The year I ran the Disney’s Tower of Terror 10 Mile Race was the last year that the race happened. Here’s what it was like to run this race:
There were more than 10,000 people registered for the Tower of Terror Run at Disney World in Orlando and Marti DiPaola and I were two of them. Nearly 9500 people finished the race and almost every state was represented except for North Dakota.
When we got to Orlando
We arrived in Orlando on Friday and headed over to the Disney Expo where we walked around and met various vendors selling running related gear. We also had the opportunity to attend two workshops – one on what to expect during the race and the other with Jeff Galloway, an Olympic athlete who is the trainer of record for all the Run Disney races.
Marti and I sat and listened with the rest of the audience in awe as Jeff Galloway mesmerized the audience with his knowledge of the sport. He was an incredible speaker and had so much worthwhile information to say.
First time listening to Jeff Galloway
Galloway spoke about his run walk run method. He explained this method helps prevent injuries and gets you to your goal faster because there are adequate rest periods in between your walk.
“Do you think we can do that?” I asked Marti.
She looked at me and said, “let’s try it out for this race.”
After his talk, we both hurried to the Run Disney booth, bought two of his books and his timer, had Galloway sign a copy of the books and even got the opportunity to take a photo with him. I felt as if I met a celebrity.
“Could you be on my podcast?” I asked him.
We went back to the room and I quickly looked through the book to see if there were any helpful tips to get us through the race.
The next day we waited for the race to begin. Marti said she felt as if we waited all day, which we actually did. The race didn’t start until 10 pm at night.
At the race
At around 7 pm, after putting on our running gear and dressing up as “Evil Fairies,” we caught the bus to MGM Studios with dozens of other runners. We weren’t the only one dressed up. When we got to the start of the race, everyone was there including: Snow White, Minnie Mouse, fairy princess, Batman, Wonder Woman, skeletons, and more. You name it; someone was dressed as that character!
We had a few hours of sitting around, stretching out before being shuffled to the Corrals. We were in Corral G. I was amazed at how many people were in the race. I never saw so many people in one place!
The race started
The Corrals started moving. First, the wheelchair racers were called to the start line, then Corral A with all of the Elite runners. It was slow going but it moved. As each Corral took off the race directors played the theme song to the Twilight Zone, then there were fireworks and then the runners took off into what looked like a time warp. There were laser lights that illuminated the sky and created the illusion that you were running into the abyss.
Both Marti and I were impressed with the caliber of the race. It was very well organized and at every 1.5-mile there were water stops where they also served Gatorade.
What we saw during the run
As we ran, we saw some interesting sights – a giant spider, fire erupting from the water – Disney style, and the Witch from Cinderella. There were plenty of Disney villains out on the route as well including Captain Hook, Scar from the Lion King and the Queen from Alice in Wonderland. Many people stopped and took photos with their favorite villains, but we just kept running.
We actually tried out Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run method. Every 2 minutes we would run and then walk for a minute. We did stop at the water breaks because the humidity was deadly. It was hot even at 11 pm at night!
The thing about the method is, we never hit the wall. We could have easily done another 3 miles to finish a half marathon.
Only one complaint
Our one complaint about the course was that in parts it was very dark, especially when we were running over a dirt road and there were so many people surrounding us. It was hard to run when everyone was walking slowly. There were actually many bottlenecks along the route, which really weren’t very comfortable.
For the most part, we ran on concrete but we did run on a dirt road, a track at the ESPN Sports Zone and we ran pebbles, which I wasn’t thrilled with because it was very dark and I thought someone would get hurt.
One of the highlight for both Marti and I was when we ran through MGM studios back lots. It felt as if we were running in a block in Manhattan. I also think we enjoyed running around the track because the concrete was so hard on the bottom of our feet!
The race was well done and well orchestrated. There were way too many people to make it a comfortable race to run. I’m really glad we got a second chance to run a Disney race again. (If you remember, the first time we went to Disney to run a half marathon, we both got sick and couldn’t run. So this truly was an accomplishment for both of us.)
As for whether or not I would go back and run another race, probably not unless Disney paid for Marti and my expenses to blog about the race.