend the day back in Epcot to eat yummy food in Italy and France.

2022 Princess 5K finish

But this was only the beginning for me. I would have another early morning to start the Fairy Tale Challenge with the Enchanted 10K.

Race Recap: 2022 Shamrock 4 Mile

Shamrock flat run

This was my third weekend in a row with a race having just completed the Corporate Cup 5K. I was worried about this when I signed up, but I was doing it for fun, so I figured a race is always a fun way to get in miles. It was neat to run different areas of the city for mornings when I should have been getting in a run regardless!

The Shamrock 4 Miler is the first run in RunCharlotte’s 6-Pack series. I have participated in some of these races before, but I decided to sign up for the whole series this year since I am not really traveling and as a way to focus on getting faster on shorter distances. They also bribed us with an AWESOME RunCharlotte quarter-zip up, and that is what sealed the deal. I love this and know I will wear it often when it is cool outside.

The Race

The race was held on March 12 in South Charlotte which is an area where I haven’t run before. We started at a local restaurant, Famous Toastery, which is the sponsor for this run. I have about a 45-minute drive to this area, and it rained at home and the entire ride down. I almost didn’t go because I didn’t feel like going for a swim. But I am trying to be consistent, so I packed up my flip-flops, a towel, extra clothes, and a plastic bag so I could complete the first of my six races. It would be bad if I didn’t make it to the first! As luck would have it, the rain stopped when I got to the parking lot!

Of course, the event team was planning for rain, so many of the pre-race tables were canceled, but they had fun music playing and everyone was happy the rain had stopped. Despite the weather, there were still a lot of people there and a lot of people were picking up their cool zip-up, so many people look to be doing the entire series! That’s great for the organization.

It was a neat race. There were some hills as is typical in our area, but we ran through the commercial area of Blankney and some neighborhoods. I was still struggling with allergies, but I earned a PR of 44:16 because the only other 4-miler I did my tag fell off. It was still a decent time for me even though I didn’t feel well.

The Finish

Shamrock Cup

The rain held off for the whole race, and I avoided puddles…until I went to find our post-race snack. After the finish line, I stopped paying attention and my right foot went straight into a puddle! At least my flip-flops were waiting for me. Instead of medals, the race team is giving our medal finisher cups. I thought this was clever.

Famous Toastery hosted a delicious breakfast with quiche, fruit, and coffee which hit the spot after a run. Even though it was 9:30 am, Wicked Weed was there with beer that we could take home – classic Charlotte race move. While I was waiting in line for breakfast, a man saw my runDisney hat. We started chatting, and I felt like I was meeting a celebrity! He was perfect marathon, Dopey, and Princess! For those of you who don’t know about runDisney, that is crazy! 2023 is the 30th anniversary of the marathon – that means he has done every Disney marathon weekend for the last 29 years. He hasn’t missed one. On top of that, he has done all of the Dopeys (9) and Princess weekends (around 20?). That is such an awesome commitment. I told him I was planning on doing Dopey in 2023, so hopefully, I would see him around in the future. Kudos to him!

I really had fun at this event, and I can’t wait for the series’s next race in May – Hit the Brixx 10K, which I have done before.

Trip Synopsis: 2022 Princess Weekend

My mom and I traveled to Orlando on Thursday, February 24 for the 2022 runDisney Princess race weekend. While I have been doing runDisney races since 2017, this was my first time doing Princess Weekend which is held every February. It is a four day event that includes:

While I had fun and am glad I went, I absolutely prefer Marathon Weekend. My last visit was in 2020 when I did the Dopey Challenge. When I have money to spend on this luxury, Marathon Weekend will be my go-to. I would like to do Wine and Dine one day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my first Princess weekend was my last.

Art of Animation

Hotel

My usual hotel is Pop Century, which I think is a really great hotel. There are nice rooms and a cafeteria with more affordable food options. It is on a lake with walking paths, the Skyliner to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and another hotel called The Art of Animation.

The Art of Animation is so cool. I always go there to walk around because there are areas themed in Cars, Nemo, Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. It is more expensive than Pop, so I haven’t stayed there previously. My mom was up for it, so what a better weekend to stay in a Little Mermaid room! The rooms were so cool, and it was neat to walk around the themes everyday.

Overall, I will stay at Pop again in the future. I liked staying here, but (and I know how bad this sounds) but it was full of children and crazy. The cafeteria was overwhelming. I’m not sure if it’s a function of the weekend in February or the hotel. One of the reasons I didn’t enjoy Princess Weekend was there were a lot of “normal people” whereas Marathon Weekend is all runners or their supporters. Whenever I talked to anyone in line or on a bus, they were there just to visit Disney World. I rarely spoke to someone there for the race. On Marathon Weekend, everyone is there for the races.

Thursday

The Princess Weekend Expo

World of Sports
5K Check In

After flying and taking the Mears bus to the hotel (a new process), we took a Disney bus to ESPN Center to get our bibs and see the merchandise at the Expo. It was so busy! Everyone was really excited to be there. Essentially, there are 3 buildings/stops. The first and furthest back was where you got your bib. Instead of printing your waiver form, it was done digitally now. Then you go to your group’s check in. Since the 5K is not part of the challenge, I had to check in at both the Cinderella 5K with my mom and then again at the challenge booth. Here you get your bibs and shirts. I really liked these shirts! they were short sleeves and soft. The 2020 Dopey shirts were really scratchy, and Marathon weekend shirts are always long sleeve.

Next it was time to visit the expo with external vendors. This always overwhelms me because there is so much, and I’m not sure what to make of it. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but it is great to see so much business support of this event and the sport. I’m sure there are many things to help make running better. The 2017 Marathon Weekend is where my friend told me about Features socks, which I now swear by.

Our final stop was the Princess Weekend merchandise. I’m not a big shopper, but a lot of people there are. People go crazy! Some even get there hours early so they have first choice of things. It’s crazy. Being that I am not that person, I go to browse and maybe pick out one thing.

Pricing was really high, and I didn’t see a lot that I liked, but my mom did encourage me to get this pretty blue challenge zip up with Moana. It has been a good purchase, and I wear it almost everyday.

The big reason to go to the Expo is all of the photo opportunities. There are all kinds of fun signs and stops to take pictures with your bib.

Bib picture

Disney Springs

After the Expo, we went to Disney Springs, by way of the hotel. My mom hadn’t been there before, so I wanted her to see it; plus, I made us a dinner reservation at Raglan Road, the Irish restaurant. It was really good and fun, but we called it an early night because of our early wakeup call.

5K finish

Friday

5K

Today was our first event where we were gong to do a 5K around Epcot. You can read a full race recap here, but we had a lot of fun!

Epcot

Italy in Epcot

This was definitely my favorite park day. My mom enjoys cooking and different foods, so I made a lunch reservation at Tutto Italia in Italy and a dinner reservation at Chefs de France in France. I really enjoyed the food at both places.

We did several rides and attractions. This was the first time I did some of the attractions around the world like the movie in Canada and the singalong in France. We were going to try to see the evening show, but were exhausted after waiting in the Ratatouille ride for over 2 hours. It was a cool ride, but I was tired and had an early morning the next day.

Saturday

10K finish

Enchanted 10K

2:30 am came quickly, but I was ready for the 10K. It was a lot of fun! For a full race report, visit here.

Animal Kingdom

Our big highlight in Animal Kingdom was Flight of Passages. This is one of the coolest rides I have ever done. My mom really enjoyed it, but we waited in line forever! Disney usually does a good job with their estimated wait predictions, but between this and Ratatouille, they were way off. This wait was ridiculous!

10K and Everest

There isn’t always a lot in Animal Kingdom, but we did Bugs Life and the Lion King before heading back to the hotel for dinner and bed.

Sunday

Half Marathon

The final event! A half marathon from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and back. I was able to do several character stops and still finish in a decent time. For more highlights read here.

princess challenge finish

Magic Kingdom

It is always fun to celebrate in the Magic Kingdom! We brought all of our medals so we could take pictures in front of the castle – it is the most magical place in all of WDW. I made two dining reservations: lunch at Be Our Guest and dinner at Tony’s Italian Restaurant. These are two of my favorites, and I think my mom liked them, too. Last time I went to Be Our Guest, it was a quick service place with not great food. Not this time! It’s a formal dining experience, and I was surprised how good the food is. Make sure to try the gray stuff…it is delicious!

We spent a lot of time in Fantasy Land. It is probably my favorite area, and there are so many fun rides. There is a new Genie Pass option at Disney World. I didn’t buy it for the other parks because it is expensive, and I didn’t understand exactly what it was. I did buy it for our last day, and it really did make a difference in getting on more rides in the Magic Kingdom. I’m not sure I would do it for my whole trip, but to have it in Magic Kingdom was definitely worth the money. We weren’t able to get on the Mine Ride or other roller coasters, but it did get us on Peter Pan, Small World, and a few others without such a long weight.

Medals and the castle

Monday

Because of pricing, we had a later flight out which gave us time to relax and walk around the hotel. It was a nice, leisurely morning where we took the Skyliner to the Boardwalk for lunch. Overall, it was a very nice trip. I’m glad I was able to experience Princess Weekend and also had a trip to Disney World with my mom.

2022 Princess Medals

Not to mention I earned 4 more awesome medals! I’m looking forward to coming back in January 2023 to earn 6 more in the Dopey Challenge.

Race Recap: 2022 Corporate Cup

The 2022 Truist Corporate Cup was held on March 5. The race includes a half marathon and 5K. My understanding is that it is advertised to many of the large corporations in Charlotte for their employees to do. I had never done it but decided to sign up when they partnered with the Around the Crown 10K, which I will do on Labor Day weekend.

There weren’t as many people there as I expected, and many of them were doing the 5K. The race started at Truist Stadium, which was nice because it was open to use the restrooms. There was also free parking at several of the parking garages Uptown for the race.

2022 Corporate Cup Map

My allergies were awful that morning. Instead of racing, I told myself to take it easy and just get in the miles. I had run the Fairy Tale Challenge the previous weekend, too. If I wanted to walk a lot, then I could do that. Despite not being able to breathe, I did a lot better than I thought I would. I finished the Corporate Cup 5K in 33:32, which is just 47 seconds off my PR time.

2022 Corporate Cup Medal

Race Recap: 2022 Disney Princess Half Marathon

2022 Princess Half Run Flat

The final day of the 2022 runDisney Princess Weekend Fairy Tale Challenge was Sunday, February 27. I woke again at 2:30 am for my final early wake-up call of my 3-day running adventure. I was definitely tired but still excited to complete the last day of the challenge which is the Princess Half Marathon. This was also the first time of my previous 9 runDisney races that I wore a “costume.” I would be a version of Minnie Mouse by wearing a black tank top and a red skirt with white polkadots.

I felt good after completing the Enchanted 10K the day before and spending the day in Animal Kingdom. I was able to get back to the room early and get a goodnight sleep.

My goal for the race was to have fun, feel strong, and get some good character pictures.

The Course

2022 Princess Half Marathon Course Map

The course map for the 2022 Half Marathon was similar to all of the other runDisney Half Marathons I have done. I think the only time it differs is for Wine and Dine weekend, but I have never done that one. The half marathon course is my least favorite because there is so much boring highway running.

2022 Princess Half Marathon Start Line

As they do with all races, the runDisney team sends you off in style with music and fireworks. I was in the 3 wave, and since I was by myself, was able to get into one of the first groups that went off. I like the new model, but it’s just less formal than the way they did it in 2020.

My Race

As I mentioned, my goal was to be steady, feel strong, and just have a good time. I did 60/30 run/walk increments. RunDisney is nice with this because many people do the Galloway method. The beginning is a lot of highway running with some characters on side of the highway. You can see picture of some of them below. Even though there is nothing super exciting about this part, it is worth it because it is SO EXCITING when you enter the Magic Kingdom, turn on to Main St. and see the castle in front of you.

The course goes into Tomorrowland and then you make your way into Fantasy Land. When I went past Ariel’s Grotto, I was hoping to see Sebastian (I got a picture with him during Dopey 2020), and I was thrilled to see him and Prince Eric.

Princess Half with Eric and Sebastian
Had to stop for a picture with characters from my childhood favorite movie!

After this, you make your way through the castle where you are given the opportunity to get a picture in front of the castle. They have several photographers and the lines go really quick, so I recommend everyone stop here. This year, I got my favorite castle picture to date. I think it was the Minnie Mouse look that did it!

2022 Princess Castle Picture

After the castle, you wind though the Liberty area to Frontier Land and then leave the Magic Kingdom. You go past the hotels and get back on the highway for more running. At least here there are lot of characters, and they try to keep you entertained. I was feeling really strong and stopped to get pictures with a few characters, which I found really fun.

Making Friends with Donald Duck

Eventually, as the hot, grueling sun beats down on you, you eventually make it to the backstage of Epcot and you know the end is close. I was really excited to see a character stop with Mickey and Donald! I had to stop and get this picture even though I had to be half a mile from the end! As I was standing in line, Mickey had to leave. I was two people away, and the photographer motioned to the girl in front of me that it was her turn. She asked when Mickey would be back, and he said a few minutes. She told him she would wait, and well, if you know Donald, he was NOT happy. Poor Donald Duck! I said I would be happy to get a picture with him, and he was so happy! I felt good making Mr. Donald Duck happy since I know he always feels slighted by being second to Mickey.

Princess Half with Donald

Character Stops

The half marathon by nature is going to have more characters than the other courses, but there were definitely characters we had seen on other days. There were LOTS of princess (as there should be!) I wasn’t able to get pictures of everyone, but I tried. Some of my pictures didn’t turn out because it was just so busy at the beginning.

The Finish

2022 Princess Half Mulan Medal

It was a hot day, so getting to the finish line was very exciting! They also had cold, wet towels to help you cool down. RunDisney always does a great job taking care of their participants.

I finished the half in 2:57:31 with a restroom stop and several character stops, so it was a complete win for me. My goal was accomplished since I had fun and felt really strong through the whole race. I didn’t train as well as I should have, so I was a bit worried about how I felt. Since completing Chicago, I hadn’t done a lot of running besides a few of the smaller races I signed up for in 2022. Completing a challenge is a big accomplishment for me, and it continues to amaze me that I can do 3 days of walking/running and still feel good.

2022 Princess Half Finish

After I got my Mulan medal at the finish line, I made my way to the challenge tent to get my Moana Fairy Tale Challenge medal. Then it was time for my celebratory picture at the photo booth. The sun was out in full force, so I didn’t really get a good picture, but it shows that I made it! Then it was time to get to the bus and make my way back to the Art of Animation for a shower and to get Mom to go to Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. It was truly a magical trip. I just love runDisney events!

Race Recap: 2022 Enchanted 10K

2022 10K shirt with Tiana

2:30 am on February 26, and I was excited to get going! The alarm went off, and I tried to be very quiet getting ready so I didn’t wake my mom. I decided just to wear my race shirt since I didn’t do a good job trying to put together a costume. It was a pretty purple shirt with Tiana on it, who was the focus for this Enchanted 10K.

The bus ride was very easy, and we got to see a beautiful Spaceship Earth as we walked to the corrals. The 10K is probably my favorite race distance. It’s long enough to be a challenge, yet it is doable for all people. It’s a distance I feel comfortable it trying to get faster, yet it isn’t taxing like a marathon.

It was a busy day again and so many fun costumes! I love seeing the designs people put together; they are so cleaver. It’s amazing how many people were there doing the challenge. The 5K is not included in the Fairy Tale Challenge, like it is in Dopey. Our bib was different today and had Moana on it. There were A LOT of Moana bibs. I assume that if you enjoy running and you just have to do one more early morning, why not do it and get the extra medal?

The Course

2022 Princess 10K Cours Map

The race started at 5 am, which was earlier than in past years, but the time they tried to get the marathon to start in 2020. I’m not sure what they did in 2021, but I assume the earlier timing helps with 1. traffic in the parks and 2. getting people out of the heat sooner.

2022 Enchanted 10K Start

This course was really exciting for me! I couldn’t wait to do Hollywood Studios AND Epcot, plus getting to go around the Boardwalk. I remembered doing the 10K during Dopey, and it was my favorite course. Since there was another course, this had to be better!

Afterwards, I heard people say they don’t like this course because there is a lot of highway running. I kind of understand what they are saying, but I don’t know what the option is. I don’t know if the highway running here bothered me like it does during the half marathon. They had a lot more characters out in that space, and getting to go through 2 parks (even if it is for the last 2 miles or so), still makes the race a lot of fun in my opinion. I’m not sure what the construction situation will be for 2023 Marathon Weekend, but I hope they keep this multi-park course in the plan.

Character Stops

There were lots of characters out on the race course, which I found exciting. Many princesses were out like they were out the day before. I always try to take pictures of them, and I think I got all of them on the Enchanted 10K course. I was making good time, so I even stopped for a few of the later ones who had more manageable lines. The Frozen sisters, Tiana, and Aurora had INSANELY long lines. I always feel like I’ll get swept by the balloon ladies if I were to stop and wait for them.

50th Anniversary Chip and Dale
It’s always exciting to see Chip and Dale – they were dressed up in their anniversary best!
Clarabelle Cow

The Finish

The sun was coming out when I crossed the finish line for my first Enchanted 10K, and I felt great! I took the race easy because of the half tomorrow. The Disney photographer even got a great finish line picture for me!

Enchanted 10K finish line Princess Weekend
2022 Enchanted 10K Medal

I finished the 6.2 miles in 1:35:42, which I thought was pretty good given my restroom stop and my several character stops. My PR is around 1:08, but the goal at Disney is to have fun and not to PR.

We got a really beautiful medal – it has the EARadecent look like from the 2022 Marathon Weekend medals to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. The green and gold just looks so good together! I think this was most people’s favorite medal from the weekend, and I would have to agree. It was the most beautiful one.

2022 Princess 10K finish photo

After getting my medal and box of Disney race food, I stopped to get my celebratory picture at the photo booth. I was a sweaty mess (it was humid that day!), but I was excited! I had two medals in my position, and I was ready to accomplish the half tomorrow to get my final two. Before then, I had to get back to the room so Mom and I could tackle Animal Kingdom and get some pictures with our new bling!

Race Recap: 2022 Charlotte Hot Chocolate 5K

To motivate me while training for the 2021 Chicago Marathon, I read a lot of blogs of people who talk about their running and race recaps. Many people were participating in an event called “Hot Chocolate 15K” which seemed like a lot of fun. I learned that it was actually going to happen in Charlotte in February, so I decided that would be a lot of fun to try. The 2022 race happened on February 19, which was the weekend before the 2021 runDisney Princess weekend. I didn’t think the 15K would be possible that close to the challenge, but the 5K seemed like a perfect alternative.

2022 hot chocolate run flat

One of the reasons this race is popular is because of all of the swag. Instead of a normal race shirt, participants get a really cool puffy coat! The size fits small, but it’s really comfortable and warm.

In Charlotte, it was a big race. They held the expo at the convention center, which means it must be a big race. For having such a big space, the expo was very small. I think they could use a different, less expensive option in the future

Race Details

Race morning was busy and COLD! There were a lot of people! We gathered at First Ward Park where fun music was playing. I think this marshmallow man is the mascot for the race.

A lot of people were planning to do the 5K, but a good number of people were going to tackle the 15K. It was my first 5K in a very long time, so I was excited and a bit nervous. I hadn’t stuck to a consistent running schedule since Chicago, but I also had the Fairy Tale Challenge looming in front of me.

2022 Hot Chocolate 5K Charlotte course

End of the Race

The race was a lot of fun and very hilly. I walked twice during the race but still earned a 5K PR (32:45), which was exciting. Another reason people like the race is because of the chocolate fondue at the end, which is really cute!

2022 hot chocolate finish picture

The medals were also really cool! Overall, I highly recommend this race and would do it again in the future. Super fun and low-key!

Race Recap: 2021 Abbott Chicago 5K

During my marathon research, I found out that major marathons host a “shake out” run the day before the big event. Chicago Marathon’s is called the Abbott Chicago 5K. Even though I was nervous about running the day before the marathon, much of my research showed that it’s a positive thing, assuming you take it easy.

Course Map

The course is a one-way 3.1 mile run through the heart of Chicago’s downtown loop area. It passes major landmarks and is just a fun way to see the city.

The course itself was very cool and a fun way to see the city. The race highlights different countries so many people had flags to run with to show their home countries.

The Start

I arrived too early because I had a hard time sleeping. It was a pretty morning and fun to watch people arrive. My guess is that many of the people running were also running the next day.

The Race

There’s not much to report on a 5K race going at a really easy pace. I felt strong the whole time but really was there to take it all in. The coolest part of the race was around a mile going up an exit. There was a group of people and I heard some rumblings. When I turned around, it was Shalane Flanagan walking up the ramp with some girls from Girls on the Run. A bunch of the runners freaked out and tried to take pictures as we passed. My pictures didn’t turn out, but it was really cool to see her on the course.

fun bag of snacks post race

The Finish

I felt great at the end. The run gave me a lot of energy, and they gave everyone a cute bag of snacks at the end. My final time was 35:24 which was about an 11:24/mile pace.

If anyone is doing the Chicago Marathon and is considering the Abbott 5K, I would highly recommend it. Not only was it a fun course, but it was a nice way to get out race jitters before standing at the start line. I think I would have been much more nervous on Sunday if I didn’t get this race in the day before. To read how the marathon went, check out my race recap.

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