Thursday, January 16, 2014

Race Report: 2014 WDW Marathon--The Expo

It’s time to start recapping the 2014 WDW Marathon Weekend!  In all honesty, I can’t even believe that it’s over.  I trained so long and so hard to get to those 4 finish lines.  Let’s start at the beginning: the expo!  With a new year comes a new line of merchandise.  We got “first dibs” at some items, such as the Vinalmation and (of course) the 2014 New Balance shoes.  Knowing that I had to have a pair of those Cindys, I planned to get to the expo early.  Not crazy early, just early in the day.  We boarded the buses around 9:30 to get to the expo for the opening.  We ran a little late, so we weren’t there as early as I would have liked, but I made a pact with my hubby that no matter what, we were going to have fun.  No getting upset over little things like shoes or rude people.  That’s not what this was all about. 
On our way to stand in line!
We split up; he waited in line for the “virtual queue” for the NB shoes and I went to the expo.  I was sure to bring my list on my phone to keep me focused and knowing that I got everything I needed.  I started at the official merchandise and picked up my “I Did It” shirt, jacket, magnet, Sweaty Bands, water bottle, and lanyard.  There were a few other items that were tempting, but I refrained.  I found this part to be easy, with short lines and enough space to not feel like I was going to pass out.  I was able to try on my jacket and shirt in the corner to be sure everything fit just right.  Truth be told, since the 2013 Disneyland Expo, I have always had that nervousness that it would be a disaster.  This part definitely restored a little more faith in the expo!
Off to the other vendors.  I really have to hold on tight to my wallet here; I love buying running gear!  I grabbed some Body Glide, a new Sparkle Athletic skirt and Shwings, and got my free art card.  I was pretty much in and out of the expo in less than 45 minutes. 
At this point, I thought this would be an awesome experience—well, I texted my hubby and my delusional self was brought back down to earth.  He was still waiting in the long, long, long New Balance line to sign up for the virtual queue.  I met him in line to find that he had at least another hour wait.  We got to talk to some other runners, which is always a fun way to pass the time.  I debated getting started on packet pickup, but didn’t have the authorization form to pick up my hubby’s stuff.  **Lesson learned: I think from now on I will always have copies of all the IDs and authorization forms so anyone in our group can do packet pickup—that would have saved us a lot of time**  We finally made our way up to the queue and signed up for our text alert.  To my shock, they were unable to give us a time to come back (I thought that was how it worked).  We were told we would get a text when our number was up, and we had 20 minutes to get to the booth to get shoes.  If we missed our time, they would try to “squeeze you in” but there were no guarantees.  Well, we were already this far into the commitment, so we might as well go all the way. 
Our race swag
We both then went to the Jostens Center for packet pickup.  Again, everything went super smooth.  I was even able to exchange my shirts (which is good, because I ordered and women’s XL and ended up needing a M).  I have to give major kudos to runDisney and Champion!  The shirts this year are AWESOME!  The women’s cut is great, but even more-so, the material is super soft.  The designs are also really nice.  Good thing, too, since I came home with 6 shirts from the Dopey Challenge.  The only complaint would be that the 10k shirts were a little feminine with the Minnie theme.  Not sure what more they could do, though, to really change this.  I had pre-ordered pins and a Dopey necklace.  They are great additions to our growing collection!
We had lunch reservations at Hollywood Studios and decided to try our luck at leaving the expo and coming back for the shoes.  We were looking at hours of wait time, and we wanted to get to the parks.  Thanks to the power of social media, I was able to keep up with a few people who posted updates on times and when they finally got the text. 

So, here’s the honest truth: We saw on a Facebook group that someone just walked up and purchased shoes without having a number.  I’m honestly not sure how true that was, because they were pretty strict all the times I passed by.  I also read others saying they didn’t get the text or they got it late.  I got nervous/annoyed, and we decided to leave the Studios (yes, we got in a few rides after lunch) and head back to the expo.  On the bus, we got the text.  It was like a Devine intervention.  I literally walked up to the booth at the 20 minute mark, tried on the shoes, and bought mine, my mom’s and my sis-in-law’s (because, after all, Disney Runs in the Family).  If I had waited any longer, I would have missed it.  The actual “try on and buy” process was awesome.  Took 10 minutes—I just wish the 10 minutes would have been about 6 hours earlier.
Here is my quick assessment:  the process is okay at best.  We still waited in a 2-hour line, but ended up with no shoes until 6 hours later.  This would work better at Disneyland where you could, theoretically, get back to the expo in 20 minutes from a park.  If they had just given us a return time or even a window, I would have been much more impressed with the process.  Also, the registration to get into the virtual queue was taking way too long.  I realize that New Balance wants to gather data from this process, but really, who cares where I’m from.  They should have had at least 20 registration stations; they only had 6.  That would have moved the line along much faster.  I thought they had learned some lessons from last year.  Clearly they are trying, just haven’t hit the nail on the head.

So there you have it: the expo!  If you were there, how did it go?  Did you get the shoes?  If you weren’t, would you have waited?  I’m interested to see if they tweak the process at all for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon.  Up next: the 5k!

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